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Grading UCF's Offensive Skill Position Recruits

UCF did a fantastic job of signing highly talented players that fit the offense.
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To say that UCF did a good job of recruiting skill position talent would be a vast understatement. Speed, quickness, power, and versatility were all mixed together with the following six recruits.

The key component here would be fit. It’s one thing to sign talent, it’s quite another to fit that talent into an offensive scheme like UCF. Based on seeing all of these young men on film, and five of the six live, there’s no question the Knights signed the type of players needed to elevate the offense long term.

Here’s the podcast for the six players followed by an overview in writing of each prospect.

Thomas Castellanos, Quarterback

If there’s a better pure fit for UCF Head Football Coach Gus Malzahn’s offense in Florida or Georgia, the two primary states that the Knights tend to recruit, it’s unbeknownst to anyone working at Inside The Knights.

That would be No. 1 on the list: fit. Castellanos, from Waycross (Ga.) Ware County, brings an elite arm, the ability to throw from many different angles, as well as throw on the run. All of those attributes will be used when operating a spread attack that features run-pass option plays. Watch this pass from Castellanos and judge for yourself:

When Castellanos runs, he’s as dynamic as any prep quarterback in the country. There’s a reason schools like Clemson and Florida State were interested in him as a defensive back and running back respectively. He’s truly gifted.

It’s hard to imagine UCF not using him in packages near the goal line during his freshman season, and that’s if he does not win the quarterback job outright.

Position Grade: A-

Jordan McDonald, Running Back

A downhill runner with speed at the second level to run away from many defensive backs, McDonald’s overall skill will allow him to be a three-down running back for the Knights.

The most important aspect for him to play early is learning the pass protection scheme. Once that's good to go, McDonald will be more likely to hit the field for the Knights even with a loaded running back room. His style in high school was similar to a familiar name to fans of the Knights.

He’s much like current UCF running back Isaiah Bowser in that he really grinds out the yardage inside the tackles, and he’s adept at reaching the perimeter and making a defender miss to create chunk-yardage plays.

Playing for Alpharetta (Ga.) Milton also helped McDonald as it’s a 7A program just north of Atlanta. He’s used to playing against elite talent.

Position Grade: A-

Tyler Griffin, Wide Receiver

A long and lean boundary receiver, Griffin is a really twitchy player for his size. In fact, the Brooklet (Ga.) Southeast Bulloch prospect even played running back despite being 6’4”, 200-pounds. There are two other areas to think about with Griffin before he embarks on his UCF career.

First, he’s dominated for quite some time but did so in rural Southeast Georgia. If he’s able to consistently beat press coverage as a freshman for the Knights, he’s going to play very early. The UCF offense loses Brandon Johnson after scoring 11 receiving touchdowns. He played boundary receiver, the same exact wide receiver position that Griffin will likely play.

Is he going to be ready for physical cornerbacks right away? If yes, look out. Then again, it might take a year to adjust to all the technical nuances of college football. That’s par for the course.

Second, he really jumped well. That’s going to aid him playing the boundary position. He won 50-50 balls that other wide receivers could not win.

Xavier Townsend, Wide Receiver

An all-around player for Tampa (Fla.) Berkeley Prep, Townsend concentrated on running back during his high school career. He did not miss a beat regardless of the position he played, however, and his efforts extended to wide receiver and the return game.

Agile and quick, Townsend’s ability to accelerate, to stop quickly, then reaccelerate while he moved past defenders was a thing of beauty. He also ran through tacklers, as well as spin of tackles to gain extra yardage.

He’s also used to catching the football in the screen game and as a traditional receiver, and that last category is where he will likely play for the Knights. Look for Townsend to play in the slot for UCF, although he could play out wide as well.

Lastly, he’s going to be a part of the return game for the Knights at some point, if not during his freshman season.

Quan Lee, Wide Receiver

Few wide receivers catch the football over their shoulder like Lee. When watching his senior film, that’s one of the primary areas that stood out. He made catches with defensive backs right on his hip and over his shoulder. That’s a hard catch, but it’s a testament to Lee’s hand-eye coordination and overall wide receiver talent.

Lee is more well known for his shake-and-bake moves after the football reaches his hands. Make no mistake, Lee put on a show numerous times when he caught the football or ran the football. It was rare for the first defender to tackle him.

Lee is one of the most competitive players in the prep ranks and will bring a competitive edge to Orlando. He could play multiple roles for UCF as an outside receiver, slot receiver, and in the return game.

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Overall, this group may not be done yet because another receiver could be brought in via the Transfer Portal. Time will tell. UCF probably needs another boundary receiver that can play right away. Otherwise, this group is outstanding.

Position Grade: B+

Grant Stevens, Tight End

Up near Jacksonville at Ponte Vedra Beach (Fla.) Nease, Stevens made a name for himself as a versatile tight end that’s truly an extension of the wide receiver corps. His versatility in the passing game would be why.

Whether running a shallow cross, corner route, and even a tight end screen, Stevens possessed the ability to catch the football and then create yardage thereafter. He’s not just a big body that catches the football; he’s going to create plays with his feet.

Stevens fits best as a detached tight end. The next step, in college, is to be able to consistently play as an inline tight end as well. Short term, look for Stevens to play in space more often than not.

Once his frame adds another 10 pounds and he’s even stronger, Stevens will be more likely to take on defensive ends and linebackers in the running game.

Overall, the most important point is that Stevens can be used in a variety of ways as a playmaker. Not that many tight ends run like he does coming out of high school.

Like with the receiver position, it would be great to add another player to the group via the Transfer Portal that can be a dominant run blocker from day one on the UCF campus. Beyond that point, this is a really good player that’s going to help UCF’s offense with his talent and his overall fit for the offense.

Position Grade: B

For UCF coverage and recruiting information go to: The Daily Knight podcast. For more college football, UCF and recruiting information, go to Twitter: @fbscout_florida and @UCF_FanNation, as well as my YouTube Channel and Instagram page. Like and Subscribe!

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