A lot has changed since the world emerged from the COVID-19 lockdowns, which was the last time we ranked the Top 100 Male Athletes in UCF history.
In just three years, many legends cemented their status in his final few seasons, while others were born, and for a few athletes, their stories have been rediscovered.
With UCF getting ready for its first year as a member of the Big 12 (and Men’s Soccer for its first season in the Sun Belt), it’s once again time to count down the Top 100 Male UCF Knights athletes of all time.
Criteria used to create this list include:
- A player’s impact on their respective sport and on the school
- What accomplishments have they had after their UCF career
- What accolades have they received
We made sure to include at least one athlete from every current UCF sport.
Now let’s continue the countdown with #20-11:
#20 - Drew Butera (Baseball)
Drew Butera played at UCF from 2003-2005 and drove in 103 runs while hitting .304 in his Knights career. He is still the all-time leader at UCF in throwing out baserunners with 63.
Drew was part of the Knights’ ASUN Championship and NCAA Tournament squad in 2004 when UCF made it to the regional final in Tallahassee, where he was selected to the All-Regional Team. He was a Johnny Bench semi-finalist in 2005 and also made 2nd Team All-ASUN. He ranks fifth in program history in career sacrifice hits (22).
Butera played eleven seasons in Major League Baseball, with the Minnesota Twins (2010-2013), Los Angeles Dodgers (2013-2014), Los Angeles Angels (2015, 2021), Kansas City Royals (2015-2018) and the Colorado Rockies (2019-2020). He won a World Series with the Kansas City Royals in 2015, catching the final strike that secured the title:
Butera is one of only five players in MLB history to catch a no-hitter in both the American League (Francisco Liriano with the Twins on 5/3/2011) and the National League (Josh Beckett with the Dodgers on 5/25/2014). Butera has also made six appearances as a pitcher in the majors, having pitched in relief in games in 2012, 2014, 2016, 2018 and 2020.
He was inducted into the UCF Athletics Hall of Fame in 2019. Butera’s playing days are now behind him, as he retired in April 2022, but he is now a bullpen coach for the Angels.
#19 - Joe Burnett (Football)
Smokin’ Joe Burnett was a record-setting cornerback and return specialist for the Knights who was named first-team All-American as a senior in 2008 and First-Team All-CUSA all four years of his career. He helped UCF to its first two bowl berths (2005 Hawai’i Bowl, 2007 Liberty Bowl) and the school’s first-ever conference championship in 2007.
Burnett holds the UCF program records for career interceptions (16), interception return yardage (262), career punt returns (96) and career punt return yardage (1,304). He is also tied for the school record for most career punt-return touchdowns with three.
He also ranks third in program history in career passes broken up (35), tied for third in kick return touchdowns (2), second in career average kick-return yards (28.7) and tied for second in career average yards punt-return yards (13.6).
Burnett also had 221 career tackles, including 12 TFLs.
He was drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers with the 32nd pick of the fifth round (168th overall) of the 2009 NFL Draft. He played three seasons in the NFL with the Steelers (2009-2010), New York Giants and Jacksonville Jaguars (2011). He would then move on to a solid career from 2011-2018 in the CFL with Edmonton Eskimos (2011-2014), Calgary Stampeders (2015-2017), and Montreal Alouettes (2018).
He was inducted into the UCF Athletics Hall of Fame in 2022.
#18 - Tim Barker (Baseball)
Despite playing only two seasons at UCF (1984 and 1985), Barker is the only UCF Baseball player to have his jersey retired (#18). In 1985, Barker was named All-American and a finalist for the Golden Spikes Award, which is college baseball’s version of the Heisman Trophy.
During that 1985 season, he set an NCAA record for stolen bases (104) and hits (142) and he also set UCF single-season records in run scored (92), games (85), at-bats (324) and total bases (190). He also holds the UCF career record with a .389 career batting average and 144 stolen bases.
Barker was selected in the 12th round of the 1985 MLB Draft by the Montreal Expos and played in the minors until 1988. He was inducted into the UCF Athletics Hall of Fame in 1999.
