Ten UCF football players opting out of season over coronavirus concerns

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Ten University of Central Florida football players, including two projected starters, are opting out for the 2020 season because of concerns around the coronavirus pandemic, coach Josh Heupel said Tuesday.

The list of opt-outs includes cornerback Tay Gowan and defensive tackle Kalia Davis, who each started nine games last season. Backup quarterback Darriel Mack Jr., who started three games in 2018 and entered the 2019 season as the projected starter before a preseason injury, also is among those opting out. The group includes five reserve linemen (three offense, two defense).

"We've tried to educate our guys continuously as to what the practices are," Heupel told reporters Tuesday. "Educate them as to what we're doing here to keep them as safe as possible. Each of these kids who chose to opt out have different reasons behind their decisions. They're valid, they're real, and we support those guys and we'll continue to help them."

Gowan, a junior college transfer who joined UCF in 2019, recorded 31 tackles, two interceptions, eight passes broken up, one fumble recovery and one tackle for loss. Davis finished second on the team with eight tackles for loss in 2019, recording three sacks, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery.

Other UCF players opting out include cornerback Devunte Dawson, defensive back Elijah Benoit, offensive linemen Allan Adams, Lamarius Benson and Adrian Medley, and defensive linemen Mason Cholewa and Kendrick Wilson.

Mack's decision means Quadry Jones moves into the backup role behind starter Dillon Gabriel.

UCF on Monday was named the American Athletic Conference's preseason favorite in a poll of media members, receiving 10 of 20 first-place votes. The Knights are No. 21 in the AP and coaches' preseason polls.