UCF's John Rhys Plumlee has been busy. The quarterback/center fielder has juggled schedules for the Knights and keeps on going. To talk with Plumlee and ask him how he is doing, he will smile and tell you "blessed and doing great" because that is who the guy is. Never without a smile and always with something positive to say, Plumlee's schedule has been a bit challenging but he keeps on going. Yet, this week, he will be a bit busier.
When Plumlee chose to transfer to UCF, he wanted a chance to play quarterback again after being moved to wide receiver in Oxford. He jumped when the opportunity was presented to come and play for Gus Malzahn who had recruited Plumlee when he was at Oak Grove High School in Hattiesburg. But Plumlee happened to be one of the best baseball players in the state as well and Ole Miss gave him the green light to play both sports.
So when Plumlee chose UCF over others he asked the same question about baseball. Gus Malzahn spoke with UCF Baseball Coach Greg Lovelady about it and Lovelady was on board with the chance to add a speedy center fielder to his roster with SEC experience.
While Plumlee was able to join the Knights' football team for spring practice, the transfer rules prevented him from playing baseball in 2022. He was able to get a full spring practice and competed for the starting job while being able to work out with the baseball team but not play in games. Football came first and Plumlee went on to earn the job at quarterback and led the team in rushing and threw for 2,586 yards and 14 touchdowns. There was the occasional batting cage session and outfield drills during the fall of 2022 for Plumlee but football went into December with a conference title game and bowl game.
As January arrived, Plumlee was turning his attention to baseball and played catch up with his diamond teammates. About the same time, Gus Malzahn hired new offensive coordinator Darin Hinshaw and suddenly Plumlee was in meetings with his new offensive coach and learning new plays, terminology and building a relationship for the inaugural season in the Big 12. He missed zero meetings and conditioning sessions for football while practicing and preparing for a college baseball season.
Plumlee started opening night for UCF and played in 27 of 28 games. He's batting .299 and has five homers and leads the team in stolen bases with eight.
Spring practice in football enters a third week and Plumlee has been there for every minute as he works with an offensive line that features new names and a receiving group that has first time teammates as well.
I've asked Plumlee multiple times how he feels and he smiles and answers "blessed and doing great" and I believe him, This week things get a bit more challenging for Plumlee. Gus Malzahn and Greg Lovelady talked weeks ago about the schedule and now that week has arrived.
Plumlee played every inning in UCF's series this past weekend against rival South Florida. He went through football practice last Thursday when the team scrimmaged and then prepared with his baseball teammates at practice before the start of their series. On Friday he played baseball before a Saturday morning football practice. He was on time for batting practice Saturday afternoon and in center field when first pitch happened at 6:02p Saturday night. A Sunday baseball game started at 1p. All that leads to this week.
The UCF Baseball team will pull out of campus Tuesday morning for a bus trip down to Coral Gables for a game against the Miami Hurricanes at 6p. Plumlee won't be on that bus. He will be at football practice Tuesday morning. Shortly after practice, he will be in a car driving south to join his baseball teammates for batting practice and the game. On Wednesday morning, Plumlee will return to Orlando and prepare for Thursday's football practice. The baseball team will board a plane on Wednesday and head to Raleigh/Durham and then bus to Greenville for a three-game series that starts Thursday night against East Carolina, the preseason pick in the AAC to win the conference. It's a big baseball series for the Knights and Plumlee knows that.
On Thursday Plumlee will go through football practice and then hop on a plane and fly to join his teammates and is expected to take pre-game batting practice and be in center field when first pitch happens at 6p.
At 22, Plumlee is young and doing what he wanted to do in playing both sports. I am not sure people understand the juggling of the schedules and the ability to do both sports. Spring practices in football are important for UCF with a new offensive coordinator, new players joining the team and preparing for a grueling schedule in a new league. At the same time, the grind of a 56-game college baseball schedule wears on any player even if you are not trying to play football.
If he's tired, he won't let you know and you wouldn't know as he keeps on smiling and moving from one commitment to the next. This week will challenge Plumlee but the dude is different and just loves to play....both sports, which is why he will tell you he's "blessed and doing great"...
Nuggets: The Orlando Magic have won five of six and sit at 34-44 with four games remaining. The Magic are not yet eliminated from the play-in but will be in a day or two. But after a 5-20 start, the Magic have gone 29-24. If the Magic posted the same win percentage(.547) over 82 games, the team would have won 45 games. A 45-37 record might have found Orlando as high as sixth in the east, but definitely would have had them in the play-in round. All that gives a Magic fan realistic hope that next season is the breakout season for the team to get into the playoffs and make the next step. The team has also now won a few games to lower their odds in landing the top pick in the NBA Draft. But the Magic still have their pick and the Bulls pick...Speaking of the Magic, Greg Anthony- father of the Magic's Cole Anthony- joined a twitter string of comments of fans talking about his son and his role with the team. The debate hit on Cole's value, his role, whether he should be starting and whether the team should sign him to a long term deal and use up money towards the cap or look at using those dollars elsewhere to improve the team. Greg responded to a fan who posted many positive things about Cole but maybe dollars should be used elsewhere with a tweet that said "I agree with this person..he really knows his stuff. I mean maybe just trade him". The Magic exercised the option on Anthony for 2023-24 but will have to decide if they want to commit long term. The health of Markell Fultz and development of Jalen Suggs have and will play a major role in what the team does with Anthony. He has shown flashes where he is worthy of being a starter and some inconsistencies that make you wonder if he is part of the team's long term plans. Without a long term deal, he is a player the team could use in trades because of his contract status. Greg knows the business of the NBA and any father would defend their son. I think Anthony has been solid for the Magic and loves Orlando, but the NBA is a business and my guess is today, the Magic are not prepared for a long term commitment...Congrats to the Guardians for a win...LIV has come and gone from their tournament in Orlando. I watched about 40 minutes of coverage on TV. It is different from a PGA event and there is nothing wrong with that. I still think they will struggle to generate a following if they can't add more major names. But the team concept is creative and the party atmosphere of events is not offensive to me...Speaking of golf, it's Masters week and the returning champion picks the menu for the Champions Dinner. Scottie Scheffler has chosen hamburger sliders, firecracker shrimp, tortilla soup, Texas ribeye or blackened redfish and warm chocolate chip skillet cookie for dessert...
Final note: Ben Hogan started the Masters' Champion Dinner in 1952. It takes place the Tuesday night of the week of the tournament.