The quarterback position is once again making headlines for the UCF Knights football program. We all remember the unfortunate leg injury that put the career of McKenzie Milton on hold last November. After the injury, Darriel Mack Jr. was called upon to lead the Knights' offense and he did just that. He finished the 2018 season with 619 passing yards, 337 rushing yards, 23 receiving yards, and nine total touchdowns. Mack held his own as UCF won back-to-back American Athletic Conference championships and posted a second straight undefeated regular season (finished 13-1 after losing to LSU in the Fiesta Bowl).
During the offseason, the Knights added depth to the position by bringing in Notre Dame graduate transfer Brandon Wimbush. The New Jersey native had been benched in favor of Ian Book and decided to use his final year of eligibility elsewhere in the hopes of getting playing time. Now Wimbush will get his chance. Recently it was announced by the school that Mack would miss all of training camp, and perhaps the start of the 2019 season, after suffering a broken ankle in what the school said was a "non-football related activity."
With Mack sidelined for the foreseeable future, Wimbush is the only other signal-caller on the current roster with significant game experience. It's safe to assume that he will begin training camp next month atop UCF's quarterback depth chart. But fear not Knights fans, here are four reasons why Wimbush will keep the train rolling.
1. Experience and production
From 2015-18 Wimbush made 20 starts for the Fighting Irish. He completed 51 percent of his passes for 2,606 yards, 20 touchdowns, 12 interceptions, and had a passer rating of 118.8. He also ran the ball 215 times for 1,156 yards (5.4 ypc) and an additional 16 trips to the end zone. Like Milton and Mack, Wimbush is a dual-threat signal-caller that should fit right in with what UCF likes to do on offense. Notre Dame's pro-style/spread hybrid scheme has similar elements to Knights head coach Josh Heupel's system.
2. Wimbush isn't afraid of the spotlight
Notre Dame is one of the most high-profile programs in the country. The Irish's history, tradition, and credentials are almost unrivaled. The Irish have national distribution for radio, NBC for television, all while writers and reporters from all over the country travel to cover their games. Wimbush held his own in this environment for three seasons, he'll have no problem adjusting to the spotlight that UCF has carved out over the past few seasons.
3. Wimbush is already familiar with AAC competition
At Notre Dame, Wimbush had one start each against AAC members Temple and Navy. He posted a 2-0 record in those games, throwing for 348 yards (with four touchdowns), to go along with 147 yards (and two scores) on the ground, as the Irish outscored the two teams 73-33. That prior experience will be beneficial to Wimbush moving forward.
Wimbush was rarely injured in South Bend. Most of the games that he missed were due to him being benched as opposed to being on the team's medical report. He can take hits and keep going, he doesn't get sacked too much (only took six sacks in 2018), and staying healthy will be the key as the Knights can't afford to lose another quarterback.
— Gabe Salgado is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. He's also written for NBC, Fox, The Sporting News, The Sports Journal, The Undefeated and Complex. He's a co-host of The Rewind Sports: 60. Follow him on Twitter @GabeSalgado82.