UCF coach George O'Leary held back from naming a starting quarterback heading into the offseason, instead maintaining a three-man rotation at the position.
Sophomore Justin Holman will remain first in that rotation, followed by redshirt freshman Pete DiNovo and true freshman Tyler Harris. Holman, a sophomore who served as Blake Bortles' primary back-up last season, remains the front-runner to take over the starting job.
O’Leary said he would name a starter Monday, but the update on the quarterback rotation came via news release that didn’t definitively settle the race.
“After watching the spring and what took place, the staff has decided that we will keep the quarterbacks in place as they have been — with Holman, DiNovo and Harris heading into the preseason,” O'Leary said in a statement. “The quarterback that gives us the best opportunity to move the chains and manage the game will be under center against Penn State.”
O'Leary told reporters following UCF’s spring Saturday he wanted to identify a starter to avoid drama during the offseason.
“I want to head into the preseason with no media circus and a quarterback named,” he said on Saturday. “I think one has separated himself. He's not where he needs to be, but I think he separated himself. ... He's just the guy headed into the preseason. Hopefully it's the right decision.”
Holman, who is 6-foot-4 and 207 pounds, showed his well-rounded abilities during the Knights' spring game Saturday, completing 18 of 31 passes for 165 yards with no touchdowns and no interceptions. He led a long scoring drive capped by a touchdown run from Dontravious Wilson and showed the best execution hitting the shorter passes UCF will likely rely on this fall.
Holman, a Stephenson (Ga.) High graduate, in January 2013 and stepped in as Bortles' back-up when Tyler Gabbert left the program before the FIU game. Holman saw limited action in three games, completing 9 of 14 passes for 75 yards with one touchdown and one interception.
DiNovo, who also enrolled in January 2013, demonstrated some promise through the spring and may have been the most consistent quarterback over the course of 14 practices. He showed ups and downs during the spring game, tossing a touchdown to J.J. Worton but also throwing an interception that was returned for a score. The redshirt freshman completed 10 of 20 passes for 117 yards.
Harris enrolled at UCF in January and had the most ground to make up. Still adjusting to the pace of college football, the Georgia native showed off a strong arm but also a lack of fundamentals.
The freshman completed 5 of 11 passes for 38 yards with an interception during the spring game.
With no starter named, the battle will continue through summer offseason drills and into the preseason. Another name will likely join the mix when UCF reports for preseason camp on July 31.
Former Boise State quarterback Nick Patti is transferring to UCF and is slated to enroll in the first summer school semester. The 5-feet-10 Dr. Phillips graduate set career high school records for passing yards (5,701), touchdown passes (66) and pass completions (374). He played sparingly for the Broncos as a redshirt freshman, completing 8 of 11 passes for 63 yards and no touchdowns.
UCF is awaiting word on whether Patti will have to sit out a year. Patti applied to the NCAA for a hardship waiver that would make him eligible to play immediately.
The race to replace Bortles will be the most crucial element of the Knights' preseason as UCF aims to build on the success of its 12-1 campaign in 2013-14.