UCF Takes ChargeOn Road Show to Tampa, Lauderdale

It's been a little more than a year now since Terry Mohajir took over as vice president and director of athletics at UCF.
During that time, imagine how often he has been asked about his plans for the Knights' athletic programs.
As UCF kicked off its annual Charge-On Tour Friday in Tampa and Saturday in Fort Lauderdale, Mohajir opted to summarize the questions he routinely has been asked—and add a little audience participation to boot.
Said Mohajir, "Since I got here last February (2021), we've made all kinds of appearances and a lot of people ask me a lot of different questions. Let me give you a little bit of a recap.
"The first question I always got was, 'Is UCF  going to be able to get into a Power 5 conference?'" he offered.
"Well, in September we were invited to join the Big 12, so I say . . . ." And the audience responded with a loud "CHECK."
"I heard, 'Terry, are we going to win conference championships this year?'
"We've won three conference titles to date (volleyball, women's basketball, women's indoor track and field—and the Knights added a fourth Sunday with a regular-season American Athletic Conference crown in softball)." Check.
"'How are your academics? Are you going to focus on that with your new administration?'
"This past year our cumulative GPA in athletics was 3.3." Check.
"'Terry, what's important to you when it comes to competition? We want to be in postseason play.'
"Well, to date we have been in six NCAA Championships this year (not including a football bowl win and the potential for additional spring NCAA participation in softball, rowing, baseball and women's outdoor track and field)." Check.
"'Terry, is being in the top 25 important to you?'
"We've had seven teams in the top 25 this year, so I say . . . ." Check.
"'Hey, Terry, what are you going to do to upgrade our facilities?'
"We've had $4 million dollars in upgrades this last year, including improvements to the football and softball facilities, a new indoor football practice field and lots more." Check.
"'What about any new facilities, Terry?'
"We announced new conceptual designs for our football campus (a south endzone facility and a plaza adjacent to the Wayne Densch Sports Center), and we made national news." Check.
"We now have 8,800 donors to UCF Athletics, most in the history of our program—and our goal is 10,000. So, I say . . . check!
"We think enough of everyone who signs a National Letter of Intent to come to UCF that we promise every single one of our seniors placement either in a job or a graduate program.
"And I'm proud to say in our first year we had 100 percent placement." Check.
Mohajir indicated that far and away the most popular question has been, "What's your philosophy on playing the Florida Gators?"
"My response was, 'It doesn't matter. We will play them any time, any place.'"
The Knights last fall announced a three-game series with Florida. Check.
Added master of ceremonies and UCF deputy athletics director Rick Zvosec with a grin, "The amazing thing about that guy is he has not had one Red Bull yet today. He has had four or five cups of coffee."
Joining Mohajir on tour are Knight head coaches Gus Malzahn (football), Johnny Dawkins (men's basketball) and Todd Dagenais (volleyball).
Here's a summary of some of their comments:
--Malzahn said, "It was an interesting first year. Got here late, went through spring, learned our players on the practice field. Then we got off to a pretty good start. Then our quarterback gets hurt—in week three it seemed like half our team got hurt, I think we lost eight starters. Then I got hurt. But it was really rewarding for me as a coach to watch our team fight through that adversity. Another team might have folded like a cheap tent. We were playing our best football in the last part of the season. When that happens and you have a big bowl win you've got some momentum. They stuck together and then got some confidence.
"Now we've got some transfers who have joined us—and some of those guys were the best players on their teams. Our coaching staff did a great job enabling us to have a great recruiting year. You walk through our facility and there's a lot of confidence right now. Our guys performed well in the spring game. We need to have a good summer and then get ready for game one.
"We said we were going to recruit the state of Florida like our hair was on fire, and that's exactly what we did. We signed 12 high school players from Florida and that was important. We want the top players around us to stay home. So we felt like we built the foundation.
"The Big 12 is a game-changer. It already has changed recruiting. It opens the door for us for the top players.
"With NIL, something changes every week. We've got to be flexible and we've got to embrace it.
"We had some tough losses last year, like Cincinnati and SMU. We've got a real chance – what I mean by that is we've got a chance to be really good. With that, we've got to stay healthy. We've got two real quarterbacks and that's a great thing. Mikey (Keene) has made a lot of progress—he's bigger, faster, stronger. John Rhys Plumlee by the end of the spring was like a video game—it was hard to grab his flag. We're in good hands at that position."
--Offered Dawkins, "We had some good wins this past year—including a very good Memphis team, a Michigan team that went to the NCAA Sweet 16 and a Miami team that went to the Elite 8. But we could have been better.
"We've got the 54th best individual player coming in Taylor Hendricks (6-9 power forward from Fort Lauderdale), the highest-rated player in UCF history I believe. We've also got some transfers coming in, and as you know the transfer portal has become a significant part of the recruiting process. These guys will fit our culture and enhance our brand and make you proud. They'll do a lot of things to make us better.
"We always want to play a challenging schedule. Florida State comes to our place to play this year. We are starting a two-year series with Ole Miss, with the first game there this year. We go to the Bahamas and play two games, with Oklahoma State and DePaul also in that event.
"We're excited to get to the Big 12. Going to that league will enhance our brand. Recruiting will continue to pick up because we can now more actively recruit all those areas in that conference. Our program is in a good place and it's going to be in a great place in the future."
--Said Dagenais, "Our program has had significant growth, winning our fifth conference championship (last fall) in six years. We're pretty proud of what we've done, and on top of that our team just finished with a 3.71 GPA for the spring semester. They are doing everything they can off the court to make you proud as well.
"Because of Covid, some of our veteran players, such as McKenna Melville, have a chance to win a fifth conference championship ring in the 2022 season. It may never happen again.
"Our schedule isn't official yet, but we expect to play Kansas, Kansas State, Miami, Florida State and a bunch of other teams that won their conference last year. It's going to be a top-15 schedule.
"Our team is humble and hungry. We enjoyed that last championship for a couple of days, and then it was, 'What's next?' That's not me, that's the team's attitude. They still think they have something to do. The culture is set—we have to pull them off the court and out of practice at times and limit what they are doing.
"My best UCF memory? In 2014 we won our first conference championships and later that year all six of our seniors graduated with master's degrees."
The 2022 UCF ChargeOn Tour has threes stops remaining:
Tuesday, May 24 – Space Coast
Location: Gator's Dockside (683 Dave Nisbet Drive, Port Canaveral, FL 32920)
Time: 5:30-7:30 p.m.
Thursday, May 26 – Oviedo
Location: Oviedo on the Park (357 Center Lake Lane, Oviedo, FL 32765)
Time: 5-8 p.m.

Friday, August 12 – Downtown Orlando
Location: Ace Cafe (100 West Livingston Street, Orlando, FL 32801)
Time: 5-8 p.m.
New UCF head women's basketball coach Sytia Messer will make her ChargeOn Tour debut on the Space Coast and in Oviedo.
Activities at each ChargeOn Tour stop include a social hour and autograph session as well as a formal portion of the program with remarks from Mohajir and Knight coaches.
The ChargeOn Tour is open to Knights of all ages and is free for all to attend. Fans are encouraged to register for each event by clicking here.