In the weeks leading up the seventh annual NFLPA Collegiate Bowl on Jan. 20 at the Rose Bowl Stadium, we will profile 10 draft-eligible players who have committed to play in the prestigious all-star game. Today’s feature is on UCF defensive lineman Tony Guerad.
Central Florida’s rise from winless to undefeated (and arguable national champion) was brought to fruition by many big-name players and personalities on the team. But none of that would have been possible without athletes like Tony Guerad doing their absolute best to anchor the team’s performance week-in and week-out.
After a promising stint as a sophomore for the Black Knights during their infamous 0-11 run in 2015, Guerad reportedly wanted to leave the team after putting up only five tackles for a loss and two sacks. Luckily for UCF, he came back the following season and the benefits were almost immediate.
In a tightly contested game against Maryland, Guerad had two sacks and three tackles for a loss while routinely disrupting the offensive line. He followed that effort up with another 1.5 sacks against East Carolina before going the rest of the season without another quarterback takedown. However, it’d be wrong to quantify Guerad’s impact based on just his sacks.
UCF’s reputation as having a staunch defense grew with each week as he became more comfortable in the trenches. To wit, he finished with 12 total tackles in UCF’s penultimate game in 2016 against Tulane. His nonstop motor and constant upfield drive freed up his linebackers to clean up any runners who made it past the initial wave.
Guerad’s senior year coincided with UCF’s magical run this past season, and that is no coincidence. He had nine total tackles for loss on the year, along with numerous games where he continually pressured the quarterback and forced running backs to make poor decisions in the backfield. Though he did not have a game where he posted more than two TFLs, he had at least 0.5 tackle for loss in eight of the games UCF played.
He especially showed up for big games, including the rivalry matchup against USF, which saw him record 1.5 tackles for loss and 0.5 sack, doing his part to slow down the explosive Bulls offense. It worked well enough for the Black Knights to squeak by with a 49-42 victory.
Guerad again took center stage in UCF’s win over Auburn. He had another half a sack and 1.5 tackles for a loss, and the Tigers could not seem to get the ball moving when he stood in their path. At 6 feet 4 inches and listed at over 300 pounds, it was not easy to stop Guerad from where he wants to go. His willingness to work and do the dirty work endeared him to UCF fans, and will serve him well in his future.