Summer 2024

Two-sport star John Rhys Plumlee 'really, really blessed' to be named UCF starting QB

It took two years of patience and a change of schools, but John Rhys Plumlee will be back playing the position he loves this fall. Central Florida head coach Gus Malzahn announced Plumlee as the team’s starting quarterback Sunday.

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“That’s where my heart’s always been,” Plumlee said about the quarterback position in March. “Growing up, it’s what I loved to do. To be able to do it again and get back behind center, it’s truly a blessing.”

After splitting time with current Carolina Panthers quarterback Matt Corral and setting Ole Miss freshman records with 1,023 rushing yards and 16 total touchdowns in 2019, Plumlee — who also played on the Ole Miss baseball team — was used almost exclusively as a running back and wide receiver the past two seasons.

On Tuesday in a press conference, Plumlee was asked what his initial reaction was when he got the news that he’d be the UCF starter.

“I feel really, really blessed to have the opportunity to come here, to have the opportunity to compete, and ultimately to have the opportunity to be the starter is really cool,” he said. “The best word to describe it is I feel blessed.”

He was later asked if there was anything he told himself to not give up on his dream of still playing quarterback.

“It was tough. You go from doing something you love so much to watching somebody else do what you love,” he said of his time as a receiver and running back. “Selfishly you want to be out there … but at the same time you’re part of a team, and the team’s goal is to win. So I tried to play my role as best that I could … with the abilities that God has blessed me with, and now I’m here. I feel really blessed to be here.”

He announced on Jan. 3 he was entering the transfer portal and sent a series of social media posts thanking the Ole Miss community. Plumlee also included Proverbs 3:5-6 in the first post and emphasized the important role prayer played in his decision.

“This Bible verse reminds me daily that my life is not about me, rather about Him,” he wrote. “I have leaned on this truth throughout my football and baseball career at Ole Miss and tried to live a life that is pleasing to God. I have been so blessed to serve Him in Oxford and I know He is faithful.”

The Hattiesburg, Mississippi, native pointed to the same verse when talking with 247 Sports about how he navigated the frustration of watching his playing time decrease dramatically in the 2020 season.

“It was a tough year for me,” he said in July 2021. “I kept finding strength in Proverbs 3:5-6. It says, ‘Trust in the Lord with all of your heart, not on your own understanding. With all your ways, acknowledge Him and He will guide your path.’ I just kept finding strength in that verse. That’s what I had to do. I had to trust in Him, because I felt as though I was doing all that I could do. At that point, I had to give it to the Lord.”

Plumlee hoped to join the UCF baseball team for the 2022 season but had his waiver denied by the NCAA because he transferred after the deadline for spring sports. He expressed his disappointment with the situation on Twitter but said he knows “God has a plan through it all.”

Without having a baseball season to focus on, Plumlee was able to participate in football practices during the spring for the first time in his college career. He is still listed on the UCF baseball roster and intends to play both sports for as long as possible.

For now, though, his focus is on helping the Knights’ football team claim a third AAC conference championship in six seasons. UCF received 27 votes in the AP preseason college football poll after going 9-4 last season and winning the Gasparilla Bowl over Florida.

Plumlee is set to make his UCF debut in the Knights’ season opener Sept. 1 against South Carolina State. They face two ACC teams — Louisville and Georgia Tech — before beginning conference play Oct. 1.

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