#17 - Robert Damron (Golf)
Robert Damron played at UCF from 1991-94 before leaving to turn professional after his junior season. He was a three-time honorable mention All-American (1992-1994).
Damron helped the Knights make two NCAA Regional appearances (‘92 and ‘94) which included a trip to the NCAA Championship in 1992. He also competed at the NCAA Regional as an individual in 1993. He finished in second all-time at UCF in career wins with five, behind only Greg Eason’s seven, and holds the ninth-lowest career scoring average in program history (72.86). One of his wins was at the 1992 Sun Belt Conference Championship, capturing the individual title.
Damron also still holds a share of the UCF record for most tournament wins in a season with three during the 1992-93 season, which was tied by Greg Eason 20 years later.
He was also the first UCF player to make it full-time to the PGA Tour, and the first to win a tournament there, when he beat Scott Verplank in a playoff at the 2001 Byron Nelson Classic. Damron won two professional golf tournaments during his career, as he also won the 2008 Athens Regional Foundation Classic in a playoff on the Nationwide (now Korn Ferry) Tour.
Damron’s best finish in a major was a tie for 20th at the 2003 U.S. Open. He also finished in a tie for third in the 2000 Players Championship. During his career on the PGA Tour, Damron had 19 top-ten finishes, including three third-place finishes and two second-place finishes to go along with his tour win.
Damron is currently part of the golf media, working for The Golf Channel and other outlets. He was inducted into the UCF Athletics Hall of Fame in 2002.
T-#16 - Heikki Ritvanen (Soccer)
Ritvanen finished his career (1996-99) with the third most goals in NCAA history with 88 and is 10th in NCAA history for most career points with 188. He is the first UCF men’s soccer player to earn All-America at the Division I level when he did it in 1997.
Ritvanen set the UCF and ASUN record for most goals and most points in a career in just 69 games played. He scored a school-record five goals in a game three times. He holds the top three single-season UCF marks for most goals with 24 (1996 and 1998) and 23 (1997). Ritvanen also holds the school record for scoring a goal in 11 straight games (September 26-November 4, 1999), which is tied for 6th best in NCAA history.
Ritvanen was the 1999 ASUN Player of the Year, as well as a four-time All-South Region Team selection, All-ASUN First Team and ASUN All-Tournament Team member from 1996-1999. He was inducted into the UCF Athletics Hall of Fame in 2004. He currently works as a computer engineer in Texas.
T-#16 - Cal Jennings (Soccer)
Cal Jennings (2016-2019) was a two-time All-American and two-time AAC Offensive Player of the Year, scoring 46 goals in his career, which ranks fourth all-time at UCF, along with 108 points, which also is fourth. Jennings led the Knights to two AAC regular season championships and two NCAA Tournament appearances in 2018 and 2019.
Jennings scored one of the most memorable and historic goals in program history on November 24th, 2019. in his final home match, with a golden goal in overtime in the Round of 32 of the NCAA Tournament vs, Missouri State, to advance the Knights to the program’s first-ever Sweet 16 appearance. It was Jennings’ 17th career game-winning goal, which is the most all-time at UCF.
Jennings is one of three UCF players all-time to be an All-American two times or more, joining Rick Bratincevic (1981-1983), and Winston DuBose (1974-1976). Jennings is also the only Knight to ever be a multiple-time All-American in the Division I era.
He was a first-round draft pick in the 2020 MLS Draft by FC Dallas, though he would not earn a first-team contract with the club. After spending the 2020 season with the USL’s Memphis 901, he would sign with Los Angeles FC for the 2021-2022 seasons, though much of his time with the club was spent on loan to the USL’s Las Vegas Lights.
As of this ranking, Jennings is back in Florida playing for the USL’s Tampa Bay Rowdies.
#15 - Sean Beckton (Football)
A lifer at UCF, Sean Beckton was a standout wide receiver for UCF from 1987-1990. He led UCF to the NCAA Division II semifinals in 1987 and the semifinals of the I-AA playoffs in 1990.
Beckton finished his UCF career with 196 receptions (3rd all-time) and 2,493 yards receiving (5th all-time). Beckton once scored four touchdowns in four different ways in one game in 1990 - catching, throwing, running, and returning a punt - on November 17, 1990, vs. Texas Southern. He still holds the school record with at least one reception in 42 straight games. He played briefly in the NFL with the Chicago Bears and Kansas City Chiefs.
