There used to be a television show called “Lost.” That title may have been perfect to describe UCF’s group of freshmen receivers when the year began. Redshirts J.J. Worton and Josh Reese and true rookie Rannell Hall were distant on a depth chart and often not reliable on the field because the playbook seemed like a challenge too big for this trio. However, 10 games into the season, Worton, Reese and Hall might be better described by the iconic television show “60 Minutes” for what they bring from start to finish.
With two games remaining in a frustrating season, Worton, Reese and Hall have given UCF fans a glimpse of the future at the receiver position and that future is as bright as can be. Each has shown ability to not just play at this level, but be playmakers for years to come.
Worton’s catch on the final play at Southern Miss was spectacular. He somehow came down with the pass despite three Golden Eagle defenders surrounding the product from South Dade High School in Homestead. His 11-catch, 114-yard performance ranked among the best single games by a UCF receiver in the last decade. Worton leads the team in receptions, receiving yards and touchdowns. In addition, about two-thirds of Worton’s catches result in first downs. Worton has a knack for catching anything that comes his way and has become UCF’s top target.
Reese shined on the show team last year while he redshirted. But earlier in the season, Reese had a hard time getting plays because he was not consistent in running routes. But Reese, who played at Miami Central with Jeff Godfrey, worked and worked and the opportunity to play was something Reese was going to make the most of. His 25 receptions are fourth-best on the team and he has become a big second half receiver with 19 of his catches coming in the third and fourth quarter.
Hall came to UCF with the nickname “Speedy.” Head Coach George O’Leary said he had to earn that nickname at the college level. Hall, like his fellow freshmen pass catchers, was slow to catch on to the UCF offense. Week after week, O’Leary talked about getting Hall on the field. His chance came on special teams when Quincy McDuffie was slowed by an ankle injury. Hall took advantage of the opportunity and got to show why he got the nickname. He is averaging 30 yards a kick return and had a 97-yard return called back in the Tulsa game. He has an incredible burst and a knack to keep his balance after first contact and get more yards as he did at Southern Miss. Hall has not had a big impact in the receiving game with just two catches, but he will continue to be part of the passing game and no one doubts there are big plays awaiting.
UCF lost three senior receivers from last year’s team and there was concern about the position. It may have taken some time, but Worton, Reese and Hall give UCF fans a glimpse of the future and the future at this position is quite bright.