A program-record five UCF football student-athletes were selected in the 2021 NFL Draft over the weekend, topping the previous school record of four, set both in 2003 and again in 2018.
Safety Richie Grant ’20 went 40th overall to the Atlanta Falcons in the second round; Aaron Robinson ’20 was picked 71st overall by the New York Giants in the third round; Jacob Harris ’19 went 141st to the Los Angeles Rams in the fourth round; Tay Gowan ’20 was taken 223rd overall by the Arizona Cardinals in the sixth round; and Tre Nixon ’19 went 242nd overall to the New England Patriots in the seventh round.
UCF had more student-athletes drafted in 2021 than 100% of American Athletic Conference teams, 80% of Big 12 teams, 79% of Big Ten teams, 79% of ACC teams, 75% of Pac-12 teams and 57% of SEC teams.
- 47 Players Drafted all-time since 1987
- At least 1 player drafted in 15 of last 16 drafts
- 26 players drafted since 2008
- 33 players drafted since 2003
- 4 players drafted in the first round
- 4 players drafted in the second round
- 8 players drafted in the first two rounds, 5 since 2014
- 12 players drafted in the third round
- 20 players drafted in the first three rounds, 9 since 2014, 12 since 2010
- 7 Top 100 picks since 2017
- 21 Top 100 picks all-time since 1987
- 7 players drafted in the fourth round
- 27 players drafted in the first four rounds
- 13 defensive backs have been drafted, 8 since 2012
- 12 wide receivers have been drafted, 5 since 2015
Grant leaves UCF as one of the most highly decorated Knights, earning first-team all-conference honors from the American Athletic Conference three consecutive years, receiving unanimous distinction as a senior in 2020. A starter at safety in 33 games in three seasons, Grant garnered honorable mention All-America accolades from Phil Steele and was a finalist for the Jim Thorpe Award in 2020. Grant totaled 291 tackles in his career, ranking fourth in UCF history with seven forced fumbles and fifth with 10 career interceptions. His six interceptions in 2018 ranked third in the nation and had over 100 tackles during his sophomore season.
Robinson was extremely successful in the nickel position his final two seasons at UCF, earning second-team all-conference honors from The American in both 2019 and 2020. He was also a first-team all-conference honoree in 2019 according to Pro Football Focus, as well as a PFF Honorable Mention All-American. The Deerfield Beach, Florida, native totaled 104 tackles in just 30 games, starting 19 times as a defensive back for the Knights. Robinson had 6.5 tackles for loss, three interceptions, and 17 pass breakups in his final two seasons at UCF. Robinson was also a Nagurski Award and Jim Thorpe Award watch list honoree in his final season of college football.
Harris, a former high school soccer player and walk-on at both Western Kentucky and UCF, blossomed into a top-level receiver for the Knights by his senior season in 2020. He finished the year with 30 catches for 539 yards and eight touchdowns. A native of Palm Harbor, Florida, Harris began his tenure at UCF as a scout team player in 2017, before seeing his first on-field action on special teams in 2018. He was awarded a scholarship midway through that 2018 campaign. Harris became a full-time receiver for the Knights in 2019, playing in all 13 games, catching 19 passes for 448 yards, and hauling in one touchdown. Six of his catches that season were 40 yards or longer and he averaged 23.6 yards per catch.
He earned his bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary studies with a minor in human communication.
Gowan made an impact on NFL scouts in just one year of FBS football, starring for UCF during the 2019 season. He started nine games and appeared in 12 as a junior after transferring in from Butler Community College. As a junior, Gowan made 31 tackles, had two interceptions, recorded one tackle for loss, recovered one fumble and broke up eight passes. He earned second-team all-conference honors from Pro Football Focus following the season.
He earned his bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary studies with a minor in criminal justice.
Nixon started in his first 27 games as a Knight before going down with an injury in the first game of the 2020 season. He earned honorable mention all-conference honors in The American in 2019 after hauling in 49 catches for 830 yards and seven touchdowns. The Viera, Florida, native caught four passes for 94 yards and two touchdowns in UCF’s win at Georgia Tech in the 2020 opener, before being sidelined for six games. Nixon came back and finished the year with 19 catches for 260 yards in just four games. Nixon finished with 108 catches in his career at UCF, accumulating 1,652 receiving yards and 13 touchdown receptions in less than three seasons in Orlando.
He earned his bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary studies with a minor in sport business management.
Additionally, UCF wide receiver Marlon Williams signed a free agent contract with the Houston Texans following the end of the 2021 NFL Draft. Williams was one of the best receivers in the nation in 2020, catching 71 passes for 1,09 yards and 10 touchdowns in just eight games played. His 8.9 receptions per game ranked third in the nation, while his 129.9 receiving yards per game ranked fifth and his 10 touchdown receptions were seventh in the nation. He earned first-team all-conference honors from The American.