The national signing day is not until December 15, 2021. More importantly for looking at recruiting in the heat of the summer, the early portion of the recruiting calendar already passed by with the massive amount of official visits taken across the country. Many of the high school prospects in Florida, as well as the Florida college football programs themselves, saw quite a bit of recruiting action during June and early July.
Nobody knew what to expect coming out of the 15 month layoff from in-person recruiting. Now that college coaches and recruits visited with one another on college campuses across the country, at least there is some semblance of how UCF and the traditional big three of Florida, Florida State, and Miami recruited. Here's an overview via the podcast I just produced if you prefer that opportunity:
How well are the Knights doing to keep the recruiting pace? Here’s an overview, that will at least help give some context to the 2022 recruiting wars thus far. For each Florida school, here’s an overview of their recruiting class with at least three prospects being discussed per program.
Florida State - A- (15 commitments) Seminoles possess a chance for a top three national class.
Overall Theme: Seminoles bringing in size on both sides of the line and a special skill position playmaker.
Area to Improve: A big-bodied wide receiver and/or tight end to go along with the speed already recruited for the perimeter.
Any recruiting class that holds the commitment of Travis Hunter certainly possesses an ace in the hole. Hunter, one of the twitchiest and most athletically-gifted prep football players of the modern era, provides a show stopper at the top of the ‘Noles recruiting class.
He wants to play cornerback once reaching Tallahassee, but during his junior season the electric 6’0”, 165-pound talent from Suwanee (Ga.) Collins Hill recorded 137 receptions, 1,746 yards and a whopping 24 touchdown receptions. Maybe he should play wide receiver for Florida State, and it’s hard to imagine him not at least playing some offense during his time in Tallahassee, Fla.
The rest of the Seminoles recruiting class provides an additional 14 verbal commitments, including Sam McCall, another two-way standout, from Lakeland (Fla.) Lake Gibson. McCall probably projects best at safety where he can best utilize his arm length and overall size to play the football and defend the run. Like Hunter, McCall could play wide receiver.
Then there is California transplant now IMG Academy quarterback A.J. Duffy. The Florida State commitment is a natural passer and truly one of the most poised quarterbacks in the class of 2022. Duffy plays best from the pocket, so perhaps the Seminoles are moving towards a more balanced offensive approach to best utilize Duffy’s skills.
Along the offensive line, the Seminoles went with size. Adding Leesburg (Ga.) Lee County offensive tackle Qae’shon Sapp and his massive 6’5”, 350-pound frame to the roster will bolster the run game. Sapp is also a very good athlete and should be a player that competes for playing time by his sophomore year if not sooner.
From top to bottom, Florida State is off to a blazing start. It’s not a finished recruiting class, but the Seminoles roster will be much bigger and more athletic moving forward with just the prospects already in the fold.
Florida - B (10 commitments) The Gators have some serious upside prospects in the recruiting class. Florida needs a balanced positional approach the rest of the way through national signing day, and could climb as high as top five national status.
Overall Theme: Gators once again going with size and length on defense, and two burners at wide receiver for a really talented signal caller.
Area to improve: Need a dominant offensive tackle to come to Gainesville to offset the speed rushers across the SEC.
With linebacker Shemar James picking the Gators over the Crimson Tide, it was one of the biggest recruiting surprises of the early recruiting season (at least to the outside world beyond Mobile, Ala.). He’s a talented prospect in space and will lay a lick on a running back.
Tight end C.J. Hawkins just started to learn the nuances of playing flex tight end. The former basketball star still hoops, but his future will be in the Swamp. A 6’6” frame that’s talented enough to shake defensive backs in space and provides the length to high point the ball, Hawkins will be a good fit for Florida Head Coach Dan Mullen’s offense.
