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NCAA Football History - Central Florida Golden Knights History

UCF Fight Song

UCF charge onto the field, with our spirit we’ll never yield.

Black and Gold - Charge right through the line

victory is our cry... V-I-C-T-O-R-Y. Tonight our Knights will shine!

U-C-F Knights... UCF let’s go Knights!

Quarterback Daunte Culpepper is named to the Playboy All-America team and earns preseason All-America honors from several publications, including Sports Illustrated, The Sporting News and Football Digest. He is profiled in nearly every major newspaper from New York to Los Angeles and is the subject of television features on numerous outlets including Good Morning America, ESPN, CNN/SI, Hard Copy, George Michael Sports Machine, and ABC Nightly News.

UCF starts its most anticipated, and ultimately most successful, season with a convincing 64-30 win at Louisiana Tech in a showdown of two of the nation's top quarterbacks, Culpepper and Tim Rattay. A week later Culpepper does it again, accounting for seven touchdowns and earning USA Today Player of the Week honors in a 48-0 win against Eastern Illinois.

UCF makes its first national television appearance when ESPN televises its game at Purdue. The Golden Knights come up empty on three first-half attempts inside the Boilermaker 20-yard line and end up on the losing side of a 35-7 game.

UCF strings together five consecutive wins for its best start in school history at 7-1 and Mike Kruczek, named interim head coach after Gene McDowell's resignation January 20, has the interim title traded for long-term contract Nov. 5.

UCF's bid to spoil Auburn's homecoming falls painfully short as a late fumble-while UCF attempts to run out the clock-leads to the game-winning touchdown for the Tigers in a 10-6 heartbreaker.

UCF wraps up its most successful season with a pair of wins at home, including 38-6 triumph against New Mexico in the finale, to finish 9-2.

Culpepper breaks Steve Young's 1983 single-season completion percentage record of 71.3 by completing 73.6 percent of his passes and becomes only the third player in NCAA history to pass for more than 10,000 yards and rush for more than 1,000 yards in a career. He ends the season with more than 30 school records to his credit and becomes the first UCF football player to have his jersey retired.

The Golden Knights accept a conditional bid Dec. 1, to the O'ahu bowl in Hawaii. That sweetness turns sour Dec. 5, when UCLA is upset by Miami, forcing the bowl to take a team from the PAC-10 to fill the opening.

Gene Chizik's hiring as defensive coordinator proves to pay quick dividends as UCF finishes 26th in the nation in total defense after ranking 81st a year earlier. Kruczek's offense finishes sixth in the nation in passing yards per game and seventh in the nation in total yards per game.

Culpepper finishes third in the nation in passing efficiency and third in total offense, while receiver Siaha Burley ranks fifth in receptions per game, seventh in punt return average and 14th in receiving yards per game.

Culpepper finishes sixth in the Heisman Trophy balloting and is named national Co-Player of the Year by the Sports Network, along with Texas running back Ricky Williams. He is also named Dream Team Player of the Year by the NFL Draft Report.

Football News names Culpepper it's Independent Player of the Year and bestows All-Independent honors on offensive linemen Marcus Jenkins and Cornell Green and defensive tackle Justen Moore.

Culpepper becomes UCF's first NFL first- round draft pick as the Minnesota Vikings select him 11th overall. Cornerback Paul Miranda is taken in the fourth by the Indianapolis Colts. Jenkins signs with the Pittsburgh Steelers as a free agent, while Burley signs with the Miami Dolphins, Green signs with the Atlanta Falcolns, and Reginald Doster signs with the Oakland Raiders. Deon Porter signs with the Edmonton Eskimos of the Canadian Football League.

UCF starts the season with the toughest September schedule in the nation, facing four bowl winners from the previous year. All four teams enter the game ranked in the top 25.

#22 Purdue opens the slate in Orlando in front of 40,112 fans in the Citrus Bowl and a 5.5 rating in the Orlando market on Sunshine Network. UCF, playing its first top-25 opponent at home, scores on its opening drive but surrenders 47 unanswered points to see its school record 11-game home winning streak snapped with a 47-13 loss.

