1. Elite Speed
While he may only be a true freshman, running back Adrian Killins is one of the fastest players to ever play for the University of Central Florida. A heralded track and field star for Mainland High School in Daytona Beach, FL, Killins’ personal records (10.53s in 100m, 21.16s in 200m) rank ahead of former Knights speedsters Todd Cleveland (10.94s in 100m, 21.36s in 200m) and Breshad Perriman (11.83s in 100m, 23.99s in 200m). Only former receiver Quincy McDuffie, now with the Canadian Football League’s Winnipeg Blue Bombers, has clocked a faster time in the 200-meter dash (21.14s).
Killins won back-to-back Class 3A state titles in the 200-meter dash in 2015 and 2016 and finished one-tenth of a second short from earning first in the 100-meter dash in 2015.
2. Pregame Rituals
Before every game, Killins likes to take a knee and pray in the locker room and on the field. During warmups, he works a sweat and gets his blood flowing an hour prior to kickoff as if he was preparing to run in a track and field meet. His routine involves calisthenics—A-skips, B-skips, stretches and lunges—and sprinting three 50-yard sprints.
“I just like to have fun before the game. You can’t be too uptight,” Killins said. “To me, [being] overly focused can lead to bad things. [My teammates] watch me do it… They’ll probably do it because it helps me, and they see me going fast on the field, so they might go, ‘Oh, I should do that so I can run fast on the field.'”
3. Favorite Rushers
Killins idolizes Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson, not because they share the first name, but because of how well-rounded a rusher he is.
“He can catch out the backfield. He’s got great speed to be so big; he’ll run you over sometimes,” Killins said. “I’m not a guy that will run you over, but I’ll make you miss. And he can make you miss as well.”
The Daytona Beach native also grew up admiring former University of Oregon receiver and return specialist De’Anthony Thomas. As a recruit, Killins wanted to attend a school like many of the teams in the Pac-12. UCF head coach Scott Frost’s decision to come to Orlando brought the best of both worlds for Killins to make an easy selection.
“I wanted to go to a school that can put the ball in my hands in space and like to go fast,” he said. “I’m an hour away from home, so I thank God that Coach Frost came here so I don’t have to go far and go somewhere that’s cold.”
That’s Killins’ average yards per carry on just 10 total rushing attempts in three games played. It’s a small sample size and falls short of qualifying amongst FBS-leading rushers (a player must have at least 6.25 attempts for every game his team has played). But if he met the criteria, Killins would be on pace to lead the nation.
Frost said in his game-week press conference on Monday that Killins will see more playing time.
“We need to get Killins the ball in his hands six to 12 times a game. I think his yards per carry are going to be good all year,” Frost said. “It’s phenomenal right now. When you’ve got that kind of playmaker, you’ve got to get him the ball.
5. Making a Mark
The true freshman burst onto the college-football scene with his 87-yard touchdown highlight against the University of Michigan in Week 2. It was good enough for a school-record tie with former Knights running back Kevin Smith, who, in 2007, scored his 87-yarder against Marshall University during the same year he rushed for the third-most yards in a single NCAA season with 2,567.
Smith, who now serves as an offensive quality control assistant for UCF, offers advice to Killins occasionally but made notice of his breakout performance.
“[Smith] said, ‘What a great accomplishment to come in here in your freshman year, and first time touching the ball, and you tied my record,’” Killins recalled.
The former Detroit Lions running back set a total of 17 records during his three seasons at UCF, becoming the Knights’ all-time leading rusher (4,679) and setting an NCAA single-season record with 13 100-yard rushing games and 450 rushing attempts.
“It’s great knowing he’s set records here, and records are meant to be broken. So who knows what’s in the future for those records that he has,” Killins said.