From seemingly out of nowhere, quarterback Nick Evers became a national name after throwing well and with velocity at the Dallas Elite 11 showcase. He earned respect as one of the nation’s best passers. He’s a lengthy and nimble signal caller that can run when needed as well. Combining him with the skill talent that the Gators collected over the past few classes and the two speedy wide receivers included in the 2022 class -- Isaiah Bond and Chandler Smith -- could prove lethal.
Watch out for cornerback Julian Humphrey, the Houston (Texas) Clear Lake talent provides the overall skills to be one of the SEC’s top cornerbacks before leaving Florida. Humphrey is also a possible free safety or nickel cornerback. Good to have defensive position flexibility within today’s spread-offensive era.
UCF - B- (eight commitments) Nice start to the recruiting class with balance on both sides of the football.
Overall theme: prospects that can run and possibly play two if not three specific positions, skill position prospects and defensive linemen included.
Area to improve: As much defensive back help as possible, and need at least one dominant defensive tackle. Additionally, leave room for transfers at the end of the 2021 season.
The Knights grabbed the quarterback of the future with Thomas Castellanos, a prospect with tremendous athleticism and the ability to operate UCF Head Coach Gus Malzahn’s offense very well.
Landing Lakeland (Fla.) High School defensive end Keahnist Thompson was a major get for the Knights as he picked UCF despite overtures from Miami, Florida, Alabama and Texas among other programs. Thompson’s 6’4”, 260-pound frame and natural athleticism will likely allow him to play early for the Knights.
One of the nation’s most underrated prospects will soon be well known as wide receiver Tyler Griffin is a tremendous athlete that dunks on people during basketball games and takes the football away from defensive backs during football games. The 6’4”, 200-pound wide receiver is going to make many college programs wish they recruited him.
If you want an undervalued prospect on defense for the Knights, it's T.J. Bullard from Tampa (Fla.) Berkeley Prep. He's a missle and loves contact. He projects at safety or linebacker, so there's good position versatility, too.
UCF is one of the most unique schools to gauge a recruiting class because of how many transfers could come to the program after the season. Signing at least 15 high school prospects should still be obtainable, and the class so far helps improve the roster.
Miami - C (Four commitments) There’s still plenty of time for the Hurricanes, but with only four prospects committed to Miami and none committed from the greater Miami and Fort Lauderdale areas, it’s not a typical Hurricanes recruiting class thus far.
Overall Theme: Elite athleticism stands out at cornerback at quarterback.
Area to Improve: defensive front seven recruiting still has a long way to go, but the Hurricanes are in on some of the nation’s top prospects like defensive end Shemar Stewart that lives in South Florida.
Landing talented cornerback prospect Chris Graves helped Miami with it’s defensive back needs, as Graves could probably play either cornerback or free safety. He’s a very talented prospect that could also land at wide receiver once he reaches Coral Gables, Fla.
Quarterback Jaccuri Brown has his best days ahead of him as his rocket for an arm and explosive open-field running ability give Miami a quarterback with a very high ceiling. Brown will be best with an offensive scheme that allows him to freelance from time to time, and that is what Miami already does with current signal caller D’Eriq King who ran for 538 yards last season.
Further, Brown fits the run-pass option game that Miami will utilize him with because despite being 6’4”, 210-pounds, he provides the shake to make defenders miss, and the open-field speed to earn big chunks of yardage when he tucks the football and takes off.
The next great cornerback for the Hurricanes could be Khamauri Rogers, a prospect from Lexington (Miss.) Holmes County. Rogers provides tremendous change of direction, natural instincts, make-up speed, and a thin frame that the Miami strength program will develop so there’s also a chance to add good weight as soon as he reaches Coral Gables. Long-term rankings may see Rogers prove to be one of the top three cornerbacks in the class of 2022.
Florida State far and away leads the pack for in-state recruiting, with Florida and UCF also holding good classes thus far. Miami’s class should be considered a work in progress. How each of these teams fare on the gridiron early this fall could be a factor before doing another update about each of these programs’ recruiting classes come late September.