Sylvester Bembery

Sylvester Bembery

Event:
Football: 1984-87

Hall of Fame:
Class of 2009

Sylvester Bembery was a four-year standout for the Knights from 1984-87, playing under three head coaches Lou Saban and Red Anderson in 1984, then the first three years of the Gene McDowell era.

From 1985-87, the team would improve on its win total from the season prior, culminating with a 9-4 mark in 1987. That year, the Fighting Knights advanced to the Division II Playoffs, knocking off Indiana (Pa.) in the first round, and then falling to perennial power and eventual National Champion Troy the following week.

Several early footnotes occurred during Bembery's tenure, including UCF's first game against an NCAA Division I opponent, at Louisville, in 1985 and the first big attendance game when 23,760 came to watch then 4-1 UCF take on Wofford for Homecoming at the Citrus Bowl in 1986. That 1986 season's 6-5 mark was the first winning season for UCF since the inaugural 1979 campaign.

Bembery's 1987 squad was simply impressive, holding opponents to just 67 points all season, just over five points allowed per game. He was subsequently named the team's Lineman of the Year.

Despite being an unstoppable force along the UCF defensive line, Bembery did not go onto to play in the NFL, rather to the fledgling Arena Football League. Bembery quickly became a superstar in the new AFL, earning all-league six times.

His 11 seasons, from 1988-2001, led to such accolades as: #7 among the 20 Greatest AFL Players in 2006; 2001 Second Team 15th Anniversary Team; 1999 All-ArenaBowl Team; 1996 Second Team All-Arena; 10th Anniversary Team; 1995 Second Team All-Arena; 1993 All Star Game; 1992 First Team All-Arena; 1991 First Team All-Arena; 1990 First Team All-Arena; 1988 Second Team All-Arena.

Bembery first played in with the New England Steamrollers in 1988 then went to the Albany Firebirds for four seasons, 1990-93. Bembery would reclaim his local legend status spending six seasons with the Tampa Bay Storm, 1994-99. The Storm would go onto win two ArenaBowls Championships during his tenure in 1995 and 1996. He would play the 2000 season with the Buffalo Destroyers, before returning to the Storm in 2001.

His jersey was retired by the Storm in 2002. He was inducted into the UCF Athletics Hall of Fame in 2009.

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