As we are down to our Top 20 list of Top 100 UCF Knights male athletes of all-time. Check out our previous articles in this list here:
- Top 100 UCF Knights Male Athletes of All-Time: #100-91
- Top 100 UCF Knights Male Athletes of All-Time: #90-81
- Top 100 UCF Knights Male Athletes of All-Time: #80-71
- Top 100 UCF Knights Male Athletes of All-Time #70-61
- Top 100 UCF Knights Male Athletes of All-Time #60-51
- Top 100 UCF Knights Male Athletes of All-Time #50-41
- Top 100 UCF Knights Male Athletes of All-Time #40-31
- Top 100 UCF Knights Male Athletes of All-Time #30-21
#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 A-Sun Championship and NCAA Tournament squad in 2004, when UCF made it to the regional final in Tallahassee. He was a Johnny Bench semi-finalist in 2005 and also made 2nd Team All-ASun.
Butera was a fifth-round draft pick of the New York Mets in 2005, and was traded to the Minnesota Twins in 2007 for Luis Castillo. I spoke with Butera back when he was with the Twins prior their game with the Rays on August 4, 2010 at Tropicana Field. Butera would hit his second career MLB home run that night:
Butera has played nine seasons in Major League Baseball, with Minnesota Twins (2010-2013), Los Angeles Dodgers (2013-2014), Los Angeles Angels (2015), Kansas City Royals (2015-2018) and currently the Colorado Rockies (2019-present). 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 maors, having pitched in relief in games in 2012, 2014, 2016, and 2018. He was inducted into UCF Athletics Hall of Fame in 2019.
#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. 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.
A special teams standout, Burnett holds the UCF program record with 16 career interceptions. He also set UCF records for most punt returns (96) and tied the record for most punt return touchdowns with 3. He averaged 13.6 avg. yards per punt return and averaged 28.7 avg yards per kick return, along with two touchdowns.
Defensively, Burnett had 221 career tackles, including 12 TFLs. He had 16 career interceptions and 35 pass break-ups.
Burnett 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 Alloutes (2018).
#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 season, he set an NCAA record for stolen bases with 104 and hits with 142. He holds the UCF career record with a .389 career batting average and 144 stolen bases.
Barker was selected in the 18th round of 1985 MLB Draft by the Montreal Expos, and played in the minors until 1988. He was inducted into 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 is second all-time at UCF in career wins with five, behind only Greg Eason’s seven. Damron also won the 1992 Sun Belt Conference individual championship.
Damron also still holds a share of UCF record for most tournament wins in a season with three during the ‘92-’93 season, which was tied by Greg Eason 20 years later.
Damron 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 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. During his career on the PGA Tour, Damron had 19 top-ten finishes, including three 3rd 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 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 Atlantic Sun 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 Atlantic Sun Player of the Year, as well as a four-time All-South Region Team, All-Atlantic Sun First Team and Atlantic Sun All-Tournament Team member from 1996-1999. He was inducted into 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 4th all-time all at UCF, along with 108 points, which also is 4th. Jennings led the Knights to two AAC regular season championships and two NCAA Tournament appearances in 2018 and 2019.
CAL JENNINGS— NCAA Soccer (@NCAASoccer) November 25, 2019
A golden moment for No. 9 UCF!!#NCAASoccer | @UCF_MSoccer pic.twitter.com/xFAyRdWTMM
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 (81-83), and Winston DuBose (74-76). Jennings is also the only Knight to ever be a multiple-time All-American in the Division I era.
He was a 1st round draft pick in 2020 MLS Draft by FC Dallas, and was just recently signed by Memphis 901 of the USL.
#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, coaching for four different UCF head coaches. 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.
#14 - 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 RBI (10th all-time), 370 total bases (9th all-time), and a career .552 slugging percentage. He was an All-American in his final season in 1992, hitting .345 with 14 home runs, which at the time tied the UCF single-season record, and 7 triples, which is 7th 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 to the playoffs in 2019. Mottola was inducted into UCF Athletics Hall of Fame in 2008.
T-#13 - 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 also ranks sixth all-time in three-pointers made (180) and sixth in assists (324).
Taylor led UCF in scoring in 48 of his 104 career games. He was the first Knight in the D-I era to average 15+ points in three straight seasons, and made 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 round of 32 in NCAA Tournament. He also was part of the Knights’ run to the Final Four of the NIT in 2017.
Currently, he’s in the NBA G-League in the Clippers’ organization.
T-#13 - 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 Senagal 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 an NCAA Division I record.
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 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, where he has been a fan favorite, starting with his debut in the NBA Summer League in Las Vegas last July, where he got the loudest ovations every time he played. That would carry over into the regular season.
Congrats to the big fella on All-Defensive honors in the @nbagleague! @tackofall99 still terrorizing offensive players‼️#BuiltByUCF ⚔️ pic.twitter.com/7G0jNPXb5x— UCF Men’s Hoops (@UCF_MBB) June 26, 2020
Fall has been bouncing back and forth with the Celtics and their NBA G-League team, the Maine Red Claws. I spoke to Fall about that when he was in Orlando with the Celtics back in late January at Amway Center on Episode #199 of Black and Gold Banneret Podcast (check the one-hour mark below).
Regardless of what happens moving forward, as I wrote the day after Tacko’s and B.J. senior night. Fall and Taylor have secured their legacies in UCF Athletics history.
#12 - Josh Sitton (Football)
Josh Sitton played in 50 games with 43 starts during his career at UCF. He was named first-team All-Conference USA 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 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 6. 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 only UCF Knight to win a conference championship, start in a bowl game, start in a Super Bowl, and play in a Pro Bowl.
After 11 seasons in the NFL, Sitton announced his retirement on April 4, 2019. He officially retired with the Packers on December 4, 2019.
T-#11 - Jerry Prather (Basketball)
Prather played for Torchy Clark’s UCF (then FTU) Knights from 1974-78, ranking fourth all-time in scoring (1,707) 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 the season as Clark 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. Prather ranks 9th all-time in points per game (16.6), 2nd in career field goals (757), 4th 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), points in a season (806), and points in a career (2,886), despite playing in an era before the three-point line.
Clark led the nation in scoring during the 1978-79 season with an average of 31.6 points per game. He was a three-time first-team All-American during his career and led UCF to the Division II playoffs three times. 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.