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1986 - Ted Wilson becomes the first Knight to be drafted by the NFL

1979 - Inaugural game vs. St. Leo


• During his inaugural address, UCF President Trevor Colbourn announces that the school will “explore the possibility of developing a football program.” Later, Colbourn and director of athletics Jack O’Leary approve a decision to form a football team to begin play in the fall of 1979 as an NCAA Division III program. Former professional football player Don Jonas becomes the school’s first coach on a volunteer basis. On Aug. 28, 148 prospective players participate in the program’s first practice. Less than one month later on Sept. 22, UCF travels to St. Leo for its first game and wins 21-0. Bobby Joe Plain scores the school’s first touchdown on a 13-yard pass reception from Mike Cullison in the first quarter. The following week, UCF plays its first home contest at the Tangerine Bowl and posts a 7-6 victory over Fort Benning in front of 14,138 fans.



• UCF begins a local rivalry, meeting Bethune-Cookman in the first Mayor’s Trophy game. The Wildcats escape with a 24-20 win. Kicker Scott Ryerson is a third-team All-America selection, while center Dan Burke and linebackers Eddie James and Bill Giovanetti earn honorable mention status. Following the season, head coach Don Jonas resigns to become director of the UCF Gridiron Club.

• Gene McDowell, an assistant at Florida State, is named UCF’s head coach and athletics director. UCF wins its first game under McDowell when Ed O’Brien kicks a school-record 55-yard field goal as time expired to defeat Bethune-Cookman, 39-37. UCF meets its first NCAA Bowl Subdivision opponent, playing at Louisville.

Don Jonas


• The team begins the season • UCF records its first win against an 4-1. UCF sets a NCAA Football Championship Subdivi- new attendance when sion opponent, defeating Austin Peay, record 10-7 on the road. Ted Wilson returns a 23,760 watch Knights kick 100 yards for a touchdown against the Southeastern Louisiana and finishes play Wofford second in the nation in kick return aver- for Homecoming. The conage with 30.5 yards per return. Gene McDowell test features a post-game performance by the Beach Boys. The Knights went 6-5 during the year to post their • After the squad gets off to a first winning campaign slow start, head coach Lou Saban since the announces his resignation. Jerry inaugural Anderson is named interim head season coach. Following the campaign, in 1979. offensive lineman Dan Burke Linebacker signs a contract with the New Wyatt BogJersey Generals of the United gan leads States Football League. Kicker the team Scott Ryerson is drafted by with 143 the Tampa Bay Bandits of the tackles and USFL and signs a free-agent earns Footdeal with the National FootScott Ry ball News Allball League’s Atlanta Falcons. erson America First Team honors. Wide receiver Ted Wilson becomes the first UCF player selected in the National Football League Draft when the Washington Redskins take him in the 10th round. Tailback Elgin Davis is picked in the 12th round by the New England Patriots.



• After the UCF Athletic Authority votes in January to make the football head coaching job a fulltime position, Don Jonas is selected for the role. The Knights win four games during the campaign and in an 18-14 victory over Emory and Henry, Michael O’Shaughnessy tallies a school-record five sacks. Following the season, cornerback Tim Kiggins earns third-team All-America honors and becomes the first UCF player to sign a professional contract when he joins the Toronto Argonauts of the Canadian Football League.


Mike Cullison

Michael O’Shaughnessy


• Following Don Jonas’ resignation, associate head coach Sam Weir is named the program’s interim head coach. New athletics director Bill Peterson announces that UCF will compete as a Division II program during the year. With the move to D-II, the school begins awarding athletics scholarships. Following the season, four Knights sign professional contracts: tight end Mike Cater with the National Football League’s Denver Broncos and defensive end Ed Gantner, linebacker Bill Giovanetti and offensive lineman Mike Sommerfield with the Tampa Bay Bandits of the United States Football League. Following the season, New York Yankees president and former Buffalo Bills head coach Lou Saban is named UCF’s head coach.


