SUCCESS OFF OF THE FIELD Since arriving in Orlando, George O’Leary has demanded that his players not only excel on the field, but also succeed in their academic studies. The Knights have followed O’Leary’s lead, posting record numbers in the classroom on several occasions. During the fall of 2008, UCF posted the second-highest in-season grade point average in program history. Fifty-five Knights had a GPA of 3.0 or better. At the conclusion of the 2009 spring semester, the Knights set an O’Leary era GPA record. Forty-nine Knights recorded a 3.0 GPA or better. Ten student-athletes received their bachelor’s degrees, including six current team members. UCF was recognized by the AFCA in 2009 for its outstanding graduation rate as the Knights were one of 23 teams last fall to play in a bowl game and graduate at least 75-percent of its student-athletes. UCF’s APR (Academic Progress Rate) of 972 ranks seventh in the nation amongst public non-miltary schools. • UCF’s team GPA ranks second only to Rice in Conference USA. • During the 2009-10 year, a league-record 46 members of the football team earned spots on the Conference USA Commissioner’s Academic Honor Roll with a 3.0 grade point average or better. • In 2009, 69 Knights wore “Scholar-Baller” helmet decals emblematic of a 3.0 GPA. •
In 2010, T.J. Harnden became the first UCF football player, and the second active student-athlete in any sport, to receive the Order of the Pegasus, the highest honor bestowed by the University upon its students. The award honors outstanding academic achievement, University involvement, leadership and community service. Graduate students are selected separately based on academic achievement, professional or community service, leadership and publication or research experience. 210
In 2009, Rocky Ross became just the third ESPN The Magazine Academic All-American in UCF football history. Ross joined Keith Shologan (2007) to give the Knights two Academic All-Americans in three years. With a 3.88 GPA, Ross was also named to the C-USA All-Academic team with the highest GPA on the 11-man squad. Ross earned a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice and is currently working on a master’s in sports and fitness.
Sha’reﬀ Rashad, who concluded his collegiate career in 2008, epitomized the Knights’ success in the classroom under O’Leary. The safety received his bachelor’s degree in criminal justice, with a minor in psychology. After finishing his undergraduate studies with a 3.428 GPA, he began work on a master’s degree in criminal justice. In spring 2009, Rashad was selected as one of 12 recipients of Conference USA’s Postgraduate Scholarship Awards. He was a semifinalist for the Draddy Trophy and a candidate for the Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award. On the field in 2008, Rashad was an All-C-USA First Team pick after tying for second in the league with five interceptions and later signed a contract with the New York Giants.
Each year the Knights are active in the community, donating their time to worthy causes throughout central Florida. This past season, some of those activities included visits to children at nearby hospitals and elementary schools, visits with special-needs students at a school on the UCF campus and even simply serving as role models for youth football teams. 211
• UCF’s APR (Academic Progress Rate) of 972 ranks seventh in the nation amongst public non-miltary schools. • UCF’s team GPA ranks second on...