Football fans across the globe will be glued to their television sets when the 2012 NFL Playoffs kick off this weekend. And UCF once again is set to have plenty of former Knights in action as they begin their grueling pursuit to hoist the Vince Lombardi Trophy.
Compared to last season, however, UCF players are sprinkled everywhere in the 2012 playoffs. This time a year ago, Josh Sitton, Atari Bigby and Michael Greco were beginning their journey which ultimately concluded in Super Bowl rings with the Green Bay Packers, who knocked out Asante Samuel and the Philadelphia Eagles in an NFC Wild Card matchup.
This year, Sitton is back in the NFL Playoffs for the fourth-straight time as he has participated in the postseason with the Packers every year since being drafted in the fourth round in 2008. Along with earning a ring, Sitton was named the NFL’s Offensive Lineman of the Year award in 2011. The Packers will enjoy a first-round bye and home-field advantage throughout this season’s playoffs, and face the lowest seed remaining Jan. 15 at 4:30 p.m.
Also in the NFC Playoffs, fullback Bruce Miller helped block the way towards San Francisco earning the No. 2 seed and a first-round bye as well. Conference USA’s Defensive Player of the Year in 2009 and 2010, Miller stands as UCF’s all-time sacks leader when he recorded 35.5 as a defensive end from 2007-10. For the 49ers, he played in 15 games with eight starts as a rookie, racking up 11 receptions for 83 yards and a touchdown, and four carries for eight yards. The 49ers’ first game is slated for Jan. 14 at 4:30 p.m.
Joining Detroit for its contest at Chicago Nov. 13, running back Kevin Smith went on to start four games (played in seven games overall) and averaged 4.9 yards per carry. He rushed for 356 yards on 72 carries with four touchdowns, and caught 22 passes for 179 yards and three touchdowns. A 2007 All-American for the Black and Gold, Smith started the final two regular-season games for the Lions, who are preparing for the NFL Playoffs for the first time in 12 years, and they will travel to New Orleans to face the Saints Saturday, Jan. 7, at 8 p.m.
Over in the AFC, Matt Prater’s leg continued to build a reputation in Denver as he booted numerous field goals in the fourth quarter or overtime en route to the Broncos winning the division title. He was 19-for-25 during the regular season and a perfect 30-for-30 in extra points. Prater and the Broncos will host Pittsburgh Sunday, Jan. 8, at 4:30 p.m.
UCF’s fourth player who helped guide his team to a division crown, rookie offensive lineman Jah Reid participated in all 16 games for Baltimore, who selected him in the third round of the 2011 NFL Draft. Reid was a two-time All-C-USA First Team member for the Knights and was on the C-USA All-Freshman Team in 2007. The Ravens are the No. 2 seed in the AFC and will host a divisional playoff game Jan. 15 at 1 p.m.
At least one former Knight has reached either the AFC or NFC Championship Game in eight of the past 10 seasons, while UCF has had a representative in eight different Super Bowls.