Beckton would spend the 1992 season as a graduate assistant coach for the Knights on Gene McDowell’s staff, and would later get a full-time position under Mike Kruzcek. He also worked under George O’Leary and Scott Frost, meaning he has coached on four different UCF head coaching staffs. Beckton mentored some of the best wideouts in program history, including Siaha Burley, Doug Gabriel, Jimmy Fryzel, Brandon Marshall, Mike Sims-Walker, Breshad Perriman, and Trequan Smith. Gabriel, Marshall, Sims-Walker, Perriman and Smith all played in the National Football League.
Beckton was inducted into the UCF Athletics Hall of Fame in 2000.
T-#14 - B.J. Taylor - Basketball
Boone High grad B.J. Taylor ranks seventh all-time at UCF with 1,618 career points, the fourth-most in UCF’s D-I history. He is also tied for the school record in career free throws with Bo Clark (456).
He ranks tied for sixth all-time in three-pointers made (180) and sixth in career assists (324).
Taylor led UCF in scoring in 48 of his 104 career games and was the first Knight in the D-I era to average 15+ points in three straight seasons. He made Second-Team All-AAC in 2017 and first-team All-AAC in 2019, the 8th Knight to make 1st Team All-Conference in program history overall.
Taylor is one of only five UCF players all-time to be NABC All-District (Keith Clanton, Isaiah Sykes, Keith Clanton, Jermaine Taylor) when Taylor was selected to the first team in 2019.
Taylor led UCF to its first-ever NCAA Tournament win in 2019 over VCU, and into the round of 32 in the NCAA Tournament. He was also part of the Knights’ run to the Final Four of the NIT in 2017.
Taylor played a season in Germany before getting selected by the Cleveland Charge with the 16th overall pick in the 2021 NBA G-League Draft. He is the fourth former Knight to be selected in the draft and the highest selected. After brief stints with the Charge and the G-League’s Salt Lake City Stars, he retired as a basketball player and is now a member of the media. Today, Taylor is a color analyst for ESPN and CBS Sports and a contributor for 96.9 The Game.
T-#14 - Tacko Fall (Basketball)
The incomparable Tacko Fall left a legacy at UCF as the greatest big man in program history. He came to UCF from Liberty Christian Prep in Tavares after coming to the U.S.A. from Senegal at the age of 16.
Fall is the all-time leader at UCF in career blocks with 280 and in career field goal percentage at 74.0%, which is also second in NCAA Division I history.
Fall also ranks third all-time in career rebounds with 887, and finished with 1,160 points, ranking 18th on UCF’s all-time list.
He won AAC Defensive Player of the Year in 2017, leading the Knights to the Final Four of the NIT. Fall also had a memorable run in the 2019 NCAA Tournament, dominating VCU in the Knights’ first NCAA Tournament win in program history, and had a legendary clash with Duke’s Zion Williamson.
Fall signed with the Boston Celtics as a free agent in the summer of 2019, where he was a fan favorite, starting with his debut in the NBA Summer League in Las Vegas where he got the loudest ovations every time he played. That would carry over into the regular season with the Boston Celtics.
Fall bounced back and forth with the Celtics and their NBA G-League team, the Maine Red Claws before signing with the Cleveland Cavaliers and bouncing back and forth with them and their NBA G-League team, the Cleveland Charge for the 2021-22 season. He went overseas for the 2022-23 season, playing for the Xinjiang Flying Tigers of the Chinese Basketball Association. However, as of this ranking, he is back stateside playing for the Milwaukee Bucks in the 2023 NBA Summer League in Las Vegas.
#13 - Chad Mottola (Baseball)
In three seasons at UCF (1990-1992), Mottola batted .331 in 177 games, scored 145 runs, and collected 222 hits, 39 doubles, and 20 triples (which is tied for tops all-time in program history), 23 home runs, 148 RBIs, 370 total bases (10th all-time), and a career .552 slugging percentage. He was an All-American in his final season in 1992, hitting .329 with 14 home runs, which at the time tied the UCF single-season record, and 7 triples, which is tied for the eighth most.
