From O-Town to Motown, Former Knights Culpepper and Smith Playing for Detroit Lions

Jan. 28, 2010

By Christian Edwards

Former UCF standout running back Kevin Smith and quarterback Danute Culpepper played important roles for the Detroit Lions in the 2009 season. Both players re-wrote the record books at UCF and have remained productive in their NFL careers.

After a solid rookie season in which he finished just 24 yards short of 1,000 yards, UCF all-time leading rusher Kevin Smith was on pace for a solid sophomore season in the NFL. Through week fourteen, Smith had rushed for 747 yards and four touchdowns. He added a career-high 415 yards receiving and a touchdown. In week fourteen, Smith suffered a knee injury, and was placed on injured reserve on December 15th. Despite not playing in the final two games of the season, Smith led the team in rushing attempts (217), yards (747), and rushing touchdowns (four). He also contributed in the passing game as he finished second on the team with 41 receptions and third with 417 receiving yards.

Smith's teammate, quarterback Daunte Culpepper served in a reserve role for most of the season. Detroit selected quarterback Matthew Stafford, with the first pick of the 2009 NFL Draft, and started him for ten games. Culpepper served as a mentor to the inexperienced quarterback.

Culpepper appeared in eight games and started five. The eleven-year veteran finished the season completing 89-of-157 attempts for 945 yards and three touchdowns. He had two games in which he passed for over 250 yards. In week five against the Pittsburgh Steelers, he went 23-of-37 for 282 yards and a touchdown. He finished the game with an 83.4 passer rating. In week 17 against the Chicago Bears, Culpepper had his most successful game of the season as he went 23-of-34 for 262 yards and two touchdowns. He finished that game with a 97.9 passer rating.

In three years at UCF, Smith established 17 school rushing records. Smith finished his career at UCF as the school's all-time leading rusher with 4,679 yards on 905 attempts and 45 touchdowns. He started 34-of-36 games in which he played. As a junior, he was the nation's leading rusher with 2,567 yards. He set an NCAA FBS record with 450 attempts, and his 2,567 yards rushing is the second-highest total in NCAA FBS history. Smith finished the 2007 season as a consensus All-American and was named the 2007 Conference USA Offensive Player of the Year. He finished eighth in the Heisman Trophy balloting.

Culpepper set more than 30 school records after starting 44 games from 1995-98. He completed 889-of- 1,391 passes for 11,412 yards and 82 touchdowns. In 1998, Culpepper finished his senior season 296-of-402 passes for 3,690 yards and 28 touchdowns. He established the NCAA single-season completion percentage record at .736. Culpepper was awarded the 1998 Sammy Baugh Trophy as the nation's top quarterback and finished sixth in Heisman Trophy balloting. He currently holds the school record in career passing completions (889), yards (11,412), and touchdowns (84), and became only the third quarterback in NCAA history to throw for 10,000 yards and rush for 1,000 yards.