Breaking Down UCF Football's 2022 and 2023 Recruiting Situation

The Knights must balance scholarship numbers with the ability to fill needs within the class of 2022. That also impacts how the Knights recruit for the class of 2023.
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ORLANDO - UCF Football already received 12 verbal commitments for the class of 2022. There’s room for more prospects to jump onboard with the Knights, but scholarship space should be considered limited.

The NCAA mandated that FBS programs return to the normal allotment of 85 scholarship players for the 2022 season. That means the 2022 recruiting class will likely be a little bit smaller than normal.

For the 2020 season, the NCAA allowed for unlimited scholarships due to COVID-19. As college football moves forward towards the 2022 season, those extra scholarships must now come back down to its normal level before starting the 2022 season.

Here’s a much more detailed overview of the Knights’ 2022 recruiting class, as well as thoughts about the transfer portal and the class of 2023 before going into a few more points and scenarios to consider within the written article:

Did You Know?

From the 12 commitments, nine of those prospects hail from Florida. UCF Head Coach Gus Malzahn stated when he took over that Florida recruiting would be a priority. He proved his statement to be true less than six months into his UCF tenure, while still recruiting more Florida prospects for the class of 2022 and beyond.

Look for the Knights to continue to recruit Florida hard. There are several 2022 and 2023 Sunshine State recruits interested in the Knights. From one recruiting class to the next, it’s likely that UCF will sign 10 or more Florida high school prospects per recruiting class.

Offensive and Defensive Balance

From the 2022 class, seven project to the offensive side of the football and five to the defensive side of the football. Looking closer, the position breakdown looks like this:

QB - 1

WR - 2

TE - 1

OL - 3

DE - 2

LB - 2

CB - 1

Making an Impact

It can be difficult to figure out which recruits will make the biggest first-year contribution to a college football program. One concept does not change, however, and that’s the need for cornerbacks and defensive ends.

Apopka (Fla.) High School cornerback Nikai Martinez could play early for the Knights. He’s a savvy player that’s accustomed to being in the spotlight for one of Florida’s best prep programs. He could play nickel corner in addition to being a traditional cornerback. Do not count out playing safety either.

At defensive end, Jamaal Johnson and Keahnist Thompson also play for big-time Florida high school programs. Johnson for Hollywood (Fla.) Chaminade-Madonna and Thompson for Lakeland (Fla.) High School.

Keahnist Thompson, Defensive End, Lakeland (Fla.) High School - Aug. 27, 2021 versus Clearwater

Lakeland defensive end Keahnist Thompson could make an early impact for the Knights.

Each player will be prepared to go up against college competition much earlier thanks in large part to the high school programs they play with, as well as the competition each program plays against.

All three of these young men play premium positions that each FBS program needs to sign several of each year despite there being fewer of them than most other positions. This is especially true for cornerback, so watch out for Martinez to play early because it's just hard to find gifted cornerbacks that also possess the skill to accept the bright lights of college football at an early age.

There could also be other freshmen who make an impact. Again, it’s hard to project.

UCF Found its Signal Caller

While many might know Thomas Castellanos as a cornerback, the Knights like his skills for being the man behind center. He’s a dual-threat quarterback with the arm strength to make difficult passes and the wherewithal to escape pressure and still make a pass while running.

Thomas Castellanos

Thomas Castellanos, from this past seven-on-seven season, when he played for Tight Action.

As the Knights move forward under Coach Malzahn, there needed to be a truly athletically gifted signal caller come into the program that the UCF offensive coaching staff could groom for future playing time. Castellanos fits that profile well.

What’s Left for 2022?

The scholarship situation depends on transfers and which players declare for the NFL Draft. Look for the Knights to sign at least 15 high school prospects while also leaving room for at least a few players to come to UCF from the transfer portal.

2023 Recruiting Already Started

The Knights long since began recruiting the class of 2023. It’s been a priority, in fact. UCF wanted to make inroads with top prospects across Florida, as well as some specific areas across the Deep South in an effort to get a better idea of which recruits they will attempt to sign.

As noted above, however, look for the 2023 class to be top heavy with Floridians. The state of Florida will be the priority moving forward because there’s so much talent right here in the Sunshine State.

For UCF insights, college football news, and recruiting information go to: The Daily Knight podcast; it will be found on iTunes and Spotify. For Twitter, @fbscout_florida and @UCF_FanNation, as well as my YouTube Channel and Instagram page. Like and Subscribe!

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