UCF's top young players are beginning to make an impact this season.

With sophomore defensive end Deion Green out due to a torn anterior cruciate ligament, the Knights started sophomore Miles Pace at defensive end. Pace had a solid showing, with three tackles including 1.5 for loss.

It was a true freshman who may have made the most noise with a very strong first impression, however. In his first collegiate game, freshman Deondre Barnett logged a sack in the 62-17 win over UConn.

“I brought him up,” Knights coach George O’Leary said of Barnett. “I’ve been watching him on the show team giving Torrian Wilson a hard time. A speed rusher. I said bring him up and dress him, he’s going to play. I put him right on the nickel team … and I think he did a really good job putting some edge pressure up there.”

The 6-foot-2, 221-pound freshman from Cocoa was active on passing downs.

“When you start working more with him on some games I think he’ll be fine,” O’Leary said. “You can’t beat speed in the rush, especially when you’re a [6-2]  guy that has some inside strength. I think he’s only going to help us. He helped more today … with the speed off the edge.”


E-mail Paul Tenorio at ptenorio@orlandosentinel.com. Follow him on Twitter @OSKnights.