RE-U-Knighted: Sports business alumni team up in NFL

Thanksgiving just wouldn’t be the same without the Macy’s Day Parade, mashed potatoes, pumpkin pie and the Detroit Lions. The Lions have played their Thanksgiving home games since 1934, except for a timeout during World War II. This year’s holiday game will have a distinct UCF flavor both on and off the field.

Cornerback Mike Hughes, who helped UCF have an undefeated season in 2017 and was UCF’s first-round pick in 2018, joined the Lions in free agency earlier this year. UCF alumni Andrea ‘George’ 19 and Admi Smith ’20 Thursday won’t be hitting for the Silver and Blue, whose contributions as Lions employees will affect the game.

Andre’ George ’19 (left) and Ademi Smith ’20, who met while studying sports business management at UCF, reunited in Detroit this season when they joined the NFL’s Detroit Lions.

George and Smith met at UCF while studying sports business management in the business school and working with the UCF athletics video crew. The two AlumKnights, who dreamed of working in the NFL, reunited in Detroit this summer when George joined the Lions as a video assistant. Smith, in his third season with the Lions and first as a scout, couldn’t be more excited to be reunited with his Cavs teammates.

“Working with Andre was great,” Smith said. “I met Andre while working on the UCF football team, and we’ve been close ever since. I consider him not only a very close friend, but also a mentor.”

Both George and Smith credit UCF for providing the academic foundation, opportunities and connections to advance their careers in the highly competitive sports industry. Hear more from George and Smith about their time at UCF in the interview below.

andre george ’19

Video Assistant, Detroit Lions

Why did you choose to attend UCF? What drew you to a career in sports?
After I got my Associate in Business Administration from Troy University, my wife got a promotion at Home Depot for 28 years and we moved to Orlando. After doing some research, I had an immediate interest and desire to attend UCF. After visiting campus with my daughter, I fell in love with the campus, the environment, and most importantly, the people I met on my travels.

As a former athlete and a lover of sports, I’ve been itching to get back into sports. But I don’t know any other way than coaching or playing. After touring the campus and receiving information about the different degrees and minors offered at UCF, I noticed that there was a minor in Sports Business Management.I signed up Introduction to Sports Business Management (Course) with Prof. Scott Bukstein. After my first day of class, I discovered all the opportunities in sports business. My interest in working in the sports industry grew and I knew it was the career path I wanted to pursue.

How can your UCF degree help you in your career?
My degree and experience at UCF has given me valuable knowledge to aid my career and improve my communication and problem-solving skills. It also gave me the opportunity to demonstrate a strong work ethic through volunteer and internship opportunities, and gain experiences that boosted my self-confidence. It also helped me learn more about myself, become a better leader, manager, and mentor, and expand my social network.

What extracurricular activities did you participate in at UCF?
I am involved with the Sports Business Management Club (the minor is a major) and the MASS (Multicultural Academic and Support Services) Transfer Knights Club. I also work on the coaching video department for UCF Athletics and take advantage of the many volunteer and internship opportunities.

What is your favorite UCF memory?
My favorite memory at UCF is being the first student selected to take three end-of-year field trips with the Sports Business Management Club. The first trips took place to Paris and London as we celebrated the 10th anniversary of the programme. The second time, we went to Portland, Oregon; Seattle and Vancouver, Canada, and the third day, we went to Denver. These were valuable trips that introduced me to different parts of the organizations we visited and allowed me to network with many leaders in the sports industry. Another was as part of the coaching video staff for UCF Athletics and UCF Soccer, which won 13-0 and earned a spot in the Peach Bowl. We beat Auburn to close out a historic season as the only undefeated Division I college football team.

What advice would you give to students interested in studying sports business?
The advice I would give to students interested in studying sports business is to come in with a work mindset. Also, it is very important to take advantage of volunteer and internship opportunities. Volunteering and internships are the best way to find out what you want to do in an industry with so many great opportunities. The last piece of additional advice I would give is to build a strong network and build meaningful relationships, not only with professionals already in the industry, but also with your colleagues and classmates.

As Professor Lonny Butcher said in my first professional development class, “It’s not what you know and who you know, it’s who knows you. Good people can always be taught, but you can’t teach someone who knows how to work.” how to be a good man.”