Back-to-back losses at #4 Florida and #12 Georgia Tech led up to a thriller at #9 Georgia. Trailing 24-17 late in the fourth quarter, Vic Penn hits Page Sessoms in the endzone for a touchdown, but Javier Beorlegui's extra point attempt hits the upright and bounces away. UCF marches into field goal range (20 yard line) with 22 seconds remaining, but a questionable offensive pass interference call in the endzone seals UCF's fate, a 24-23 loss.

In addition to its foes on the field, UCF is forced to face weather concerns as well. The team juggles practice times and locations in preparation for the Georgia Tech game in order to avoid rain from Hurricane Floyd. A month later UCF shuts out Nicholls State 28-0 in the Citrus Bowl in a blowing mist, the remnants of Hurricane Irene which passes southeast of the stadium earlier in the day.

UCF gets another chance to spoil Auburn's homecoming, only to see the game slip away in the final minutes again. Trailing 10-7 with less than four minutes remaining, the Tigers explode for 21 points in a span of 97 seconds to take a 28-10 win.

UCF's tough season comes to a disappointing close at home when Bowling Green comes back from a 24-12 fourth-quarter deficit to win 33-30 in overtime.

Head coach Mike Kruczek further establishes his reputation for designing potent offenses as UCF finishes the season ranked 15th in passing offense and 22nd in total offense in spite of the daunting schedule. Junior college transfer Vic Penn does an admirable job of replacing All-American quarterback Daunte Culpepper and finishes 12th in the nation in total offense with better than 295 yards per game.

Ricot Joseph blocks a school record three punts on the year, two of which are returned for touchdowns, and returns a punt blocked by Elliot Shorter for a touchdown as well. In all, Charles Huff's kick block squad nullifies eight kicks on the year (five punts, two field goals, and one PAT).

Defensive tackle Justen Moore registers 12 tackles behind the line of scrimmage on the year to finish as UCF's career leader in that category with 36. He is named to the Football News All-Independent team along with safety Damian Demps, center Chris Lorenti, and receiver Charles Lee.

Lee finishes the season one reception shy of the school single-season mark with 87 catches on the year. He finishes sixth in the nation in receptions per game and ninth in yardage per game, and is drafted in the seventh round by the Green Bay Packers.

The team completes a successful campaign with a 7-4 record and notches its 12th winning season in the past 15 years. The season begins on a down note as Georgia Tech scores two touchdowns in the final four minutes of the game for a 21-17 victory. The other three losses were as a result of turnovers as UCF gives up the ball 17 times in those three games.

UCF grabs the biggest win in school history by defeating traditional power Alabama 40-38 in Tuscaloosa to spoil the Tide's Homecoming. Javier Beorlegui launches a 37-yard field goal with three seconds left to cap a 12-play, 59-yard come-from-behind drive to secure the victory. The game is characterized by tremendous momentum swings as Alabama scores 24 unanswered points in one stretch followed by 27 unanswered for UCF.

Vic Penn's separated shoulder in the game against William and Mary opens the door for redshirt freshman Ryan Schneider, who goes 8-of-16 for 115 yards and three touchdowns in his first outing. Schneider finishes the season ranked ninth in national passing efficiency (146.98) and 17th in total offense (249.56).

Damian Demps interception deep in UCF territory in the final seconds preserves UCF's 20-16 victory on the road at Louisiana Tech.

A record crowd of 50,220 fans flock to the Florida Citrus Bowl to watch the Golden Knights take on Virginia Tech, the highest-ranked home opponent ever (#8). Six turnovers prove costly as the Hokies go on to win 44-21. UCF's defense finishes the season ranked 19th in the nation in take-aways. The Golden Knights intercept opposing QBs 15 times (ranking 15th) and force 13 fumbles (25th). Nine different Golden Knights intercept at least one pass during the year. The defense also tallies 35 sacks.

The team finishes the season with an RPI ranking of 46 and is ranked No. 50 in the final Football News poll. Statistically, UCF finishes 2000 ranked 12th in the nation in passing (295.18), 35th in scoring offense (30.27), 28th in total defense (323.82), 33rd in scoring defense and 23rd in passing defense (192.91).