Ed O’Brien

1987 - Darin Slack named a

1993 - The Knights went 9-3

second-team All-American


• The Knig Knights post a school-record fivegame win winning streak during the year, outscoring their opponents, 242-67, during the th stretch. UCF finishes the regular se season with an 8-3 record, good enough for fo its first bid to the Division II p yoffs. In pla I the first round of the playplayoff offs, the t host Knights record a 1210 win over Indiana University of Pennsylvania. The following week the squad falls to eventual national champion Troy. Wideout Bernard Ford and kicker Ed O’Brien earn AllAmerica First Team honors from several outlets, including the Associated Press. Quarterback Darin Slack and linebacker Mike Coad receive Football News All-America Second Team recognition. Ford is tabbed ed in the third round of the National Footootball League ue Draft by thee Buffalo Bills and defensive back Corris Ervin is taken in the fifth round by the Denver Broncos. Bernard Ford


• UCF opens the campaign with five-consecutive wins and moves to second in the NCAA Division II national rankings. A crowd d of 31,789 attends UCF’s 26-18 victory over defending national champion Troy at the Citrus Bowl. Defensive lineman Steve Spears and offensive lineman Dave Underwood earn Football Gazette All-America honors.

1995 - Marquette Smith was drafted in the fifth round by the Carolina Panthers




• UCF President John C. Hitt announces UCF’s intention to move to the Football Bowl Subdivision ranks by 1996. UCF makes history as the first college squad to a play a Russian team on American soil as it defeats the Moscow Bears of the Russian League of American Football, 42-6, on Oct. 3. During the year, Gene McDowell relinquishes his duties as athletics director to concentrate his efforts on coaching the football team.

• In its final campaign at the Division II level, UCF defeats three Football Championship Subdivision schools. The Knights finish the season strong, winning six of their final seven games to complete the year 7-3. Shawn Jefferson

• UCF moves to the Football Championship Subdivision ranks and goes 104. The Knights become the first school in history to qualify for the FCS playoffs in their first season of eligibility. In the first round of the playoffs, UCF draws previously undefeated Youngstown State on the road. Franco Grilla hits a 34-yard field goal as time expires to give the Knights a 2017 victory. Host UCF downs William & Mary, 5238, in the second round of the playoffs to set up a semifinal matchup with eventual national champion Georgia Southern in Statesboro, Ga. Following the year, Gene McDowell is awarded the Eddie Robinson Trophy by The Sports Network as the national coach of the year. Wide receiver Shawn Jefferson is drafted in the ninth round by the National Football League’s Houston Oilers.

Franco Grilla

Daunte Culpepper

• The Knights host their first Football Bowl Subdivision squad, facing East Carolina at the Citrus Bowl. Linebacker Bobby Spitulski is named to Associated Press All-America Third Team and is selected in the third round of the National Football League Draft by the Seattle Seahawks.




• UCF wins six of its first seven games, with the only loss coming from Football Bowl Subdivision’s East Carolina. The Knights claim three of their final four games to finish the regular season with a 9-2 mark. The squad earns a berth in the playoffs and faces host Youngstown State in the opening round. Greg Jefferson


• The Knights begin the year as Sports Ill u s t r a t e d ’s pick to win the Football Championship Subdivision title. Due a rash of injuries on defense, UCF finishes the year 7-4. Kick returner Todd Cleveland garners The Sports Network All-America Second Team honors. Defensive end Greg Jefferson is picked in the third round of the National Football League Draft by the Philadelphia Eagles.

• On June 21, UCF receives official word from the NCAA that its bid for reclassification to the Football Bowl Subdivision has been approved and will take effect Sept. 1, 1996. Against a top-notch schedule, UCF goes 6-5. The Knights open the season with a 40-32 victory over fifth-ranked Eastern Kentucky. Freshman Daunte Culpepper completes 20 of 25 passes for 254 and three scores and earns national player of the week honors. Tailback Marquette Smith is named to the Football Gazette All-America Second Team and is drafted in the fifth round by the National Football League’s Carolina Panthers.


• The Knights play their inaugural campaign at the Football Bowl Subdivision level and go 5-6. Behind quarterback Daunte Culpepper, UCF finishes the campaign 16th in the nation in passing offense.


