UCF has linebacker questions -- again

It seems like a rite of spring at UCF.

Three years running now, there have been some questions about the linebackers.

In 2011, the team had two inexperienced outside linebackers in true freshmen Troy Gray and Leilon Willingham, and converted running back Jonathan Davis.

Then last season, the Knights had an inexperienced middle linebacker in Terrance Plummer, with a former basketball player in Ray Shipman playing outside linebacker.

This year, UCF once again has two holes to fill in its linebacker group. Plummer anchors the middle as one of the top defensive players returning. But Shipman and Davis are both gone. Perhaps this is an opportunity for Gray to re-establish himself as a starter. As a true freshman, he started the final nine games of the season, but his only start in 2012 was the bowl game.

He began spring ball with the first team. So did Willie Mitchell, who only made three tackles on the 2012 season. Building depth is going to be especially important, because there are not many players with real game experience. Second-team guys like Michael Easton and Domenic Spencer only have a handful of tackles each; Maurice Russell is coming off a redshirt season.

For his part, Plummer understands he has to take on an even bigger leadership role this spring as the only veteran starter returning. Perhaps more than any other position on the roster, linebacker features an abundance of young players without major game experience.

UCF has been able to solve its linebacker questions the last two years. So if history is any indication, coach George O'Leary and the Knights will be able to find the right players to fit right into the starting lineup and not skip a beat.