Wide receiver Tyson Hinshaw hauls in a UCF-record 89 receptions in 2000, finishing the year second in the nation with 8.09 catches per game. Hinshaw also finishes the year 10th in receiving yards per game (99.00).

Tito Rodriguez finishes second in the nation in tackles per game, Elton Patterson finishes 15th in sacks per game and Tony Hardman ties for first in fumbles caused and recovered per game.

Kenny Clark plays in the Blue-Gray game, and also plays in the Rotary Gridiron Classic along with Chris Lorenti, Kurt Baumann, and Tyson Hinshaw.

Tyson Hinshaw, Chris Lorenti, Javier Beorlegui, Josh McKibben, Elton Patterson, Tito Rodriguez, and Damian Demps are named to the Football News All-Independent team.

Ryan Schneider, Tyson Hinshaw, Javier Beorlegui, Josh McKibben earn spots on the College Football All-Independent team. Ryan Schneider and Tyson Hinshaw are twice named Independent Player of the Week by College Football, and Schneider is twice named Independent Player of the Week by

Tyson Hinshaw and Chris Lorenti sign with the NFL's Tennessee Titans as free agents, while Kenny Clark signs with the Minnesota Vikings and Damian Demps signs with the Green Bay Packers. Vic Penn signs with the Canadian Football League's British Columbia Lions.


UCF finishes the season 6-5, including a perfect 5-0 at home, in what will turn out to be the team's last season as an independent. It's the Golden Knights' third winning season in the past four years. Three of the five losses are by a touchdown or less.

The season starts with a very disappointing loss at 19th ranked Clemson. It is a game UCF wins statistically, leading Clemson in every category but the most important one, the final score. A fake field goal resulting in a touchdown, and a missed extra point by UCF prove to be the difference in the 21-13 defeat.

Due to the tragic events of September 11, UCF and Louisiana-Lafayette join the rest of the nation in postponing their game. Coaches, players, students, and fans take the weekend off and join the country in mourning the losses of the victims and the heroes.

The weekend after the game cancellation, UCF travels to the Big Easy and takes on Tulane in the Louisiana Superdome. UCF comes up with its first win of the season thanks to redshirt freshman Alex Haynes. Haynes rushes for 148 yards and a school-record four touchdowns in the 36-29 win. It's Haynes' second consecutive 100-yard rushing game.

Four road games and more than a month into the season, UCF finally plays its first home game at the Citrus Bowl. The Golden Knights give the eager home crowd plenty to cheer for in a 24-7 victory against UAB. UCF turns in its best defensive performance of the year and holds UAB to 111 yards of offense. Elton Patterson leads the way for the defense with 14 tackles, including five behind the line of scrimmage, two sacks and also forces a fumble.

UCF's three game winning streak ends with a disappointing 30-27 loss at Utah State. After falling behind 17-0 in the first quarter, UCF comes back in the second when Asante Samuel blocks a field goal that Travis Fisher picks up and returns for a touchdown. With the Aggies leading 30-27 in the final minutes of the fourth quarter, a UCF fumble at the Utah State 23-yard line and ends UCF's hopes of victory.

The biggest news of the season comes off the field when UCF finally finds a conference home after competing as an independent since the inception of the program in 1979. After years of waiting and months of speculation UCF signs an agreement Nov. 1, to enter the Mid-American Conference and compete in the East Division. The move is only for the football team so the rest of UCF's athletics teams remain in the Atlantic Sun Conference.

Mike Kruczek gets his 25th victory as a head coach of the Golden Knights when UCF tops future MAC rival Akron two days after UCF's entrance into the conference is announced. Fueled by Akron's taunting antics before the game, the Golden Knights score a school-record 50 points in the first half en-route to a convincing 57-17 win.

Steve Edwards and Elton Patterson earn Football News honorable mention All-America honors and are named to the Football News All-Independent team along Alex Haynes, Josh McKibben, Tito Rodriguez, and Asante Samuel. McKibben and Rodriguez are also named to the All-Independent team along with Tavirus Davis and Ricot Jospeph. Rashad Jeanty and Haynes earn third and fourth team Freshman All-America honors, respectively, from The Sporting News, and Jeanty is named second team All-Freshman by Football News. Joseph is named second team Verizion Academic All-American.

