UCF football players are calling for one man to “come home” and fill the head coach vacancy left when Tennessee hired Josh Heupel.
Jeff Lebby is their guy.
Heupel left the UCF Knights to become the Tennessee Volunteers’ head coach on Wednesday — days after the Vols hired Danny White as their athletic director — and both current and former players have their eyes set on Lebby.
More than 30 tweets — and counting — have been posted by current and former players advocating for Lebby to come back to UCF, and junior quarterback Dillon Gabriel has retweeted nearly all of them.
Former UCF wide receiver and Buffalo Bills rookie Gabriel Davis tagged UCF President Alexander Cartwright and said he found a new head coach for the football team.
Lebby liked the tweet after Davis mentioned him. He has since removed the like from the post.
Cartwright said on Wednesday that UCF will move quickly to hire an athletic director, whose job it will be to hire a head coach.
“With our two vacancies, we have an opportunity to define the future of UCF Athletics,” Cartwright said. “When we had a similar opportunity five years ago, UCF made many hires that quickly elevated the national profile of our athletics programs.”
Former UCF running back Adrian Killins, who also spent time with the Philadelphia Eagles this season, said he knows a man fit for the job.
Killins finished his senior season in 2019, when Lebby was still guiding the Knights’ offense.
Lebby joined the Knights in December 2017 as quarterbacks coach before being promoted to offensive coordinator for the 2019 season. He is currently the offensive coordinator at Ole Miss.
He helped lead the Knights to a second straight undefeated regular season, a conference championship, a berth to the 2019 PlayStation Fiesta Bowl and a national ranking as high as No. 7 in both major polls.
Under Lebby’s guidance, quarterback McKenzie Milton earned his second American Athletic Conference Offensive Player of the Year honor and finished sixth in the Heisman Trophy voting that season.
Lebby led UCF to break program records in his last season with the team, ranking No. 2 nationally in total offense (540.5) and No. 5 in scoring (43.4), with 40 or more points in eight contests.
Now a quarterback at Florida State, Milton retweeted former UCF offensive lineman Wyatt Miller’s tweet that says to “bring back” Coach Lebby.
Former UCF kicker and free agent Dylan Barnes said when half the team is tweeting to hire a guy, it might mean something. Barnas, who played his last season as a Knight in 2019, was with the team during Lebby’s time at UCF.
Former UCF punter Mac Loudermilk, who was on the roster during Lebby’s time at the university, said Lebby is the man for the job.
Even UCF’s defensive players who know Lebby are chiming in. Former UCF defensive back Rashard Causey tweeted Thursday evening.
The hashtag #WeWantLebby gained traction Thursday afternoon. A hashtag that seems to have began with the younger players on the roster is now being used by UCF fans as well.
After Ole Miss broke the SEC record for total offense in conference games (562.4 ypg) — besting LSU’s mark of 550.0 yards per game set during the Tigers’ run to a national title last season — and had one of the most productive offensive seasons in SEC history, Lebby signed a new two-year deal.
For now, UCF’s deputy AD for brand activation, Scott Carr, is serving as interim director of athletics, while Randy Shannon, UCF’s defensive coordinator, is filling the interim head coaching role.
UCF Athletics said it plans to move quickly and finalize the selection of a search firm this week to identify and recruit the best candidates for the director of athletics position.
UCF said the search process will include input from coaches, athletics staff and student-athletes.