It’s here. Bounce House Weekend has arrived. There will be several class of 2022 prospects that take official visits by coming to Orlando to visit the Knights and gain a firsthand look at what UCF football has to offer, as well as learn about the academics, campus, and student life.
The following list represents an excellent starting point for UCF recruiting, as it’s a collection of top prospects the football coaching staff and football back office administrators, i.e. recruiting staff, have placed a great deal of time on so that these visits take place. One quick note before the actual list.
An official visit means that the recruit’s flight/travel is paid for by a NCAA institution, as well as meals and lodging. An unofficial visitor pays his own way -- for travel, lodging and meals -- while still visiting a school. Each of the following players is an official visitor. To see UCF’s unofficial visitor list for Bounce House Weekend, check out last night’s article with all the details about who’s on campus.
Keep in mind that this list could change at any moment; the list could be bigger or smaller. All prospects below are class of 2022.
**Confirmed official visitor.
The Offensive Prospects
**Thomas Castellanos, QB, Waycross (Ga.) Ware County -- UCF commitment
**Miguel Maldonado, OT, Lakeland (Fla.) High School -- UCF commitment
**Marcus Peterson, WR, Lake City (Fla.) Columbia
Jack Struebing, OL, Springdale (Ark.) Har-Ber
**Thomas Washington, TE, Leesburg (Ga.) Lee County
**Omari Kelly, WR, Trussville (Ala.) Hewitt-Trussville
Tyler Griffin, WR, Brooklet (Ga.) New Southeast Bulloch
The Defensive Prospects
**Jeremiah Alexander, DE, Alabaster (Ala.) Thompson
Micah Pollard, DE, Jacksonville (Fla.) Bartram Trail
**Jamaal Johnson, DE, Hollywood (Fla.) Chaminade-Madonna
**Keahnist Thompson, DE, Lakeland (Fla.) High School
Caden Story, DL, Lanett (Ala.) High School
Malachi Madison, DT, Ellenwood (Ga.) Cedar Grove
Nick Jordan, LB, Louisville (Ga.) Jefferson County
What UCF Football Fans Need to Know
First and foremost, this list is about athleticism, size and potential. To be honest, it’s a list that one would expect to see a program like Alabama, South Carolina, Georgia or Florida bring in for visits.
This is a group that can help change UCF’s trajectory and bring the Knights into the forefront of college football. There is plenty of talent across the board. Perhaps the biggest take away is the defensive front seven talent, an area UCF definitely needs more depth, more speed, and more size.
The UCF coaching staff does its own evaluations and grades prospects accordingly, but finding size is always a key element to building a defense. Take Madison for example. He’s a 6’3”, 310 pound defensive tackle from just outside Atlanta (Ga.). With offers from Virginia Tech (June 4), Pittsburgh (June 25), Mississippi State, Penn State, North Carolina State, Colorado, West Virginia and East Carolina among others, he’s a coveted prospect.
UCF needs that anchor in the middle of the defensive line, and Madison could be that “dude” that stuffs the run and commands double teams while also pushing the pocket into the quarterback’s face. Without a player like Madison, it’s difficult to win big in college football, UCF or otherwise. That's the type of talent that's on the official visitor list, from top to bottom. Here’s the run down of the remaining official visitors.
The two committed prospects -- Castellanos and Maldonado -- are locked in with the Knights. One could argue that Castellanos is the most important recruit for this class, and UCF Head Coach Gus Malzahn’s tenure. He’s the perfect fit for Coach Malzahn’s passing spread with his ability to move the chains with his legs or his arm. He’s also a leader.
Maldonado is an example of UCF coaches making their own evaluations. Maldonado is a basketball player turned gridiron mauler. At 6’6”, 325 pounds, he’s light on his feet, allowing him to play well in space as well as in the box.
Peterson is a big-play wide receiver that physically overwhelms many defensive backs. After seeing Peterson play live twice, make no mistake, this is a young man that can play early for UCF if he decides to come to Orlando. He’s a big-time basketball player as well, with the ability to sky for a dunk or jump ball in the back of the end zone. At 6’4”, 180 pounds, Peterson’s body is still filling out as well. He has offers from across the SEC and the nation. He’s an elite talent. Peterson visited Pittsburgh (June 4) already, and is undecided about his visits following his trek to UCF.
