Nov. 28, 2007
Orlando, Fla. (www.ucfathletics.com) - UCF head coach George O'Leary and junior running Kevin Smith were each honored by Conference USA on Wednesday as league officials announced the media's individual football awards. O'Leary was named the league's coach of the year for the second time in the Knights' three seasons in C-USA, while Smith was named the co-offensive player of the year.
The Knights' nine wins on the year tie for the most since UCF moved to the Football Bowl Subdivision in 1996. O'Leary's Knights have now won six-consecutive contests entering Saturday's championship game. The streak marks just the second time in program history that UCF has claimed six-straight victories (1990).
O'Leary, a two-time national coach of the year, has his team poised to make just its second bowl appearance in program history. His team posted a five-game improvement in 2007 and O'Leary also directed UCF's historic turnaround in 2005 when he led his team to the second-best turnaround in NCAA history.
Smith, who shares the offensive honor with Tulsa quarterback Paul Smith, became the 13th player in FBS history to rush for 2,000 yards in a single season last Saturday when he gained 219 against UTEP to give him the national-lead with 2,164 rushing yards on the year. He also leads the nation in scoring with a league-record 26 touchdowns, a figure that is 12th in FBS history.
The individual honor is Smith's second from C-USA in his career after earning freshman of the year honors in 2005. The Miami native tops the nation with a C-USA-record of 11 games of 100 or more yards on the year and has three touchdowns runs of 80 yards or longer. He is the first Conference USA player to be named player of the week four times in season since Louisville's Chris Redman in 1998.
Southern Miss linebacker Gerald McRath was named the league's defensive player of the year, East Carolina senior Chris Johnson earned special teams player of the year honors, Houston quarterback Case Keenum was named freshman of the year and Tulsa wide receiver Brennan Marion was named newcomer of the year.
The Knights will take on Tulsa in the C-USA Championship game on Saturday, Dec. 1, at Bright House Networks Stadium. Kickoff is scheduled for Noon ET and the game will be televised nationally on ESPN. For a complete list of the media's 2007 All-Conference USA teams please visit www.conferenceusa.com.
Great seats to the Knights' showdown with Tulsa can still be purchased through Ticketmaster by calling (407) 839-3900 or by going online at UCFAthletics.com.
For the latest news and information on the Knights, tickets or apparel log on to www.UCFAthletics.com - the official site for UCF varsity sports. Also check out UCFPhotos.com, the exclusive fan source for UCF action sports photos.