Posted by Jerry Hinnen
What a difference a year makes--unfortunately for UCF and now-former Knights quarterback Jeff Godfrey.
In 2010, Godfrey ranked among the nation's top 15 most efficient passers and won Conference USA Freshman of the Year honors while leading the Knights to a surprisise conference championship. Just one season later, with the Knights coming off a bitterly disappointing 5-7 campaign and Godfrey's passer rating having dipped by 15 points, Godfrey's father confirmed to the Orlando Sentinel Monday that he will be transferring out of the program.
"It was the right time to go when he started to have lack of playing time," Jeff Godfrey Sr. said. "He never had any problem with competing for the starting job. It was just a question of whether he would get a fair chance to compete."
The Knight program itself may take a different view, announcing itself Monday afternoon that Godfrey would be ineligible for the spring semester. The ineligibility is unrelated to the school's recent NCAA investigation.
Godfrey started all 12 games for the Knights, but often gave way to freshman backup Blake Bortles, who played several fourth quarters and finished with more touchdown passes (6) than Godfrey's 5 despite attempting 122 fewer passes. Godfrey rushed for 160 fewer yards in 2010 as his coaches reportedly asked him to make more throws from the pocket.
According to Godfrey Sr., the team's handling of Godfrey and offensive philosophy changed when wide receivers coach David Kelly was forced to resign as part of the NCAA investigative fallout.
"I trusted David Kelly," Godfrey Sr. said. "Coach O'Leary never explained to me why David Kelly was fired. And Jeff told me everything changed the day after he was fired. He went to practice and he was the No. 2 quarterback. They started him to keep him quiet, but he was the No. 2."
Godfrey transfer rumors have bubbled up over the past several weeks, with no less a personage than Luther "Uncle Luke" Campbell writing for the UCF student newspaper that Godfrey (a Miami high school product) needed to leave the Knights unless head coach George O'Leary resigned. Godfrey Sr. suggested to the Sentinel that UCF may not have as much success recruiting Miami schools in the future after Godfrey's treatement.
Frankly, Godfrey Sr.'s willingness throughout this season to publicly complain about O'Leary's regime and its coaching decisions is a headache O'Leary and his program will likely be glad to be free of. But the bottom line is that Godfrey showed himself in his dynamic freshman season to be one of the brightest young quarterbacking prospects in the country, and that whatever development he might make from this point on won't come at the benefit of the Knights. However much promise Bortles may show, there's no way to spin the loss of a talent this substantial as a positive, particularly for a program suddenly in need of positives as it makes the transition to the Big East.