For the first time, UCF has won three of Conference USA’s major awards as the league announced on Wednesday that Jeff Godfrey is its Freshman of the Year, Bruce Miller is its Defensive Player of the Year for the second year in a row and George O’Leary is the Coach of the Year for the third time in six years.
Godfrey is the second Knight to receive C-USA Freshman of the Year honors, joining Kevin Smith (2005). Just a true freshman, Godfrey ranks eighth in the nation in passing efficiency at 165.28, trailing only seven elite quarterbacks who have all had teams ranked in the top-10 this year (Cam Newton, Kellen Moore, Ryan Mallett, Scott Tolzien, Andy Dalton, Greg McElroy and Andrew Luck). Godfrey’s completion percentage of 68.4-percent ranks sixth nationally and is not far off of the NCAA freshman record of 69.4-percent set by Kellen Morre of Boise State in 2008. Godfrey, who recorded a 9-2 record as a starter and was 8-1 against C-USA foes, also can use his feet. He has 546 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns on the year. The 10 rushing scores trails only Nebraska’s Taylor Martinez amongst all freshmen signal callers nationally and tops all true freshmen.
Miller joins Adalius Thomas of Southern Miss (1998-99) as the only repeat winners of C-USA Defensive Player of the Year prize. Miller leads all players nationally with his 34 career sacks, a number which matches Florida State’s Peter Boulware (1994-96) for the fourth most ever by an FBS player in the talent-rich state of Florida. A versatile defensive end who can also slide inside and play tackle when UCF goes to a nickel, perhaps Miller’s two biggest plays of the year were not in the offensive backfield. On two occasions this fall he intercepted a pass and returned it for a touchdown, setting a UCF record and tying for the second most in C-USA history for a single season. Miller helped UCF lead C-USA in total, rushing, scoring and passing efficiency defense in 2010, also ranking amongst the national top-20 for much of the season.
O’Leary helped guide the Knights to the C-USA Championship by winning seven out of eight league games. UCF cracked the national top-25 for the first time in school history this season and continues to possess the league’s most dominant defense along with a vastly improved offense and some of the nation’s best special teams unit, including a kickoff return unit that ranks first in the nation. He did this while guiding a UCF program that has also excelled in the classroom. UCF’s 972 APR (Academic Performance Rate) is in the national top-10 for public schools while eight members of the UCF team had all ready received their bachelor’s degrees prior to this season.
All of the team’s 19 seniors are on pace to graduate.
It is the fifth FBS Coach of the Year award for O’Leary who also claimed C-USA’s prize in 2005 and 2007 while winning the ACC’s in 1998 and 2000 while at Georgia Tech. The five career awards ties him for third amongst all active FBS coaches. Leading the pack with six are Dennis Erickson and Steve Spurrier while Frank Beamer and Bill Snyder also have five apiece to match O’Leary. Spurrier is a candidate for the 2010 SEC Coach of the Year honor which the league will announce later today.
O’Leary also ties former Southern Miss mentor Jeff Bower for the most C-USA Coach of the Year honors all-time with his three.