Struebing is an interior offensive line prospect from Springdale, Ark., the same town that Coach Malzahn once coached high school football. It’s always nice to have roots in a location where there are talented prospects.
With Washington, he’s that flex tight end that can dominate a one-on-one matchup down the field, or be the safety valve for a quarterback and make a play happen after a three-yard pass. He’s the definition of the modern tight end.
Another contemporary player would be Kelly. He plays both sides of the football Hewitt-Trussville, and could play either once he reaches the collegiate level. Kelly’s film provides insight into just how natural a runner he is with a smooth gate, but he also plays a physical brand of football. He’s being recruited nationally and UCF will be battling programs from across the SEC, ACC, Big 10 and Notre Dame for his services.
Griffin is another big wide receiver like Peterson. At 6’5” and 200 pounds, he’s a high flyer on the basketball court, as the basketball film link below will display (well worth your time), and he’s a problem for defensive backs because he’s tall and rangy. This is a player with tremendous upside. UCF will once again battle numerous programs for this prospect.
Moving strictly to the defensive side of the football, Alexander is the quintessential pass rusher. Twitchy, powerful, and fast, he explodes off the snap of the football and beats offensive tackles with speed and moves. He’s a legitimate five-star talent, and the Knights will roll out the red carpet for the Thompson High School talent. It will be quite interesting to see what Alexander thinks of UCF after being ardently recruited by SEC schools like Alabama and Auburn.
Pollard, Johnson and Thompson can all come off the edge as well, and all hail from Florida. Pollard is a potential outside linebacker for any 3-4 or 3-3-5 look the Knights might employ, and he’s really quick off the edge like Alexander.
Johnson brings more power to the gridiron, and he’s capable of dipping low and bending to come off the edge and rush the passer. One of South Florida’s top defensive ends, Johnson is a player that’s very interested in UCF. The Knights may even be his leader. When Inside The Knights asked Johnson about visits after UCF Bounce House Weekend, he replied, “Still in the process of figuring it out.” Perhaps the Knights will officially pull ahead for Johnson’s services this weekend.
Thompson is another Lakeland High School prospect with a lot of promise. Really quick and capable of beating offensive linemen off the snap of the football, he’s a versatile defensive end. While also using power through his hands and hips to shock offensive linemen, Thompson often blows by opposing blockers with quickness and flexibility. Florida, Miami, Alabama, and many other programs already offered as well, but the Knights will receive his first official visit.
Next up, Story is a combination defensive lineman. He could play strong side defensive end, but he’s also a good bet to end up at defensive tackle. Much like the majority of UCF’s top defensive line prospects, with Story, it’s about quickness and explosiveness off the snap of the football. He’s another national recruit and offers from Alabama, Texas A&M, and a host of other programs display his talent level.
The aforementioned Madison is the anchor of Bounce House Weekend’s official visitors. He’s a powerful young man that will likely command double teams in college. It’s just hard to find players with his size and athleticism in one package.
Finally, Jordan is another linebacker that can play downhill or cover a shifty athlete in space. Playing in Central Georgia, he’s not as well known as some other Georgia linebackers, but UCF liked what it saw on film and that’s why he’s in Orlando this weekend. Jordan’s prime asset: speed. He’s a player with a high ceiling and is much capable of playing the hybrid linebacker-safety position or moving to weak side linebacker in college.
UCF football is bringing in official visitors for its first big recruiting weekend of the Coach Malzahn era, and it’s a special group. There are national recruits as well as prospects that the UCF coaching staff really likes despite being under the radar. Should be a great weekend for UCF football.
There are several more UCF football recruiting articles posted on the front page of Inside The Knights, so be sure to check them out. Additionally, there will be numerous Twitter posts from the two accounts below detailing UCF recruits all weekend. Make sure to follow both accounts.