-McKibben, Roriguez and Edwards are all invited to play in the Rotary Gridiron Classic with teammates Javier Beorlegui Travis Fisher and Mike Hedge.


UCF plays its first season as a member of the Mid-American Conference and finishes runner-up in the East division with a 6-2 record. The Golden Knights finish 7-5 overall, completing their 14th winning season in the past 17 years.

UCF opens the season in front of its largest crowd ever when it travels to Penn State. The game is also televised by ESPN, marking the second time UCF has appeared on national television. UCF battles to the end, but comes up short 27-24 in front of a crowd of 103,029. Freshman kicker Matt Prater makes his debut and shows he is not intimidated by connecting on three of four field goal attempts, including a 53-yarder.

UCF makes its second national television appearance of the year when it squares off with Marshall in Huntington, W. Va. UCF again comes close again, but falls 26-21. The Golden Knights turned the ball over twice on drives late in the fourth quarter.

After spotting the Broncos 14 points in the first quarter, UCF rallies on the road to defeat Western Michigan for its first MAC victory. Asante Samuel's interception at the goal line with 31 seconds remaining sealed the 31-27 come-from-behind win for UCF.

Ryan Schneider makes his mark on the UCF record books with 440 yards passing against Syracuse. He tops the 300-yard plateau seven times and the 400-yard mark twice en route to setting school records for passing yards in a season (3,770) and passing touchdowns in a season (31). He finishes fourth in the country in passing efficiency and fifth in total offense.

Doug Gabriel breaks an 18-year-old school record when he racks up 324 all-purpose yards against Syracuse. Gabriel finishes the year with a school record 1,237 yards receiving and combines with Jimmy Fryzel and his 1,126 yards to become the most prolific single-season receiving tandem at UCF. Fryzel finishes his career with at least one reception in 33 consecutive games, tying him with Charles Lee for second all-time at UCF.

UCF begins construction on its new Wayne Densch Sports Center. The $7 million, 44,000 square-foot home of UCF football goes up in less than a year, giving UCF a new weight room, locker room, coaches offices, and sports medicine facility.

Alex Haynes becomes the first from UCF to rush for more than 1,000 yards in a season since 1995 when he carries the ball 204 times for 1,038 yards. He makes up for lost time by picking up 456 yards in the final three games.

Stanford Rhule (127), Peter Sands (119), and Atari Bigby (104) top the 100-tackle plateau and become the first trio at UCF over the century mark in tackles in a season since 1996.

Former football players Daunte Culpepper, Shawn Jefferson, and Scott Ryerson take their place in the UCF Athletics Hall of Fame, bringing to five the number of gridiron stars enshrined at UCF.

Elton Patterson, Asante Samuel, and Atari Bigby earn first-team All-MAC honors, while Ryan Flinn, Jimmy Fryzel, and Doug Gabriel earn second-team honors. UCF has a total of nine players earn Player-of-the-Week honors in the MAC's East Division for offense, defense, or special teams.

Doug Gabriel becomes the first player from UCF to suit up in the Senior Bowl, while Asante Samuel, Elton Patterson, and Jimmy Fryzel appear in the Rotary Gridiron Classic. Mike Kruczek coaches Team Florida against Team USA, coached by Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen.

Four players hear their names called during the NFL draft and five other players sign as free agents, making it the largest NFL class from UCF in a single year. Those players bring to 26 the number of UCF players who sign an NFL contract in the past five years. Asante Samuel is drafted in the fourth round by New England, Doug Gabriel is drafted in the fifth round by Oakland, Mike Mabry is selected in the seventh round by Baltimore, and Elton Patterson is taken in the seventh round by Cincinnati. Ryan Flinn signs with Seattle, Jimmy Fryzel signs with Miami, Mario Jackson signs with New Orleans, Brian Huff signs with Green Bay, and Taylor Robertson signs with Philadelphia. Robertson, from Ontario, is also taken 13th overall in the Canadian Football League draft by Calgary. After spring football junior Rashad Jeanty leaves school and signs with Edmonton of the CFL.


