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In his 11th campaign overall at UCF in 2015, Brent Key begins his first year as its offensive coordinator and running backs coach. He has worked his way up the ranks with the Knights, originally starting as a graduate assistant in 2005. Coach Key is responsible for recruiting Florida (De Soto, Hardee, Highlands, Osceola and Polk County), Northwest Georgia, Northern Alabama (Birmingham), Alaska, Hawaii, Kansas and New Mexico.
Key spent the previous six seasons as the program's offensive line coach. Prior to 2012, he was promoted to assistant head coach, and then the assistant head coach of offense in 2014. Before that, he spent time with the Knights' tight ends and special teams, while also having the role of recruiting coordinator.
In 2012, 2013 and 2014, Key was selected as a national nominee for the Broyles Award, which is given out to the top assistant coach in college football.
With a revamped line in 2014, Key shaped several players into consistent starters that guided UCF to a 9-4 record, a trip to the Bitcoin St. Petersburg Bowl and its second straight American Athletic Conference title. Chavis Dickey became the first true freshman to start on the offensive line since 2006, and he started the final 12 games. Converted defensive lineman Jason Rae flipped to center and promptly started the final five outings.
The line helped pave the way for all-league first team running back William Stanback, while Torrian Wilson was voted on to the second team.
Key's offensive line had a sensational 2013 campaign, helping the Knights go 12-1, claim the conference title, win the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl and finish ranked No. 10 in the country. Along the way, UCF earned its first two wins over top-10 teams (No. 6/5 Baylor and No. 8/6 Louisville), and it did not allow a sack against Penn State, Louisville, UConn and Baylor.
The line paved the way for an offense that averaged 441.5 yards and 34.6 points per game, two of the highest marks in program history. It also helped provide plenty of protection for quarterback Blake Bortles, who would be named The American's Offensive Player of the Year.
Three linemen received postseason honors by The American with Jordan McCray and Justin McCray being selected to the first team and Chris Martin grabbing a spot on the second team. And all three signed free-agent deals with NFL clubs.
A total of three offensive linemen received C-USA honors in 2012, highlighted by All-C-USA First Team center Jordan Rae. Meanwhile, Wilson earned a spot on the second team and Jordan McCray receieved honorable-mention status. The trio helped UCF go 10-4 on the year, win the C-USA East Division and pick up a victory in the Beef `O' Brady's Bowl.
Key's work on the line enabled UCF to rush for 33 touchdowns, marking the fourth-most in school history. The Knights also passed for 3,158 yards with 28 touchdowns, and they tied the school record for fewest interceptions thrown (seven). UCF ranked second in the league in scoring offense and third in fewest sacks allowed.
UCF's offensive line received several postseason accolades in 2011, as Nick Pieschel was voted onto the All-C-USA Second Team by the league's coaches, Theo Goins and Rae earned spots on the honorable mention list and Wilson was named to the C-USA All-Freshman Team. That season, the line helped pave the way for 27 rushing touchdowns.
Key's offensive line was instrumental in 2010 as the Knights won 11 games and claimed the C-USA Championship after going 7-1 in league play. UCF earned a spot in the AutoZone Liberty Bowl and defeated Georgia, 10-6, to record the first bowl victory in school history. The Knights concluded the year ranked in the top 25 of both national polls.
The offensive line helped UCF average 32.1 points and 374.0 yards per contest. The line was anchored by right tackle Jah Reid, who garnered a spot on the All-C-USA First Team. Reid was selected by Baltimore in the third round of the 2011 NFL Draft. He was one of four UCF linemen who received honors from C-USA. Pieschel was an honorable mention all-league pick and twins Jordan and Justin McCray nabbed spots on the C-USA All-Freshman Team.
The progress in UCF's offensive line was quite evident in 2009 as UCF improved from 229.5 yards per game in 2008 to 340.8 in 2009, one of the five-largest jumps in the nation. Reid earned first-team All-C-USA honors for his work in 2009.
While with the Knights, Key helped tight end Mike Merritt develop into a professional prospect. Merritt had 14 catches for 161 yards as a senior in 2007 and was a seventh-round selection of the Kansas City Chiefs in the 2008 National Football League Draft. Merritt proved to be one of the best run-blocking tight ends in the country, helping the Knights set a program record with 3,287 rushing yards in 2007.
Corey Rabazinski also had a strong campaign for the Knights in 2007. He totaled 10 catches for 66 yards with two scores. Working with Key in 2006, Rabazinski developed into one of UCF's top receiving threats as a true freshman when he recorded 12 catches for 145 yards.
During Key's time in Orlando, the Knights have participated in seven total bowl games and won four conference titles (2007, 2010, 2013, 2014).
A former standout at Georgia Tech under George O'Leary, Key was a four-year starter (1997-00) for the Yellow Jackets at right guard. During his career, he helped Georgia Tech rank in the top three in the Atlantic Coast Conference in rushing all four years.
Key started 44 games for the Yellow Jackets and was part of a senior class that earned four-straight bowl berths, a first for the program since the 1950s. During Key's sophomore year in 1998, Georgia Tech went 10-2, earned a share of the ACC title and participated in the Gator Bowl.
In 2000, Key was an All-ACC selection. He helped Georgia Tech rank in the top-20 nationally in total offense, passing offense and scoring offense. Key was also part of an offensive line that led the league in fewest sacks allowed with 16, including only 14 by the starting five. He earned ACC Offensive Lineman of the Week honors after his performance against Maryland, when he helped the Yellow Jackets record 547 yards of total offense. Following his senior season, Key played in the Rotary Gridiron Classic in Orlando.
Key began his coaching career at Georgia Tech in 2001 as the offensive graduate assistant coach under O'Leary. Prior to joining the staff at UCF, he worked at Western Carolina in 2004, coaching the tight ends and running backs.