Mottola was UCF’s first Major League Baseball first-round draft pick in program history when he was selected fifth overall in 1992 by the Cincinnati Reds, one pick ahead of the New York Yankees’ Derek Jeter. Mottola is the second-highest UCF draft pick in any sport behind only Blake Bortles in the 2013 NFL Draft. He played professional baseball for 16 seasons from 1992-2007, spending parts of five seasons in the Majors with the Reds (1996), Blue Jays (2000, 2006), Marlins (2001) and Orioles (2004).
Mottola retired from playing in 2007 and went into coaching in the minors. He was a hitting coach with the Blue Jays in 2013. Currently, Mottola is the hitting coach for the Tampa Bay Rays (2016-present), helping them make the World Series in 2020. Mottola was inducted into the UCF Athletics Hall of Fame in 2008.
#12 - Josh Sitton (Football)
Josh Sitton played in 50 games with 43 starts during his career at UCF. He was named first-team All-CUSA in 2007, helping the Knights win the program’s first conference championship. He started at both guard spots and at right tackle during his career and was part of two UCF bowl teams, in 2005 and 2007.
Sitton was drafted by the Green Bay Packers in the fourth round of the 2008 NFL Draft. He has made four Pro Bowls (2012-2014, 2016) which is tied with Asante Samuel for second-most by a UCF Knight, behind only Brandon Marshall’s six.
Sitton won Super Bowl XLV with the Packers and also played two seasons with the Chicago Bears and one season with the Miami Dolphins. He made NFL All-Pro First Team in 2014, and Second Team twice in 2013 and 2015 at the guard position. Sitton is the only UCF Knight to win a conference championship, start in a bowl game, start in a Super Bowl, and play in a Pro Bowl.
.@jsitton71 started 112 of 121 regular-season games & all 13 postseason contests in which he appeared.— Green Bay Packers (@packers) November 1, 2022
He was named to the Pro Bowl three times (2012, ’14-15) & earned second-team AP All-Pro honors three times (2013-15).
Congrats, Josh! : https://t.co/rj3FLvzCzk#GoPackGo pic.twitter.com/UgA5DDYlh0
After 11 seasons in the NFL, Sitton announced his retirement on April 4, 2019. He officially retired with the Packers on December 4, 2019. He was inducted into the UCF Athletics Hall of Fame in 2021.
T-#11 - Jerry Prather (Basketball)
Prather played for Torchy Clark’s UCF (then FTU) Knights from 1974-78, ranking fourth all-time in scoring (1,778) and rebounds (849). He earned NCAA Division II All-America honors as a senior in 1978, leading UCF to the Division II Final Four. What made that run all the more impressive was that UCF did not have Bo Clark for that season as he was out with an injury.
Prather also helped UCF to three straight Sunshine State Conference championships (1976-78). A one-man defensive force, he holds the school record for most steals in a game with 11 back on December 17, 1977, as well as the single-season record for steals with 110 in 1977-1978, and career steals with 290.
He ranks ninth all-time in points per game (16.6), second in career field goals (757), fourth in FG% (58.4) and fifth in rebounds per game (8.2).
He was inducted into the UCF Athletics Hall of Fame in 1999.
T-#11 - Bo Clark (Basketball)
Bo Clark broke nearly every UCF scoring record during his career from 1975-80.
He holds UCF’s records for points in a game (70) and points in a career (2,886), despite playing in an era before the three-point line. He also holds school records in career field goals (1,215) and in scoring average (27.8). He co-holds the career free throws record with B.J. Taylor (456).
His school record points in a season (806) stood for decades before Jermaine Taylor broke it in 2008-09.
Clark led the nation in scoring during the 1978-79 season with an average of 31.6 points per game (Single-season school record). He was a three-time first-team Division ll All-American during his career and led UCF to the NCAA Division ll Tournament three times.
Clark also ranks eighth in program history in career assists (302) and 10th in career steals (133).
He had his number (#23) retired after his career at UCF was done, alongside his father and coach, Torchy, and was inducted into the UCF Athletics Hall of Fame in 1998.