ORLANDO - Here are a few observations and notes regarding UCF’s recruiting efforts. This list of information stems from traveling to high school practices and spring games, interviews, talking to high school coaches, as well as communicating with parents of recruits.
UCF Recruiting Momentum
It’s on the upswing, but maybe not in the way that many probably believed it would be. The Knights are casting a wide net over Florida, of course, as well as the majority of Georgia, too. Those two states have several players that are expecting to take official visits to UCF in June.
From that list, pay particular attention to any Georgia prospect that steps foot on the UCF campus, whether it is already set or comes about down the line. Perhaps it’s the long-lasting relationships current UCF coaches have in Georgia, maybe something else, but UCF’s status with Georgia prospects is trending upwards in a major way. It’s great to see.
Now, can the Knights seal the deal with non-committed recruits? The commitment list from Georgia is also a good starting point to discuss before moving into the players the Knights are attempting to add to the fold.
UCF has commitments from Troy Ford, Jr., a linebacker from Savannah (Ga.) Calvary Day School and Jamal Meriweather, an offensive tackle from Brunswick (Ga.) High School. Just reading the tea leaves and communicating with recruits, it’s a pretty safe bet that UCF ends up at least doubling that total by the time National Signing Day comes in December.
Offensive lineman Johnathan Cline (June 3) from Cartersville (Ga.) High School, defensive tackle Terry Simmons, Jr. (June 17) from Savannah (Ga.) Calvary Day School, and defensive tackle Joshua Horton (June 3) from Fairburn (Ga.) Langston Hughes are set for UCF official visits. There could be several more that have been set but not public, as well as the potential for more visits to line up.
Whatever it is that the UCF staff is doing in Georgia, it needs to bottle it and sell it. Recruiting is going well in the Peach State.
UCF in South Florida
There are several possible visitors from that area, with UCF likely to land a couple of players beyond the already committed Dylan Rizk, a quarterback from Fort Lauderdale (Fla.) Cardinal Gibbons.
MORE UCF RECRUITING NEWS: INTERVIEW WITH DYLAN RIZK
With players from Broward and Dade, the two most Southeastern counties in Florida, recruiting is always tough to project. Is UCF going to clean up down there? Absolutely not. No one school will clean up. Lots of competition. One can still be assured that UCF can add another player, perhaps two or three, from talent-rich Broward and Dade by December.
The best bet is Elvin Harris, an offensive lineman from Hollywood (Fla.) Chaminade-Madonna that was just interviewed by Inside The Knights on Tuesday. UCF looks to be the team to beat there, and there could be more action for the Knights at Chaminade-Madonna.
Harris is good friends with fellow Power Five offensive line talents Deaundre Duffus and William Larkins, the latter an Indiana University commitment. There are other talented players at the same school. The Lions are loaded, yet again.
There’s no one school to expect UCF to land talent from, however, as it’s truly amazing how many recruits come from a variety of high schools in both counties.
Close to Home
It is ironically the most difficult to gauge. The greater Orlando area prospects are absolutely all over the map about where they are visiting, possibly going to sign, camp, take an unofficial visit, etc. It’s chaotic. It’s a banner year for the greater Orlando area, but will the Knights reel in more than already committed defensive end Kaven Call from Apopka (Fla.) High School?
He’s a stud. That’s the promising news, but there are at minimum another 10 players from Orlando and its suburbs that Head Coach Gus Malzahn and his staff would probably like to sign. That’s going to be hard based on how things are looking now.
While elite defensive tackle John Walker (June 3) from Kissimmee (Fla.) Osceola is all set to visit UCF, programs like Southern California (June 10), Michigan (June 17) and Ohio State (June 24) are all in play, among others. UCF has been the host for Walker numerous times for unofficial visits, but can the Knights actually land the national defensive tackle recruit? It would be a huge boost to recruiting if it comes to fruition.
Maybe the best bet to end up at UCF would be yet another set of twins. The Harris twins – Michael and Andrew – play right up the road from UCF at Altamonte Springs (Fla.) Lake Brantley. Being 30 minutes from the UCF campus certainly cannot hurt. Both of them know UCF well from unofficial visits and attending the UCF camp in June of 2021. They are receiving a lot of national attention on the recruiting trail, but like many other Orlando area prospects, it’s really hard to say where they will end up. Key note about the Harris twins: it’s always been a package deal. If a school takes one, it takes the brother, too. That could end up being a factor in their final decisions.
Another player that is close to the UCF campus and one that has been to see the Knights unofficially would be Aidan Mizell, a wide receiver from Orlando (Fla.) Boone. He’s one of the fastest recruits in America. Despite his ties to Orlando and UCF, his parents both attended Florida. It might be hard to knock off the Gators in this recruiting battle.
UCF has been a school that cornerback Braeden Marshall has been interested in for a long time, but he’s also being targeted by many schools like North Carolina, Clemson and Pittsburgh, among others. It’s always good to find cornerbacks, and it’s hard to lose them when they are from close by. Marshall attends Lake Mary (Fla.) High School, about 45 minutes from UCF. He just made the announcement for when he will take his official visit to UCF.
Overall, the only disappointment from the 2023 recruiting efforts is how many prospects from the greater Orlando area appear to be trending towards leaving Florida. It’s not from a lack of effort of the UCF coaching staff and recruiting administrative staff either.
Conservatively, it’s probably a good projection to say 60% or more of the players along I-4 from Tampa to the north side of Orlando will head out of state, and it’s more of the same from Orlando towards Cocoa and the Space Coast. With how well UCF is recruiting in Georgia, the end result still looks to be very good.
Final note, it’s still very early. There are definitely going to be some twists and turns with the official visits ramping up the next few weeks. UCF has a chance to gain some commitments from out-of-state and in-state prospects, as well as turn the tide with prospects currently leaning elsewhere and at least line up official visits for the regular season. By the end of June, much more will be known about where UCF recruiting stands.