When UCF wrapped up spring practice, coach Josh Heupel said the Knights' quarterback situation would sort itself out during the summer.
A four quarterback race has suddenly become a three-man competition with the news Darriel Mack Jr. suffered a broken ankle during a non-football related activity. Heupel said the redshirt sophomore would not be available for training camp and that there was no specific timetable for his return.
A broken ankle can take anywhere from six to 12 weeks to heal, depending on the severity of the injury, which means it's doubtful Mack will be ready for the start of the season. And with Heisman candidate McKenzie Milton unlikely to return this season as he recovers from a catastrophic knee injury that nearly cost him his leg, someone else will need to step up.
It makes the addition of Notre Dame graduate transfer Brandon Wimbush one of the Knights' biggest wins of the offseason.
Wimbush's college career has featured extreme highs and lows. Surprise twists and turns eventually led him to Orlando with a chance to have a major impact on a program that has only lost one game during the past two seasons.
Wimbush arrived at Notre Dame as a four-star prospect out of St. Peters Prep (N.J.). He was the highest-ranked signee in the Fighting Irish's 2015 recruiting class, joining a roster that already featured quarterbacks Malik Zaire and DeShone Kizer.
Wimbush took over the starting job following a redshirt season in 2016 and after the departure of Kizer to the NFL. He led the Irish to a 10-3 record, but he was benched midway through the first half of the team's win over LSU in the Citrus Bowl.
The following year, he once again opened the season as Notre Dame's starting quarterback and led the team to 3-0 record. The run included a 24-17 win over then-No. 14 Michigan. But erratic play and an increasing number of turnovers saw Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly name Ian Book the team's new starter. Book started eight of the remaining nine games, with Wimbush earning a spot start against Florida State.
Wimbush started 16 games at Notre Dame, leading the team to a 13-3 record along the way. He became the first Irish quarterback to account for at least 1,000 career rushing yards since Tony Rice in 1988. Wimbush finished his Notre Dame career with 1,156 yards and 16 touchdowns.
He's completed 50% of his 382 career passes for 2,606 yards, 20 touchdowns and 12 interceptions.
Wimbush arrived at UCF in mid-January after leaving Notre Dame as a graduate transfer.
He said the opportunity to compete for a starting quarterback job convinced him UCF was the perfect place for him to finish out his college career.
"I thought any school that would allow me to come in and compete for a starting position and give me the opportunity to do so would be a good place for me to go and play my last year of college football," Wimbush said during spring practice. "There were other opportunities and I had family down here this way, so I thought it was a good spot for me to end up."
Milton's injury and Wimbush's arrival sparked a four-man quarterback competition between Wimbush, Mack, Quadry Jones and true freshman Dillon Gabriel.
Wimbush has, by far, the most college football experience. Mack started three games last season in place of injured Milton. Jones appeared in one game last season for one snap on a successful trick play, while Gabriel was setting Hawaii high school passing records during his senior season.
Despite his pedigree and extensive game-day snaps, Heupel said Wimbush wasn't guaranteed the starting job when he first arrived on campus.
"We don't ever promise anybody in recruiting," Heupel said. "We promised them the opportunity to come and compete and earn a spot. We promised that we're going to pour energy and time into him and help him become the best version of himself as a football player."
Wimbush spent much of spring practice playing catch-up with the newest Knights learning the offensive system and the terminology that goes with it. But his presence made a positive impression on the coaching staff and his new teammates.
"He's big. He's a 225-, 230-pound kid. He's got a lot of athleticism but he's an intelligent dude, but he's got a lot of tools and it's gonna be good to see him compete," UCF quarterback coach Jeff Lebby said of the traits Wimbush brings to the team.
Receiver Tre Nixon said of his new teammate, "He's a bigger guy, so he can run the ball. He has a really strong arm and just like all the other quarterbacks, he's good on and off the field."
Fans were treated to a glimpse of what Wimbush can provide during the team's spring game in April. He went 6-of-15 passing for 92 yards with a touchdown while rotating with the three other quarterbacks throughout the game.
Afterward, Wimbush summed up his spring by saying, "I thought I saw significant improvement not from just myself, but from the entire quarterback room, so I'm excited about that and where it leads us going into the summer."