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Future UCF Football Hall-of-Famers: Darin Hinshaw

Former UCF QB turned coach has his name all over Knights’ record books

Darin Hinshaw UCF
Darin Hinshaw
Photo Courtesy UCF Athletics

Our Future UCF Knights Hall of Famers series continues with an unsung hero from the pre-Division I-A era, Darin Hinshaw.

Darin Hinshaw

1991-1994

Hinshaw is one of the most underappreciated Knights of all time. Before Milton, Bortles, Schneider and even Culpepper, Hinshaw was the Knights’ original mad bomber.

Originally from Punta Gorda, Hinshaw was recruited to go to Florida initially by then-head coach Galen Hall. But when Hall was let go in favor of Steve Spurrier, and Spurrier decided to recruit Terry Dean, Hinshaw looked to Gene McDowell and UCF.

Hinshaw made an immediate impact, taking over the starting job as a freshman and never relinquishing the job. His best career game was in the opener of his junior year of 1993, when he threw for a career-best (and school record at the time) 437 yards in a 35-30 win over Valdosta State. He also threw six touchdowns in a game later that same year, in a 55-19 win over Liberty. That same year, he led the Knights to a 9-3 record and the FCS Playoffs.

His career numbers and where they rank at UCF all-time at the time of this story’s publication:

  • 614 completions (3rd)
  • 1,112 attempts (3rd)
  • Exactly 9,000 yards (3rd)
  • 82 TDs (tied for 2nd)
  • 52 INTs (1st - Can’t win ‘em all)
  • 138.18 rating (7th)

He finished as the Knights all-time leading passer with exactly 9,000 yards, which is still third-best at UCF behind Daunte Culpepper and Ryan Schneider, and for the moment, just ahead of McKenzie Milton. Hinshaw also tallied 28 career victories as QB, which was best ever at UCF at the time.

But perhaps most impressive given recent developments, Hinshaw still leads UCF all-time in yards per completion at 14.7.

Darin Hinshaw UCF Knights
Darin Hinshaw played at UCF from 1991-1994
Photo Courtesy: UCF Athletics

In an interesting twist, Hinshaw’s UCF athletic career was not confined to football. He apparently played in five games for UCF Basketball as a junior in Kirk Speraw’s first year as the Knights’ head coach in 1993-94, scoring all of four points on 1/4 from the field and 2/2 at the line. The Knights won the TAAC Championship that year, and Hinshaw saw one minute of action in the 16-seeded Knights’ first-ever NCAA Division I Tournament game, a 98-67 loss to Glenn “Big Dog” Robinson and the top-seeded Purdue Boilermakers.

After UCF, Hinshaw embarked on a pro football career. After spending all of four days as a Cleveland Brown in 1995, he tried to latch on in the CFL with one of the league’s American teams before getting the call from the Orlando Predators, where he would play for two years. After one final Arena Football season in Nashville in 1997, Hinshaw left his playing days behind and tried his hand at coaching.

Mike Kruczek hired Hinshaw as a grad assistant in 1999 and then promoted him to QB coach in 2000, where he helped develop Ryan Schneider into one of UCF’s greatest ever QBs. From there he moved on to Middle Tennessee State, becoming their offensive coordinator from 2003-2005, and then Georgia Southern as OC and QB Coach in 2006 and Memphis as WR Coach from 2007-2009.

Hinshaw caught his big coaching break with the Tennessee Volunteers as QB Coach from 2010-11, working with Matt Simms and Tyler Bray, and then as WR coach for a year. He then moved to the Cincinnati Bearcats as their Passing Game Coordinator from 2013-15, occasionally coaching against his alma mater. All the while, Hinshaw often coached his offenses to team record-setting numbers.

Here’s a feature UC did on him:

Hinshaw then moved on to Kentucky as co-offensive coordinator and QB coach under Mark Stoops, where he has helped the Wildcats to bowl games in all three seasons he’s been there so far. In 2018, Kentucky went 10-3 with a #12 final ranking in the AP Poll despite a very young QB stable consisting of two sophomores (including starter Terry Wilson) and three freshmen.

Hinshaw’s coaching career may indeed take him to a head job at some point in the future (Hell, I even threw his name into the UCF Speculatron as far back as 2015, when UCF eventually nabbed Scott Frost). If and when it does, we shouldn’t be surprised. His UCF Hall of Fame-worthy career should have given us an early indication.