2003 - The program moved into the 2000 - UCF defeated Alabama

Wayne Densch Sports Center

on the road

1998 - Daunte Culpepper 1997 - The Knights

guided the Knights to a 9-2 record

nearly defeated Nebraska



• UCF faces a tough schedule that in- • Quarterback Daunte Culpepper earns cludes four squads from the Southpreseason All-America honors from eastern Conference and naseveral outlets, including Sports Iltional champion Nebraska. lustrated and The Sporting News. UCF garners national attenUCF makes its first national televition after leading Nebraska sion appearance when ESPN teleby three points at halftime vises its game at Purdue. before falling by The Knights finish the two touchdowns campaign 9-2. Culto the host Cornpepper breaks Steve huskers. A reYoung’s 1983 singlecord crowd of season completion 41,827 turns out percentage record of for UCF’s home 71.3 by completing opening victory 73.6 percent of his over Idaho. Quarpasses. He becomes terback Daunte only the third player Culpepper sets in school history to 15 school records. pass for more than He is a finalist for 10,000 yards and Dwight Collins the Davey O’Brien rush for more than National Quarterback 1,000 yards in a career. Award, a semifinalist for the Football Culpepper concludes the year with News Offensive Player of the Year more than 30 school records to his and is named to the American Foot- credit. The signal caller finishes sixth ball Coaches Association Good Works in the balloting for the Heisman Trophy Team. Tailback Dwight Collins, who is and is named national co-player of the deaf, receives Disney’s Wide World of year by The Sports Network. Culpepper Sports Spirit Award for being the na- becomes UCF’s first National Football tion’s most courageous student-ath- League first-round draft pick as the Minlete. Running backs coach Alan Gooch nesota Vikings select him 11th overall. is named the assistant coach of the Cornerback Paul Miranda is taken in the year by the American Football Coaches fourth round by the Indianapolis Colts. Association for his work with Collins. epper Daunte Culp Following the season, Gene McDowell resigns as head coach and is replaced by longtime offensive coordinator Mike Kruczek.

Mike Kruczek

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• UCF starts the campaign with • UCF plays its first the toughest September schedseason as a member ule in the nation, facing four of the Mid-American bowl winners from the preConference and finvious year. All four teams ishes second in the enter the games with the east division with Knights ranked in the top a 6-2 league mark. 25. UCF hosts a top-25 Three Knights earn foe for the first time, playAll-MAC First Team ing No. 22 Purdue in front honors. Wideout Doug of 40,112 fans at the CitGabriel becomes the rus Bowl. Wideout Charles first player from UCF to Asante Samuel Lee is drafted in the seventh play in the Senior Bowl. round by the National FootFour Knights are seball League’s Green Bay Packers. lected in the National Football League Draft: cornerback Asante Samuel (New England Patriots, fourth round), Gabriel (Oakland Raiders, fifth round), offensive • The Knights record one of the biggest lineman Mike Mabry (Baltimore Ravens, victories in school history by defeating seventh round) and defensive lineman traditional power Alabama, 40-38, in Elton Patterson (Cincinnati Bengals, Tuscaloosa. Javier Beorlegui gives UCF seventh round). Offensive lineman Taythe win with a 37-yard field goal with lor Robertson is tabbed by the Calgary three seconds remaining to spoil the Stampeders with the 13th overall selection in the Canadian FootCrimson Tide’s ide’s homecoming game. A ball League Draft. school record ord 50,220 fans watch the


Knights host st No. 8 Virginia Tech.


• The biggest est news for UCF comes off of the field when the school finally finds a conferencee home for football. On Nov. 1, UCF signs gns an agreement to enter the he Mid-Amer-ican Con-ference for footballl in 2002. On the field, offensive lineman an Steve Edwards and defensive sive lineman Elton Patterson earn Football News All-Americaa honorable mention honors. rs. Following the year, defensive nsive back Travis Fisher is draft afted in the second he Nationround by the al Football League’s ams. St. Louis Rams.

