February 04, 2015

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) UCF is heading into rare territory next season as it vies for its third consecutive American Athletic Conference title. Now it's hoping its latest roster additions will help to fortify a defense with key holes to fill.

The Knights signed 17 players to national letters of intent on Wednesday. Nine are on defense, where it lost seven starters from a 2014 unit ranked in the top 10 in the country in both total and scoring defense.

The biggest need was at defensive back. UCF lost all four starters there, including sophomore cornerback Jacoby Glenn, who declared for the NFL draft after earning second-team AP All-America honors.

The Knights also filled needs at receiver after losing junior Breshad Perriman to the draft, as well as senior starters Rannell Hall and J.J. Worton.

''I would say this class is probably the most talented class of the ones since I've been here, as far as filling the need,'' Knights coach George O'Leary said.

O'Leary said there may be one additional signing, not counting linebacker and former Virginia transfer Demeitre Brim, who played on the scout team in 2014 and will go on scholarship.

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Top 25 class: No.

Best in class: Taj McGowan, WR, Hallandale (Fla.). McGowan is set to enroll in the spring at UCF after amassing 768 rushing yards for a 9.7 yards per rush average and 14 touchdowns as a senior in 2014. He chose the Knights over offers from Cincinnati, Illinois, Bowling Green, Temple, Utah, Utah State, and Marshall. He's speedy and what the coaching staff hopes can be the cornerstone of the depleted receiving corps.

Best of the rest: Rashard Causey, DB, Miami (Fla.). Causey was long committed to Florida Atlantic, but opened his recruiting back up last month. UCF won an in-state battle for him over Florida and Florida State and his hometown Miami.

Late addition: Brandon Scott, DB, New Sarpy (La.). Scott was a big coup for UCF, who chose the Knights over Arkansas despite taking a visit there last week. He's a big tackler (70 tackles as a senior, including 11 for a loss) that's reminiscent of departed safety Clayton Geathers.

One that got away: Kahlil Lewis. WR, Miramar (Fla.). The Knights were hoping he'd change his verbal commitment from West Virginia. He did flip, but he chose to sign with Cincinnati over both UCF and the Mountaineers.

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