UCF's football team moves into its new home as the state-of-the-art Wayne Densch Sports Center opens just 16 months after the clearing of the ground begins. The new building houses the team's new locker room, weight room, training room, and meting room, along with new offices for the coaches.

Record-setting quarterback Ryan Schneider is named to the watch lists for both the Johnny Unitas and Davey O'Brien awards and headlines a list of many UCF players garnering individual attention prior to the season. He is in the company of linebacker Stanford Rhule, who is named to the Butkus Award watch list; tailback Alex Haynes, named to the preseason Doak Walker watch list, and strong safety Atari Bigby named to the Bronko Nagurski preseason watch list.

UCF opens its 25th season of football on national television at ninth-ranked Virginia Tech. The Hokies open the ESPN game with 28 unanswered points before UCF rallies with 21 of its own. Virginia Tech closes the game with 21 more points to win 49-28 in front of the largest crowd to ever watch a game in the commonwealth of Virginia in the newly expanded Lane Stadium. Matt Prater makes his UCF punting debut with a school record average of 55.7 yards on six punts.

True to his title, Schneider does it again as the senior sets two new yardage marks en route to leading UCF past Florida Atlantic in the home opener. Schneider passes for 497 yards and finishes with 501 yards of total offense. He smashes his own passing mark and shatters Daunte Culpepper's total offense mark.

Two more football players make their way into the UCF Athletics Hall of Fame. Willie English, UCF's all-time leading rusher, and David Rhodes, UCF's all-time leading receiver, take their place alongside five other former Golden Knights.

Months of speculation turn to reality as UCF accepts an all-sports invitation from Conference USA, which marks an end date of 2005 for UCF's brief football affiliation with the Mid-American Conference.

UCF gets blanked at Ohio 28-0 and one of the longest streaks of its kind in the nation comes to an end. It's the first time UCF is shutout in 209 games dating to 1984.

Prater breaks his own single-game punting average with an average of 57.6 yards on seven punts at Ohio. He finishes the season with an NCAA-leading 47.9 yard-per-punt average en route to earning a spot among the Ray Guy Award Semifinalists and garnering honorable mention All-America honors.

The Orlando Sentinel announces its 25th anniversary team, selected in conjunction with former coaches, administrators and fans. Players from every era of the program are recognized, including Bill Giovanetti from the inaugural team and Asante Samuel, a 2002 graduate. Schneider's senior season ends early due to suspension, halting his bid to top all of Culpepper's records. He finishes his career at UCF with 10,976 passing yards and 82 touchdown passes, second in both categories.

A rash of injuries, defections and suspensions leaves UCF down on talent and the losses mount. After a 3-7 start, Mike Kruczek is relieved of his coaching duties and longtime assistant Alan Gooch is promoted to interim head coach for the final two games.

Gooch makes his coaching debut when UCF plays Marshall in front of an ESPN 2 television audience. It's the first nationally televised UCF home game. Marshall comes out on top 21-7.

A national search leads UCF director of athletics Steve Orsini to hire George O'Leary, the former Bobby Dodd national coach of the year, as the new coach of the Golden Knights. O'Leary finishes his commitment to the Minnesota Vikings as defensive coordinator before turning his full attention to UCF. In the meantime, O'Leary assembles a staff to work in his absence. At his hiring press conference O'Leary calls UCF a sleeping giant. His hiring prompts feature articles in national publications such as Sports Illustrated, ESPN the Magazine and the USA Today.

Prater and Bigby earn All-MAC honors. For Bigby it's the second such first-team honor, while Prater earns second-team honors for the first time.

Tight end Michael Gaines, who is ineligible for the 2003 season, plays in the Blue-Gray game and is drafted by the Carolina Panthers in the seventh round. Offensive lineman David Ashkinaz plays in the East West Shrine Game and joins Gaines in the NFL when he signs with the Atlanta Falcons as a free agent.

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