Posted by Adam Jacobi
It's hard to imagine, but in Central Florida's relatively scant 15-year history in FBS (nee I-A) football, the Golden Knights have fielded one of the most productive quarterbacks in NCAA history and a tailback that had one of the two best single seasons for a rusher ever. That quarterback is Daunte Culpepper, who passed for over 11,000 yards and rushed for over 1,000 more all in one game during his four-year career at UCF, and who had his number retired by the school so quickly, Culpepper hadn't even been drafted in that spring's NFL draft yet.
The tailback, meanwhile, is current Detroit Lion Kevin Smith, who just three years ago set college football ablaze with an absurd 2,567 yards rushing and 30 touchdowns in just one season. Only Barry Sanders has ever put together a better year, and his 2,628 yard, 37 touchdown performance (in just 11 games!) in 1998 was so absurd that it shouldn't even count anymore.
Unlike Culpepper, Smith's number hasn't officially been retired; currently, it's being worn by sophomore tailback Brendan Kelly. The jersey, however, is set to be commemorated at Homecoming this weekend for UCF:
Join the UCF football family on Saturday, Oct. 23, to commemorate four special jersey numbers during the Knights’ annual Homecoming contest vs. the Rice Owls, scheduled for 3:30 p.m. at Bright House Networks Stadium. The four 2010 honorees are Daunte Culpepper (1995-98), Kevin Smith (2005-07), Joe Burnett (2005-08) and the late Wayne Densch.
Two of the jerseys, Densch (1986) and Culpepper (1999) have previously been recognized, and will be joined in 2010 by the monumental accomplishments from Smith and Burnett during their respective collegiate careers.
As the school goes on to explain, the ceremony won't remove Smith's and Burnett's numbers from usage (Culpepper's 8 and Densch's 1, on the other hand, are retired completely); that might sound a tad unfair to Smith, but let's remember, the traitor left after his junior season to go to the NFL. Further, the school's commemorating every player who gains first-team All-American and C-USA player of the year, so eventually, they'd run out of a suitable amount of numbers for the entire team to share. Yes, that would take decades, maybe even centuries, and there's really no telling whether Skynet allows humans to play 85-man college football once the robot takeover is complete. But maybe Skynet's got that little bit of benevolence* in it, and that's a contingency UCF needs to prepare for going forward.
*My editors assure me it does not.