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2022 Banneret Awards: Comeback Athlete of the Year

See the nominees for Comeback Athlete of the Year and cast your vote for who you think should win

Trillion Coles
Derek Warden

It’s time for the 2022 Black & Gold Banneret Awards!

Each year we pass out a bunch of awards honoring the best athletes, coaches, teams, and moments of the previous UCF Knights athletic year. Our staff votes, and so do you, the fans.

Here’s how it works: We, the staff, put together our nominees for each award. You can listen to our nominations podcast episode here. Over the next couple of weeks, we will open fan voting for each award. Each staff member gets one vote, and the winner of the fan vote will get one vote. If there is a tie, the fan vote will be the tiebreaker. We will announce the winners in two weeks.

Our 2022 Black & Gold Banneret Awards continue with Comeback Player of the Year. Here are your nominees:

Diamond Battles

Guard — Women’s Basketball

A strong argument can be that the worst time for any NCAA basketball player to suffer a severe injury is during the March Madness tournament. Not only does a team miss your contribution on the sport’s biggest stage, but there’s also a chance that your offseason workout is spent rehabbing instead of crafting your game. Multiply that by being the heart and soul of your squad during the season and you see the huge mountain that Diamond Battles had to climb leading into her final season as a Knight.

But Battles was still able to shine on the strength of her philosophy of saying “locked-in”. While going from being injured in “The Dance” the previous year to becoming the American Player and Defensive Player of the Year is impressive in itself, but what’s most remarkable is how she appeared to be back to form from the opening tip of the opening contest for the season and never looked back.

Kennedy Searcy

3B/DP — Softball

Kennedy Searcy came back from a serious injurt to her ACL in April 2021 at ECU by having a All-AAC season hitting .311 with 6 homers while driving in 31 runs while playing strong defense at new position in third base.

Alex Freeland

Shortstop — Baseball

Noah Goldberg

On April 15, Alex Freeland exited the UCF Baseball team’s second game against East Carolina with what he later revealed was a broken hamate bone that he had been playing with for “three to four weeks” at that point. Freeland would sit out for the next month to have surgery for the injury before returning for the Knights’ final home series of the season against Cincinnati.

Lovelady said after Freeland’s return that he felt better going into the conference tournament knowing that the shortstop got on the field again. Freeland went on to start every game for the Knights in the American Athletic Conference Tournament.

Freeland got on base in every single game in Clearwater, including a two-home run performance in the team’s final game of the season against Houston. While it ended in a 9-6 loss, he kept the Knights in the game as much as one batter could.

However, due to Freeland’s power at the plate against the Cougars, he irritated his wrist, where the hamate bone is located. This became apparent during his last at-bat of the game as he grimaced in pain at the plate.

Throughout the season, Freeland showcased his determination to play through the pain. Even when it became too much, forcing him to sit out for a month to recover, he returned soon after surgery and came back to contribute when his team needed it most.

Trillion Coles

Running Back — Football

NCAA Football: Bethune Cookman at Central Florida Mike Watters-USA TODAY Sports

Trillion Coles is a classic Rudy-esque underdog story. Coles, an undersized running back from nearby Bishop Moore, walked on in 2018. He saw the field as a redshirt freshman in 2019, carrying the ball 33 times for 168 yards in seven games. On July 27, 2020, he announced that he tore his Achilles tendon and would miss the season. He spent the season and then some recovering and rehabilitating his ankle.

Shortly before the 2021 season opener, on August 27th, his hard work paid off as head coach Gus Malzahn put him and two other players on scholarship. Coles had an opportunity to play extended time in a blowout win against Bethune-Cookman. In the third quarter, Coles ran to the left in the flat and was wide open. He made his first catch as a Knight and scampered 15 yards for his first career touchdown. Unfortunately, Coles was so unknown, that the announcers mistakenly called him Tre’Mon Morris-Brash, who also wears 33, but plays on defense.

Coles later scored the last points in the game with a four-yard rushing touchdown, his only other touchdown of the season. Coles would finish with 78 yards on 11 rushing carries along with the one 15-yard reception. He would play sparingly in seven other games, including one start against Navy.


Who is the 2022 UCF Comeback Athlete of the Year?

This poll is closed

  • 3%
    Diamond Battles
    (137 votes)
  • 61%
    Kennedy Searcy
    (2502 votes)
  • 2%
    Alex Freeland
    (120 votes)
  • 32%
    Trillion Coles
    (1309 votes)
4068 votes total Vote Now