Elton Patterson

2005 - UCF hosted the Conference

2007 - Bright House Networks Stadium opened

USA Championship Game

2007 - Kevin Smith had a record-setting campaign


• UCF’s football program moves into its new home as the state-of-the-art Wayne Densch Sports Center opens just 16 months after construction began. The school accepts an invitation into Conference USA for all sports. The Knights will end t h e i r b r i e f fo o t b a l l affiliation with the MidAmerican Conference following the 2004 campaign. The year serves as the 25th season of UCF football. After a 3-7 start, head coach Mike Kruczek is relieved of his duties and longtime assistant Alan Gooch is promoted to interim head coach for the final two games. Gooch makes his coaching debut when the Knights play Marshall on ESPN2 in Orlando. The contest serves as the first nationally-televised home game in school history. Following the season, George O’Leary is selected as UCF’s new head coach. Tight end Michael Gaines is taken in the seventh round of the National Football League Draft by the Carolina Panthers.

Brandon Marshall


• After missing the team’s first game of the season, new head coach George O’Leary makes his UCF debut as the Knights host 10th-ranked West Virginia at the Citrus Bowl. The Knights open the campaign with one of the nation’s toughest schedules, traveling to face Wisconsin and Penn State and hosting West Virginia.


• The Knights win their inaugural Conference USA contest, recording a 23-13 win over visiting Marshall. The victory snaps a 17-game losing streak for the Knights. The team goes on to win eight contests, including seven in league play, during the regular season. UCF hosts the inaugural C-USA Championship game, which is played in front of a school-record 51,978 fans at the Citrus Bowl. Despite falling to Tulsa in the title game, UCF earns an invitation to the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl, marking the first bowl game in program history. The Knights post one of the top turnarounds in college football history, going 8-5 after an 0-11 campaign in 2004. Head coach George O’Leary is named the C-USA Coach of the Year, in addition to garnering national coach of the year honors from and Tailback Kevin Smith garners the C-USA Freshman of the Year award. Wideout Brandon Marshall is selected in the fourth round of the National Football League Draft by the Denver Broncos. During the year, the UCF Board of Trustees approves a financing plan for an on-campus stadium that will open in 2007.


• Prior to the season, Bright House Networks acquires the naming rights to the new stadium. UCF closes out its long tenure at the Citrus Bowl on Nov. 25, with a 31-22 Conference USA win over UAB. After a record-breaking season in which he recorded a school-best 90 receptions, wide receiver Mike SimsWalker is selected by the Jacksonville Jaguars in the third round of the NFL Draft. Offensive lineman Cedric Gagne-Marcoux is picked eighth overall by the Hamilton TigerCats in the Canadian Football League Draft.

straight victories, earning the right to host Tulsa in the Conference USA Championship Game. UCF captures the C-USA title with a 44-25 victory and earns a spot in the AutoZone Liberty Bowl against Mississippi State. During the campaign, tailback Kevin Smith posts one of the finest seasons in NCAA history. He rushes for 2,567 yards, which ranks second all-time behind only Barry Sanders. Smith earns CUSA Co-Player of the Year recognition and becomes the first player in UCF history to earn consensus All-America honors. Head coach George O’Leary is named the C-USA Coach of the Year and defensive lineman Keith Shologan is named to the ESPN The Magazine Academic All-America First Team. The Detroit Lions take Smith in the third round of the National Football League Draft, while offensive lineman Josh Sitton (Green Bay Packers, fourth round) and tight end Mike Merritt (Kansas City Chiefs, seventh round) are also selected. Shologan is picked by the Saskatchewan Roughriders with the fourth overall selection in the CFL Draft.


• The Knights post a 4-8 record and 3-5 mark in league play, but see punt and kickoff returner Joe Burnett become a first-team All-America selection after breaking every major school and CUSA career punt return record. He finishes his career ranked 19th in NCAA history in career punt return yardage and is drafted in the fifth round of the NFL Draft by the Pittsburgh Steelers. Mike Sims-Walker


• After a season-opening win at NC State, the Knights play on campus for the first time, hosting sixth-ranked Texas in the inaugural game at Bright House Networks Stadium. In front of 45,622 fans, the Longhorns escape with a 35-32 victory. The Knights complete the regular season with six-


• The Knights win each of their last six C-USA games to go 8-5 and earn a spot in the St. Petersburg Bowl behind quarterback Brett Hodges who had transferred from Wake Forest for his senior year. Bruce Miller is C-USA’s Defensive Player of the Year and Josh Robinson is named a freshman All-American. Torell Troup is taken in the second round of the NFL Draft by the Buffalo Bills. 109