DiNovo beat out last season’s number two QB on the depth chart, redshirt sophomore Justin Holman, as well as Boise State transfer and former Dr. Phillips Panther Nick Patti, for the starting job. Freshman Tyler Harris, who may redshirt in 2014, is currently at the bottom of the depth chart.
DiNovo has never taken a regular season snap in a UCF uniform.
“I’m naming him [DiNovo] the number one quarterback going into the first game, Holman and Patti 2A and B and Harris three.” O’Leary told the media following the Knights’ practice on Sunday night. “From a management standpoint, from the sideline to the field, the consistency is what I’m looking for, and I thought Pete elevated himself this week.”
“He handles sideline to huddle, management of huddle the best of the four as far as I was concerned,” O’Leary continued, “and that was really the deciding factor.”
The 6-2, 205-pound right-hander from East Lake High School in Tarpon Springs, Florida was a Rivals three-star recruit and all-state in class 8A as a high school senior. He finished his East Lake career as the all-time leading passer in the history of Pinellas County, breaking records for yards and touchdowns that were previously held by former Tampa Bay Buccaneer QB Shaun King.
He came to UCF as an early enrollee in the Spring of 2013, and impressed the coaches enough in 2013 to earn the Scout Team Player of the Year Award at the team’s end-of-year banquet, but in the 2014 Spring Game, he went just 10/20 for 117 yards, a TD and an INT.
O’Leary said he was impressed with DiNovo’s ability to manage the offense in practice, even when the defense was making things difficult for them.
“I thought the line got solidified a little bit better, and they started putting hats on people,” O’Leary said, “I’m more about managing the game right now with the current players we have, and I thought Pete did the best job of that when the coaches weren’t on the field.”
DiNovo will now follow current Jacksonville Jaguars QB and third-overall draft pick Blake Bortles under center for the Knights.
Assuming he starts for the Knights against Penn State in Ireland on August 30th, DiNovo would be the first freshman to start the season opener at quarterback for the Knights since Daunte Culpepper back in 1995.