Sometimes a football finds his sport later than some other players. In the case of UCF football commitment Miguel Maldonado, later is the operative term. Growing up, football was not even his second choice. Regardless of how he made it being a football player, the UCF football coaching staff is sure glad he did.
The 6’6”, 325 pound offensive tackle played competitive football for the first time last fall. Starting at left tackle for Lakeland (Fla.) High School, he showed excellent progress in less than one full season. See highlights below:
“This year was actually my first year playing football,” Maldonado admitted. “I felt like last year, (I was) learning technique. Obviously I’m still going to work on technique. That’s a priority.
“This year I just want to get better, like, just overall is how I see it. Just like, overall aggressiveness. I want to get my strength up, and I also want to get bigger, muscle mass.”
As for getting bigger, Maldonado clarified that statement. “I would say legs. That’s probably the main thing I want to work on.”
Before playing football, one of the reasons that Maldonado played left tackle for Lakeland would actually be the game of basketball. Playing hoops allowed Maldonado the opportunity to learn how to move his feet, consistently mind you, in an effort to play defense as well as get open for shots.
“In my junior year, I finally got to football,” the talented left tackle admitted. “I had a lot of fun doing it, and obviously, it was my ticket out. So, I’m taking it. I’m running with it right now.”
Moving towards recruiting, Maldonado provided insight into his situation and why he selected UCF. “Overall, it (my decision) was made just purely on the coaches I’d say. I really like the (UCF) coaching staff. It was my favorite coaching staff I spoke with so far.
“Then, as far as a lot of the schools I was talking to, a lot of the coaches transferred out, stuff like that. It was just making it harder to communicate with them.”
UCF also benefited from a former Lakeland assistant that was named a graduate assistant for the Knights, and he was the Lakeland Offensive Line Coach during the 2020 season.
“Also, as you know, I’m sure, my high school coach is up there (at UCF), too. He taught me everything. He’s the one that really got me into football.”
The coach in question would be Caleb Pickrell. Maldonado continued about Coach Pickrell, “He just recently got a job up there (at UCF).”
As for the schools Maldonado thought about beyond UCF, he provided the following statement. “I would say Iowa State, Virginia Tech, and West Virginia University. I think those were in there (for my commitment).
“Those are the top schools that I took interest in. Yeah, that’s pretty much it. Those are my schools (with the) highest interest (beyond UCF).”
As for new schools coming after Maldonado, his last offer was recent.
“The last offer I got, it was like two weeks ago. FAU, Florida Atlantic University.”
The good news with the Knights is that Maldonado is definitively comfortable with the UCF football program, and he will be taking his official visit this upcoming weekend for Bounce House Weekend.
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