Seven Former Knights Preparing for NFL Playoffs
UCF boasted 15 players on NFL rosters in 2012, and almost half of them have helped guide their teams to spots in the NFL Playoffs. That includes six former Knights who picked up division titles this season.
Wide receiver Kamar Aiken has floated between the 53-man roster and the practice squad for New England. The Patriots went 12-4 and earned a first-round bye in the playoffs. They will be in action again Jan. 13 at 4:30 p.m.
In his second season in the NFL, Bruce Miller appeared in all 16 games with the San Francisco 49ers, including 13 starts at fullback. The two-time Conference USA Defensive Player of the Year had 18 yards rushing as well as 12 catches for 84 yards, as his 11-4-1 49ers grabbed a first-round bye and will host a divisional playoff game Jan. 12 at 8 p.m.
In the kicking game, Matt Prater had another impressive season with the 13-3 Denver Broncos. Connecting on at least 80 percent of his field goals for the third time since 2007, he went 26-for-32 while sporting a perfect 55-for-55 mark in extra points. Earning a first-round bye and home-field advantage, the Broncos get back to work Jan. 12 at 4:30 p.m.
A starter in the last seven games of the regular season for the 10-6 Baltimore Ravens, offensive guard Jah Reid celebrated a division title and will go up against the Indianapolis Colts at home during Wild Card Weekend Jan. 6 at 1 p.m. Reid played in all 16 games as a rookie in 2011, but this year is the first time he has started on the line.
A third-round draft pick in 2012, Josh Robinson quickly rose up the Minnesota Vikings depth chart to start six games and appearing in all 16 as a rookie. The cornerback totaled 55 tackles and two interceptions to lift the Vikings to a 10-6 record and a date with the Green Bay Packers in Wisconsin Jan. 5 at 8 p.m.
Tied for seventh in the NFL this year with five interceptions, Asante Samuel continues to be an intimidating figure for NFL quarterbacks during his 10th season in the league. In his first year as a cornerback with the Atlanta Falcons, he has 36 tackles and 19 passes defended, highlighted by one of his interceptions being returned for a touchdown. The Falcons went 13-3 to earn home-field advantage, and will host a divisional playoff game Jan. 13 at 1 p.m.
Samuel owns two NFL postseason records with four interception returns for touchdowns as well as 227 interception return yards. He has seven-career postseason interceptions overall, which is two shy of the NFL record.
For the third time in five years with the Packers, Josh Sitton started all 16 games in 2012, and the offensive guard assisted Green Bay in edging the Vikings for the division title with an 11-5 record. The Packers will entertain the Vikings Jan. 5 at 8 p.m.
UCF has boasted at least one player in the AFC or NFC Championship Games in nine of the last 11 seasons, and six Knights have Super Bowl rings. That list features Mike Gruttadauria with St. Louis, Cornell Green with Tampa Bay, Samuel with New England (two rings) and Atari Bigby, Michael Greco and Sitton with Green Bay.
When the NFL Playoffs conclude, UCF will still be represented in the 2012-13 season when reigning Pro Bowl MVP and current Chicago Bears wide receiver Brandon Marshall suits up yet again in Hawaii Jan. 27. It will be his fourth trip to the Pro Bowl in his career, tying Samuel for the most appearances by a Knight. Daunte Culpepper also received spots in the postseason all-star game, earning a Pro Bowl roster spot three times with the Minnesota Vikings.
For complete coverage of UCF Athletics, visit the Knights’ website at www.UCFAthletics.com.