Dec. 28, 2007
Orlando, Fla. (www.ucfathletics.com) - There is only one function left for the UCF football team in Memphis and that is the game on Saturday vs. Mississippi State. The Knights have been in town for three days and have been able to enjoy the activities set forth by the AutoZone Liberty Bowl committee, but there complete focus is now on the contest with the Bulldogs.
Following a busy Thursday that included a two-hour morning practice and an awards ceremony put on by Conference USA, the Knights held their own awards banquet later that evening to honor the 19 seniors and the team's individual award winners.
Junior running back Kevin Smith took home three individual honors, claiming the outstanding offensive back award, the outstanding offensive player award and the overall team MVP award. Smith was UCF's first ever consensus All-American.
Senior captain Kyle Smith, who will make his 46th career start in the AutoZone Liberty Bowl, was named the team's most outstanding offensive lineman. Senior Mike Merritt and junior Pat Brown shared the most improved offensive player award, while junior Rocky Ross was named the most outstanding receiver after leading the team in catches during the regular season.
The 11 defensive starters shared the most outstanding defensive player award after the unit tied for the national lead with 23 interceptions and led Conference USA in sacks with 38. Senior Leger Douzable, who led the team with 7.5 sacks was named the team's most outstanding defensive lineman.
Junior Cory Hogue, who collected 69 tackles in 11 starts, was the team's top linebacker and junior safety Sha'reff Rashad was the team's most outstanding defensive back. Rashad led the team in tackles with 94.Redshirt freshman Bruce Miller was the named the most improved defensive player. Miller had seven sacks in his first action for the Knights.
The outstanding special teams player award went to senior placekicker Michael Torres, who has connected on a school record 19 field goals this season and has made 15 straight entering his final game.
Senior defensive captain Keith Shologan took home a pair of individual honors as he claimed the `UCF Way' award and also the `Academic Excellence' award. Shologan will appear in his 50th game for the Knights on Saturday and was named an ESPN The Magazine first team All-American.
Senior Neil Bittong took home the `Kodak' award, which is given annually to the team's top show team player. Bittong collected his first career sack in the Knights' homecoming victory over Marshall.
The team's `Service and Recognition' honor went to the school's president, Dr. John C. Hitt for his contributions and the vision he set out for the UCF football program.
On Friday morning, the Knights participated in a couple of more functions as 18 Knights participated in the Fellowship of Christian Athlete's breakfast at the Memphis Hilton. NFL Hall of Famer Bruce Matthews was the keynote speaker at the event that was attended by several hundred people.
The 19 seniors who were honored at the awards banquet spent a portion of their morning at St. Jude's Children Hospital visiting with patients at one of the world's most renowned pediatric cancer hospitals.
The 49th annual AutoZone Liberty Bowl is set to kickoff at 4:30 p.m. ET and will be televised live on ESPN.