ORLANDO, Fla. — When UCF opened spring practice on Monday, Notre Dame transfer Brandon Wimbush was right in the mix of the quarterback competition, the way he expected when he decided to make the move to Orlando.
Nobody promised him the starting job, and coach Josh Heupel reiterated Monday that the competition is wide open. Darriel Mack, who replaced injured starter McKenzie Milton late last season, got the first reps, but Heupel said every rep was split evenly among four quarterbacks throughout practice.
How the competition shakes out remains to be seen, but Wimbush knows nothing is guaranteed.
“I thought any school that would allow me to come in and compete for a starting position would be a good place for me to go and play my last year of college football,” Wimbush said in his first media comments since transferring. “I have family down here this way so I thought it was a good spot for me to end up.”
What UCF ultimately decides at quarterback is one of the most intriguing spring story lines to follow, especially as the Knights continue on their quest to try to become the first Group of 5 team to make the College Football Playoff. A loss to LSU in the PlayStation Fiesta Bowl on Jan. 1 ended the Knights’ 25-game winning streak, and it seemed clear UCF would have to bolster the experience in the quarterback room with Milton out indefinitely.
Enter Wimbush, who started all of 2017 and the first three games of the 2018 season for Notre Dame before losing his job to Ian Book. Wimbush said the UCF quarterbacks have welcomed him warmly, and noted they all sent him congratulatory notes on social media after he made his decision to transfer.
Wimbush is behind on terminology and understanding the UCF offense, but he said the fast tempo is something he is used to from his time at Notre Dame.
“Brandon’s an old kid who gets it,” offensive coordinator Jeff Lebby said. “He’s been through a lot of ups and downs, so he’s had to find ways to continue to bounce back and that’s the biggest thing. You’re getting a guy that’s got a lot of history so that’s been fun to see.”
Milton was out on the practice field Monday, using crutches and a golf cart to get around. Heupel said Milton is still “a long ways away from being at the end of his rehab” for a serious leg injury, but noted it was great to have the veteran quarterback out at practice.
“It’s great for us, just his energy and guys seeing him around,” Heupel said. “He’s been in the building, been in meetings whenever he can. He’ll be back all afternoon getting rehab. It’s great for him being mentally engaged in it and coaching those guys up. We were in an individual period and he was motoring around on his cart, came up to me and had a couple things for the guys. It’s important for him and important for us.”