For the purposes of this article, there will be three primary areas one should walk away knowing. 1) UCF Football already invested in recruiting Alabama prep football talent; 2) the Knights will continue to go hard after Alabama high school prospects; 3) the talents of defensive end Caden Story make him one of the best Alabama high school prospects for the class of 2022. With that information stated for the record, the Knights await the decision of Story in just over two weeks.
Here’s a closer look at Story’s recruiting timeline, how and why UCF knows so much about Story and the program he comes from, and a film analysis. For the class of 2022, keep in mind that the Knights want to bolster the overall speed, athleticism and depth of the defensive front seven. Story’s overall physical gifts and football acumen equate to precisely the type of prospect UCF Defensive Coordinator Travis Williams desires to add to the Knights’ roster.
Vitals: 6’4”, 260-pounds
School: Lanett (Ala.) High School
Recruitment: took an official visit to UCF (June 11), while also making multiple unofficial visits to Auburn during the month of June.
Back ‘Story’: Lanett is located just over 28 miles from Jordan-Hare Stadium where Auburn plays its home football games. That’s certainly about as close to being a hometown recruitment as one will witness. While the Tigers are the local favorites, it’s also intriguing that several members of UCF’s coaching and recruiting staff wore Auburn attire less than a year ago, and here are three examples.
With UCF Head Coach Gus Malzahn and Coach Williams coming over from Auburn to UCF, as well as Defensive Ends Coach Kenny Ingram possessing experience with Auburn as the Director of Player Relations, there’s also common ground between Story, his family, and UCF. This recruitment should not be considered one where Auburn is the local favorite and there are no other personal ties to programs still involved in his recruitment.
Here’s a good read regarding Story from the spring, written by SI All-American Publisher John Garcia:
The eye in the sky does not lie: the aforementioned phrase would be one commonly used by NFL player personnel directors, scouts and coaches, as well as similar people within the college and high school football communities. It’s true; check out Story’s film:
Two Particular Clips to Watch: While Story needs to be more consistent with utilizing his size (see description of his frame below), this young defensive end plays tough, physical football. Further, he’s capable of taking on bigger players along the offensive line without utilizing finesse moves as his one and only weapon.
The other interesting point from Story’s film would be his ability to play multiple positions along the defensive line. He’s not just a defensive end. During the next clip, Story moved to the A Gap and played one technique (nose guard) for Lanett High School’s defense.
A Closer Look at Story’s Frame: There are different types of defensive line prospects. Some defensive linemen will undoubtedly play along the interior because of their natural girth and weight, with a typical defensive tackle’s size being 6’3 to 6’6” and 280-pounds or more. Defensive ends, meanwhile, that position can be more about arm length, long legs, and agility.
Take NFL defensive end and physical freak Jadeveon Clowney as a prime example. According to an article by Chase Goodbread from NFL.com, Clowney measured 6’5 ¼” leading up to the 2014 NFL Draft. Most importantly, his wingspan far out-measured Clowney’s height. His wingspan was a tremendous 83-inches. To place Clowney’s arm length in perspective, that’s 6’11” from fingertip to fingertip when his arms are stretched horizontally.
When looking at Story on film, his arm length may not be quite like Clowney’s (few are). What Story does possess would be the length and height-at-the-hips of a prototypical defensive end for major college football and beyond. In short, this young man possesses the arm length, as well as the lower body structure, to continue to grow while still being a quick-reacting defensive end. That’s not something one can teach.
The Knights are working to bring in the best prospects from the state of Alabama. It’s a challenging task, but with coaching connections to the Yellowhammer State and continued perseverance along the recruiting trail, UCF will find success recruiting players like Story from the state of Alabama.