ORLANDO - The critical month of June is right around the corner. With how UCF Head Coach Gus Malzahn and his entire staff are recruiting, there’s ample reason for optimism.
On the Road: High School Spring Ball
A really good way to gauge how any college football program is doing on the recruiting trail is ask face-to-face questions to prospects. While in Georgia and Florida this spring, that’s something that’s been noted many times. There are several of the usual schools being mentioned like Georgia or Ohio State when talking to recruits, but there are some new names as well.
One of them is UCF. This is especially interesting because much of that chatter is happening in Georgia (see the section below). Further, the article that was just published a couple of days ago discusses this situation at length via Langston Hughes High School, one of the most talented programs in all of Dixie: UCF Recruiting Multiple Langston Hughes Prospects.
When asking prospects about schools they will visit, coaches recruiting them hard, which program do they feel comfortable with, etc., UCF comes up as much or more than some of the SEC programs. Overall, that’s a great sign for UCF Football’s future.
Location Matters: Where UCF is Recruiting
UCF is primarily recruiting Florida and Georgia. That’s arguably the No. 1 point to take away from the 2023 recruiting cycle because once a definitive base is set, it becomes easier and easier to come back to those states and high school football programs. The UCF coaching staff must be happy with how recruiting is trending because the assistant coaches on the road continue to hammer those two states. Next, talking positions.
As everyone that follows UCF recruiting knows, linebacker recruiting is pivotal. The lack of depth for the 2022 roster is not suddenly going to be better in 2023. Recruit, recruit, and recruit some more. That’s the only option (Transfer Portal included).
With Troy Ford, Jr. already in the fold for the Knights, at least two more linebackers with literally all the needed ingredients to play early like size, speed, and overall athleticism, those traits will be needed with at least two more high school linebackers; that does not pertain to UCF’s other need for adding a couple of linebackers from the Transfer Portal that will play in 2022. The above is strictly about the 2023 recruits/season.
Lastly for this section, the UCF coaching staff is definitively recruiting needs at impact positions. There’s a premium being placed on recruiting the defensive line, cornerback, and offensive line. If a program over-recruits a position, it’s best if it’s truly an impact position like one of those three. For UCF, it’s a good strategy to go after several prospects to at least meet the minimum needs, if not take an extra player at cornerback, etc. that’s just too good to pass up.
Talking Official Visits
While even keeping up with UCF’s official visits can be daunting, the overall theme is most important to note. The talent level is very good among the recruits that are set to visit UCF in June (the list changes at least every couple of days). This is not a bunch of players that UCF is willing to take a flier on. There’s ample talent, regardless of position.
For instance, just browsing a few of the players that are coming to UCF for the June 3 weekend, John Walker (DT), Joshua Horton (DT), Ja’Keem Jackson (CB) and Kaven Call (DE/OLB - UCF commitment) all have at least one offer from the following: Ohio State, Notre Dame, Alabama, Clemson, and Georgia. There are many ways to evaluate recruits, with the offer list certainly belonging in the conversation.
More about UCF’s official visits will be discussed multiple times by Inside The Knights leading up to the June 3 weekend.
On the Upswing: Defensive Tackle Recruiting
At one point, there was some concern about whether or not UCF would be able to land at least one top-notch defensive tackle recruit. That’s gone away. Walker, Horton, Terry Simmons (teammates with Ford), and Guerlens Milfort (yet another top prospect from Lakeland High School) are all visiting UCF in June. That’s a fantastic list of talent.
Will the Knights eventually sign any one of those four defensive tackle recruits? Possible. Too early to tell. One thing is for sure. If they do not visit the UCF campus they are not signing with the Knights. To this point, hats off to all the members of the UCF coaching staff and recruiting administration staff for building the relationships with all the right people so that those top defensive tackle recruits will visit UCF. For now, that’s all that can be asked.
Signing The Show-Stopper
The one area that’s still unknown about this class, as well as UCF in general, is whether UCF can finalize on a national top 25 prospect. That’s easier said than done. It might not happen this cycle, but the trending UCF program has made such humongous strides in less than a year it may not be that long.
Point blank, very few recruiting analysts saw what UCF is doing now coming to fruition. The Knights are landing players with major SEC offers. Has that ever consistently happened in UCF Football history? Not one prospect mind you, but several with SEC offers like Georgia, Tennessee and Florida.
Landing the absolute top-of-the-board recruit is always the ultimate goal. UCF could be closing in on that opportunity sooner than many believe.