The Roadrunner: John Rhys Plumlee, QB, UCF
First Round Mock’s William Yanish looks at a quarterback (QB) who will factor into this year’s draft class, John Rhys Plumlee, out of the University of Central Florida (UCF).
My initial evaluation of UCF QB John Rhys Plumlee left me in awe.
“JRP” as he likes to be called had offers from several colleges coming out of high school. These schools included Alabama, Mississippi State, Florida, and Ole Miss.
Originally, he committed to Georgia but instead decided to accept a scholarship to play baseball and football at Ole Miss.
As a true freshman in 2019, he flashed his “potential” while splitting time as the starter with QB Matt Corral. The following season, Lane Kiffin came in as the new head coach and named Corral his full-time starting QB. JRP, who was in pursuit of playing both baseball and football at the highest level, ended up transferring to UCF.
Fast-forward to 2023.
In a week two win versus Boise State (Sept. 9), JRP sustained a leg injury.
After rushing back to help his team, the first game was a heartbreaking loss to the No. 6 ranked Oklahoma Sooners on Oct. 21. He was not 100% and was struggling with his throws.
Then against West Virginia, in a loss on Oct. 28, he tossed three touchdowns and yes…three interceptions.
A Nov. 11 game saw him lay the wood to No. 15 ranked Oklahoma State in a torrential downpour, 45-3. In that contest, JRP completed 11 of 18 for 299 yards and three passing touchdowns, while adding 14 carries on the ground for 74 yards.
The Roadrunner, as I call him for his FoHawk style haircut, was back.
His ball placement and throws were starting to take shape again. There was an obvious development in his first full offseason as a starter.
The Yanish Report
Plumlee has a hopefully still growing and smaller build. Footwork, rhythm, and timing have ramped up. Lightning quick through the pocket. Sacks are a rarity (12 in 2023). Acceleration is second to none. Defenders blink and miss him. Slide, slide, slide. Smooth progressions. Always looking downfield. Next-level eye discipline. Quick, snappy release, and upper body mechanics. Different arm angles have come along. Improved touch on throws. Throws erratic at times. Pass breakups (PBU) are a problem. Ball placement can improve. Home run hitter. Great work ethic. Tough as a $5 steak. Gravitating personality. Down to earth, proper leader of men. No fear.
For the win
It excites me to watch JRP play football. This UCF QB is a threat to score on every play. It has to be said ⎯his gunslingers’ ways did cost his team turnovers.
I feel pairing him with a great mentor in the NFL will make him dangerous. This is one of those guys that comes out of nowhere. The mental makeup of a prospect is where many NFL general managers go right or go wrong. With JRP, what he exudes on social media, during interviews, and on the field, speaks volumes. To me, he comes off like a high-character individual and he plays like football is important to him.
As for that injury, JRP spoke about it according to the Orlando Sentinel before the 30-17 loss to Georgia Tech in the recent Gasparilla Bowl (Dec. 22):
“I’m not 100% yet but continually improving,” said Plumlee. “I had a checkup the other day and used to have to wear the brace 24/7 unless I was taking a shower. I had to wear it while I was sleeping. Then I graduated from not having to wear it when I’m sleeping, which was huge, but wearing it at all other times. Now I just have to wear it for football-related activities.
“Hopefully, sooner than later, I’ll be able to graduate and not have to wear the brace at all.”
It’s only that injury that has me adjusting my grade.
My BIG three questions
1. Will he be in the Senior Bowl?
2. With a recorded 4.42 (40-yard dash time) in high school, what will be his time this spring?
3. Will he accept a role as a wide receiver if an NFL team asks?
My 2024 NFL Draft Value: Second-Round
2023 Game Film Evidence (Jersey No. 10)
William Yanish III is a lifelong football fan. He’s from the little town of Crawford, Colorado. Along the way, he’s lived in Dutch Harbor, Alaska, and Brookings, Oregon. Quarterback Joe Montana was his idol growing up. A little bit of CTE from life’s adventures killed his dreams as a football player. Now, he is an aspiring writer and Draft Analyst at FirstRoundMock.com. He’s a fanatic with a dream, which is coming true.
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