ORLANDO - When current UCF Head Coach Gus Malzahn arrived in Orlando, he said he was going “To recruit like our hair is on fire. We’re going to go after the best players in America and we’re not backing down to anybody.”
He lived up to that promise, having some of the top players in the country come and spend time at UCF, including top edge rusher and now Alabama commitment Jeremiah Alexander, just as an example.
Coach Malzahn and his staff quickly assembled what is currently regarded as the most talented recruiting class in UCF’s history, beating out multiple Power Five schools.
Another promise Coach Malzahn is living up to is about recruiting Florida like never before, as of his 14 commits (12 scholarship, 2 walk on) 11 reside in the Sunshine State. Now as we sit with just under 70 days remaining until the Early Signing Period for high school prospects, his staff have turned their attention to a couple main targets as well as a small group of guys, and getting an early start recruiting the Class of 2023.
The Henderson Twins
The top two targets for UCF on the defensive side of the ball reside just up the road in Sanford, Fla. Demari and Ja’Cari Henderson, twin defensive backs from Seminole High School are both highly regarded prospects for Coach Malzahn and Defensive Coordinator Travis Williams. The pair play and are captains alongside UCF linebacker commitment Kam Moore, who is playing a major part in their recruitment.
Moore and the twins are extremely close friends and have expressed interest in playing their collegiate football together. Both twins possess natural ballhawking abilities with Demari lining up as safety and Ja’Cari playing the cornerback position. On the first of October the twins announced they were down to their final three schools, Florida, Miami, and UCF.
Running Back Recruit to Watch
The main target for Malzahn’s offense is a workhorse running back from Alpharetta (Ga.) Milton, Jordan McDonald. McDonald has been a powerhouse back for Milton High School, picking up 1,338 yards and 24 touchdowns during the 2020 season.
Very similar to UCF’s current starting running back Isaiah Bowser, McDonald provides a versatile running back. Whether it’s catching passes out of the backfield or running over defenders on his way to the endzone, McDonald excels at both. Then, once he’s bounced off a few tacklers he bursts down the field for six.
On the fifth of September McDonald confirmed that his commitment was going to come down to South Carolina and UCF.
The running back visited South Carolina for the six point loss to Kentucky in September, and now will visit with UCF this weekend before coming to a decision.
Junior College Prospects
There are a additional names to keep an eye on as we approach the early signing period, which begins on Dec. 15, beginning with two players from the junior college ranks.
Two massive junior college offensive linemen Isaiah Adams and Lisala Tai are both linked with UCF. Adams, who stands 6’6”, while weighing 320 pounds, made an official visit to UCF for their exciting win against Boise State in September.
Tai is also an imposing presence standing at an impressive 6’8”, and weighing a monstrous 340 pounds. The former BYU enrollee just received his UCF offer and could eventually play his college football in Orlando. Now a look at a few more 2022 high school prospects.
Other 2022 Names To Watch
A’Ceon Cobb is another under the radar name to look at. The 6'1", 180 pound local receiver from Orlando (Fla.) Jones holds an offer from UCF.
He has shown playmaking ability and speed, picking up 327 yards and six touchdowns so far this season. There’s recruiting news on the defensive side of the football as well.
A top tier defensive tackle recruit Malachi Madison is also still an option for Coach Malzahn and Coach Williams. He plays for Chester (Va.) Thomas Dale.
Madison was originally set to commit in September, but he decided to take a few more weeks to evaluate and will now announce a decision between Mississippi State, UCF, and Virginia Tech on Oct. 13.
UCF has also entered the running for East Carolina commit Kaleb Webb. Playing for Powder Springs, (Ga.) McEachern, the wide receiver saw his recruitment increase since August, receiving a string of offers from Kentucky, Ole Miss, South Carolina, UCF, and others. Considering Webb’s speed, he could become an even more attractive commodity as the early signing day draws nearer.
Early Peek Into the Class of 2023
With their 2022 recruiting class mostly complete, Coach Malzahn and his staff have started to blaze a trail into future recruiting. That has led to several major recruits having UCF high on their list of schools, and UCF fans should be paying attention to these prospects.
Running Back Coach Tim Harris and Recruiting/Offensive Assistant Coach Kam Martin have been pushing to bring in a dynamic duo of big body runner Cedric Baxter and elusive Javin Simpkins who just returned to action from a shoulder injury.
Baxter lives near the UCF campus, playing for Orlando (Fla.) Edgewater. The 6’1”, 220 pound running back has been one of the best players in Florida this season, and had another big game this week.
The 5’9”, 175 pound Simpkins plays for Miami (Fla.) Norland, and he’s been playing well in his own right.
They would add completely different dynamics to the UCF rushing attack similar to Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt of the Cleveland Browns. UCF also continues to target elite defensive line players with Kaven Call, an amazing pass rusher from Apopka (Fla.) High School. Call is 6'2", 245 pounds.
Call is one of the best players in the entire state of Florida and is friends with UCF cornerback commit Nikai Martinez who attends the same school. Another elite local player who does his work in the trenches is 6’7”, 325 pound offensive tackle Payton Kirkland, who plays for Orlando (Fla.) Dr. Phillips.
The big offensive lineman that has consistently been visiting UCF. He recently released a top 12 schools list that featured UCF alongside schools like Clemson, Michigan State, and Ohio State.
Quarterbacks Coach and Offensive Coordinator GJ Kinne and Coach Malzahn are locked in on getting cousins Creed Whittemore and Malachi Singleton to come to UCF. Creed is a high school quarterback for Gainesville (Fla.) Buchholz, the same school as current UCF wide receiver commitment Quan Lee.
Whittemore, 5’11”, 175 pounds, will likely play wide receiver at the next level, like his father, former UCF receiver Mark Whittemore. He came to a UCF summer football camp.
The 6’2”, 220 pound Singleton is a highly recruited quarterback and would be a huge coup for Kinne and Malzahn in recruiting. He plays for Kennesaw (Ga.) North Cobb, one of the best high school teams in Georgia for 2021.
Singleton, like Whittemore, visited UCF for a summer football camp. He’s being recruited by programs across the South, and would be a major pickup for any school that signs him.