UCF Knights safety Richie Grant made the all-AAC first team for the third consecutive year and was honored along with eight of his teammates as the all-conference teams were released Tuesday.
Grant is just the second Knight since 2002 to make at least three appearances on an all-conference first team, according to UCF’s record book. Punt returner, kick returner and defensive back Joe Burnett was a first-team honoree four times during his Knights career, from 2005-08. Grant is also the 12th unanimous first-team pick in AAC history and the conference’s fourth player to claim first-team honors three times.
Four other Knights joined Grant on the first team: Wide receivers Marlon Williams and Jaylon Robinson; center Matthew Lee; guard Cole Schneider. Three Knights were selected to the second team: quarterback Dillon Gabriel; running back Otis Anderson; cornerback Aaron Robinson. Guard Lokahi Pauole earned an honorable mention.
I wasn’t on any pre season list and today I made 1st team ...It’s not where you start but where you finish— Marlon Williams (@TheReall__6) December 15, 2020
UCF secondary coach Willie Martinez said Tuesday that “it’s been awesome” to watch Grant work and coach him for three seasons.
“Been doing this for a long time and have been very blessed to be a part of some really great staffs and great players recruited, and Richie is one of my favorites,” Martinez said. “And I say that because of the way — to see his progress in three years. When we first got here in ‘18, he was just a guy that didn’t play that much. To see him start and have the year he had in ‘18, then continue that to last year, and then this year, really, has been his best year.
“His preparation off the field, that’s something that everybody doesn’t see. His attention to detail. Just coming to work every day and having a purpose and leading by setting the example. Not leading anybody, but just setting the example of how he is in meetings and how he takes coaching. Doesn’t take things personal, takes critique really well, has got a great personality. ... The way he handles himself around the players and how he’s been able to coach them on the field, he’s a pro. To see that progress, that process for three years now, really excited for him. We feel like he’s ready for whatever.”
UCF and Tulsa tied for the second-most players on either the first or second team with eight apiece. Cincinnati led the way with 15 selections, including the AAC’s Offensive Player of the Year, quarterback Desmond Ridder. The Bearcats also claim the Coach of the Year, Luke Fickell. Tulsa linebacker Zaven Collins was named Defensive Player of the Year and was the lone other unanimous choice besides Grant.
As far as snubs go, running back Greg McCrae, the Knights’ leader with 681 rushing yards and nine rushing touchdowns, stands out. And he has noticed his omission.
Damn I didn’t make any of the conference teams ??? Not even an honorable mention ???? @American_FB— Greg McCrae (@NikeheadGreg) December 15, 2020
Congrats to all my teammates who made it you guys truly deserve it. Some of the best players in the conference come from here— Greg McCrae (@NikeheadGreg) December 15, 2020
The five running backs included over McCrae were Cincinnati’s Gerrid Doaks, East Carolina’s Rahjai Harris and SMU’s Ulysses Bentley IV on the first team; Tulane’s Stephon Huderson joined Anderson on the second team. No running backs were given an Honorable Mention spot.