UCF's Blake Bortles successor: Pete DiNovo

Pete DiNovo (inset) will have big shoes to fill, replacing Blake Bortles, the former UCF Knight QB turned Jacksonville Jaguar who led the Knights to their best season of all time in 2013.

Pete DiNovo (inset) will have big shoes to fill, replacing Blake Bortles, the former UCF Knight QB turned Jacksonville Jaguar who led the Knights to their best season of all time in 2013.

Isaac Babcock

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A freshman will lead the UCF Knights at quarterback after months of testing and scrimmages on the UCF practice fields, and his name is Pete DiNovo.

That might sound like a familiar name, aside from him grabbing headlines among a foursome of prospective quarterbacks the Knights had tested out since the spring.

He's also relatively local, coming from Pinellas County, where at East Lake High School he was ranked the No. 66 QB in the nation and held Pinellas County records with 6,733 career passing yards and 59 touchdowns.

He led the Knights during their preseason camp workout on Aug. 10.

"I think all four of them can play," Head Coach George O'Leary told the Orlando Sentinel. "I think right now we're in a good situation. But we need to move on and he's [No. 1]."

Justin Holman, the only QB who had any playing time with the Knights last year, had been seen as a front-runner for since last season. He'll be contending with Boise State transfer Nick Patti for the No. 2 quarterback job.

That job was far less prominent a role in UCF's unprecedented run last season in their inaugural season in the American Athletic Conference. Blake Bortles, who had traded playing time with two other quarterbacks in his first two seasons as a Knight, had the quarterback position well in hand in his junior year in 2013, when he led the Knights to a 12-1 record, AAC championship, and a dominating upset win over Baylor in the Fiesta Bowl.

Holman, who played second fiddle all season, rarely saw time on the field, playing a few minutes in three games in which the Knights already had blowout leads. He converted those rare moments into 75 yards of passing, a touchdown, and 40 yards on the run.

The second string QB, whoever that may be, could see more playing time this season as the Knights try to figure out a long-term solution for their most prominent position. Bolstering their confidence, most of their receivers return from last season's championship team.

DiNovo hasn't had much chance to throw to the Knights' two key receivers, Rannell Hall and Breshad Perriman, who have been out of practice with injuries, though they're expected to return next week.

By the time the Knights play Penn State in Dublin, Ireland on Aug. 30, the full receiving corps should be back on the field. Too far of a trip? That game will be broadcast at 8:30 a.m. (yes, in the morning) on ESPN2.