A year ago there weren’t a lot of people in Orlando that knew much about coach Josh Heupel beyond his playing career to Oklahoma. A year later, Heupel has led the UCF Knights to a 12-0 regular-season and an AAC Championship Game win. And now, a new contract to stay with UCF, as well.
The school announced a contract extension on Friday that will keep Heupel, as part of the Knights through 2024:
Pumped to have @coachjoshheupel under contract even longer here in Orlando!
— UCF Football (@UCF_Football) December 7, 2018
In the statement Heupel said about agreeing to stay:
“I am truly honored to have the opportunity to lead this group of young men and represent this great university,” Heupel said. “My family and I have found an amazing community to call home. I am looking forward to the future of this program. I can’t thank Danny White and Dale Whittaker enough for their support and belief in what we’re doing.”
Heupel came to UCF last December as the highly-touted offensive coordinator at Missouri. He had previously been the offensive coordinator for his alma mater, the Sooners.
However, the coach that recruited and coached him, Bob Stoops, eventually relieved Heupel of his duties in a shake-up with the Oklahoma offense of staff.
While contract terms were not released, clearly Heupel will be getting a raise over the $1.7 million, that he received for this past season in base salary. He likely will have the assistants pool increased from $2.5 million that it was this past year, as well.
Heupel also had a massive early buyout in his deal, if he tried to leave for another job before the possible 2020 UCF bowl game of $10 million dollars. That was likely lessened in this new contract.
The Knights continued their 2017 success this past season under Heupel’s leadership with quarterback McKenzie Milton lighting up scoreboards across the country and Milton winning the AAC Offensive Player of the Year for a second consecutive season.
As you’re probably aware Milton suffered a horrific leg injury and backup quarterback Darriel Mack took over during the USF regular season finale and led the knights to their final two wins.
That included last week’s roaring come-from-behind victory that Mack energized, as UCF scored 35 points in the second half to rally from a 17-point deficit and beat Memphis 52-41 in the AAC Title Game.
UCF now readies to play LSU in the Fiesta Bowl on New Year’s Day.
USF and UCF got American Conference 2020 schedules Tuesday
On Tuesday afternoon the American Athletic Conference made official is 2020 football dates for opponents for its conference members. And, that means UCF and USF got to look for the first time at their full conference slates and when they are playing whom.
First for the Knights, they learned that they will open year three of coach Josh Heupel’s conference play on Thursday night September 24th at East Carolina. It is one of three stand-alone weeknight(day) games UCF has on their schedule.
The next one will be Friday night October 16th, as UCF travels to play the Memphis Tigers. That’s a team that the Knights defeated for two Conference Championship Game victories in 2017 and 18.
— American Football (@American_FB) February 18, 2020
UCF will also play a traditional “War on I-4” game with the rival Bulls on the Friday after Thanksgiving November 27th. This will be the fourth straight year of playing on “Black Friday.”
As for the Knights other part of the league schedule, they will have their AAC home opener with Tulsa on Saturday October 3rd and then, finish the slate with two huge home matchups with Temple Saturday November 14th followed by Cincinnati at Spectrum Stadium the following week.
For the Bulls, who welcome first year coach Jeff Scott in 2020, they will only have two standalone appearances in conference play. Those will be a Friday night home game October 23rd with Tulsa and then, the previously mentioned final rivalry game with UCF on Friday November 27th.
The Bulls first conference game of the season will be at Cincinnati on October 3rd, while the home opener is East Carolina the following week at Raymond James Stadium.
USF has a tough road slate beginning at Temple on October 17th and then, after the Friday night home game with Tulsa, playing at Memphis November 7th and at Houston November 14th.
The conference is playing 2020 with only 11 members, as UConn has departed and gone back to the Big East. This will also be the first time that the AAC doesn’t play a two six team division format and will instead take the top two ranked teams in conference play for it’s December Championship Game.
Speedy former UCF RB Killins looks to impress at Shrine Bowl
One-player eager to start showcasing himself Saturday afternoon in the pre-draft process in St Petersburg is former UCF speedster RB, Adrian Killins.
Killins ,who just finished four years of highlight runs and touchdowns for the the Knights will participate in the East-West Shrine Bowl.
— East-West Shrine Bowl (@ShrineBowl) December 2, 2019
Killins is generously listed at 5’9 and 165 lb. and came UCF without much fanfare from Daytona Mainland High School. However, he had been an explosive player on the football gridiron, and he was also a former two time 3A State 200m track champion before coming to Orlando.
Once at UCF in 2016, Killins immediately showed off his explosiveness and moniker of “fastest player in college football” with a 100-yard kickoff return at ECU and an 87 yard touchdown run at “the Big House” in Ann Arbor against Michigan.
His best season was his sophomore year, when he was named First Team All American Athletic Conference RB, as he rushed for 790 yards and 10 touchdowns to lead UCF. He showed versatility and caught another additional 25 passes for 169 yards.
He also set a UCF record for longest play from scrimmage that still stands, in the UCF regular season win over Memphis, as he took a handoff and the looked like a missle racing down the sideline:
Longest run in @UCF_Football history ✔️
Longest run in @American_FB history ✔️
2nd-longest in NCAA this year ✔️
— UCF Football (@UCF_Football) October 1, 2017
Killins helped the Knights experience their greatest season ever at 13 – 0 with not only a thrilling double-overtime conference title game rematch win over the Tigers, but a New Year’s Day upset of SEC Powerhouse Auburn in the Peach Bowl for the perfect season.
His next two years under Josh Heupel and his new coaching staff were not as spectacular. But, he still he would make the occasional explosive run and finished his career with over 1,700 yards rushing and 25 touchdowns.
He did leave a final impression with his 115 yards and 1 TD in the regular season finale with USF.
Now, he knows that with his smaller size, even with blazing speed, he will be challenged to stick on an NFL roster, and another way might be as a kick returner. Killins left UCF with a career 21.8 avg on 47 returns as a Knight.
He will likely need to show that part of his game to help him get a realistic shot at the next level. And, we wait to see if there will be explosive plays from him Saturday.