How did you become a video assistant for the Detroit Lions?
I have no direct, directed path to where I am currently. I actually had a very unconventional route, but a very interesting one. I started my career in the sports industry with the Orlando Predators Arena football team as a football operations intern. As Predators ceased operations, I was fortunate enough to join the UCF Athletics Coaching Video Team as a student video administrator. I also completed a three-year internship at Florida Citrus Sports as a hospitality suite manager during college football bowl season. I also did training camp/preseason with the current Washington Commanders as an operations intern. In the end, I spent two years at Florida State University as a video assistant intern, which led to my current opportunity with the Detroit Lions.

What did you learn at UCF and continue to benefit your sports business program on the job?
I’ve learned not to be afraid to step out of my comfort zone and to be comfortable when I’m uncomfortable. Build strong relationships with your colleagues, as well as other professionals in the industry, and make a lasting impression by leaving a better place than you did before you got there.

why do you do what you do
As a former athlete, I always wanted to get back into sports and being a student at UCF gave me a sense of direction and avenues to pursue my passions, aspirations, things I love to do, and achieve through a day’s work. dream of being in the NFL.

You work with UCF alumna Ademi Smith ’20. How great is it to work with fellow knights?
It is a rare opportunity and a kind of luck to be able to reunite with Ademi again. We’ve worked together before when we were part of the UCF Athletics video crew. After Ademi arrived at UCF as a freshman, I took him under my wing and guided him throughout his educational journey at UCF. After graduation, we kept in touch as we each went our separate ways in the sports industry. Our ongoing connection over the years opened the door for me to join him with the Detroit Lions organization.

What do you like most about what you do?I love the versatility of being able to study and complete a variety of assignments, travel to different parts of the country, have flexible hours, be able to collaborate with colleagues to achieve successful results, accept the hard work that the job requires and be successful in the sports industry. Also, I love being a part of the game I grew up loving and working with people who are as excited as I am about working in the industry.

smith ’20

Scouting, Detroit Lions

Why did you choose to attend UCF? What drew you to a career in sports?
I chose to attend UCF because I knew I wanted to stay in-state (I’m from Tampa, FL), but I also had the opportunity to meet the Doc (Prof. C. Keith Harrison) and the professor. B (Scott Bukstein) during summer 2016 at the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania. I already knew I wanted to go to a school that had a sports business program and work as a scout. Once I was with Dr. Harrison and Bukstein, there’s no question in my mind that this is the perfect project for me.

How can your UCF degree help you in your career?
My UCF degree shows that I am interested in working in sports, but it also shows that I know something about the industry. When people see it on my resume, it opens up conversations about what I learned in school and allows me to showcase my business knowledge, which in turn helps me demonstrate that I’m a great candidate.

What extracurricular activities did you participate in at UCF?
While at UCF, I was in the Sports Business Minor and the Sports Business Management Club, and I worked on the video department for the UCF football team.

What is your favorite UCF memory?
Definitely when UCF wins the Peach Bowl.

What advice would you give UCF students?
UCF has a lot of great resources – be sure to take advantage of them. Conversations with my professors outside of the classroom and with the academic advising office helped me develop a plan that worked for me.

What do you do
As a scout for the Detroit Lions, I traveled across the country evaluating college football players. I live in Detroit and help with various tasks in the office.

How did you get to where you are now?
Through my work experience at UCF Football and participation in All-Star events such as the East-West Shrine Bowl and the Senior Bowl, I was able to land an internship with the Lions in the summer of 2019. I completed two shorter internships at their 2020 East-West Shrine Bowl and NFL Combine. At the end of the combine, I was offered a full-time position as a scouting assistant. After one year as a scouting assistant and one year as a personnel assistant, I was promoted to scouting.

What did you learn at UCF and continue to benefit your sports business program on the job?
The ability to work as a collaborative team is huge. Through various volunteering opportunities at UCF, I was able to develop this skill, which has helped me in my career. Other key skills include time management, finding creative solutions to complex problems, and seeing ambiguity as an opportunity rather than an obstacle.

why do you do what you do
I love football and especially the way the roster is structured. I love being able to see a ton of talented players every year and play a small part in building the future of the Detroit Lions.

You work with UCF alumnus Andre’ George ’19. How great is it to work with fellow knights?
Working with Andre has been great. I met Andre while working for UCF Football, and we’ve been close ever since. I consider him not only a very close friend but also a mentor to me. Working with him again has been a great experience and I look forward to continuing to see him grow in the industry.

What do you like most about what you do?
I love that my career is focused on football and every day is different!

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