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Will UCF be Recruiting Florida's Orlando Commitments?

Dan Mullen is out at Florida, and that means UCF has a chance to sign some of its Central Florida recruits.

ORLANDO - With the 2021 football season coming to an end, recruiting is returning to the center stage of college football fans’ minds. That’s especially true for people following recruiting in the state of Florida, as the University of Florida chose to fire former head coach Dan Mullen after a 24-23 loss to the University of Missouri.

That’s made attempting to flip the commitments of Florida’s current class an easier and more realistic target. One school that could look to take advantage of this is UCF, as three high profile commits reside within the Orlando-Metro area. Those three players are Bishop Moore wide receiver Chandler Smith, West Orange wide receiver Jayden Gibson, and Winter Park running back Terrance Gibbs.

Leading the recruiting charge, for recruits at least, is Apopka cornerback Nikai Martinez, who immediately after the news of Mullen’s departure took place created an Instagram story tagging the three players.

So just who are these athletes and how could they improve an already star studded class?

Chandler Smith

An elite speed threat for Orlando’s Bishop Moore Catholic, Smith stands at an impressive 6’3, 180 pounds for someone who runs the 100 meter dash in just 10.28 seconds. He’s won state titles in the 100 and 200. Smith is an explosive weapon, putting up 142 yards on just 11 touches in his two games this season, before sitting out to heal a meniscus injury.

The track star has said that track is an extremely important piece of his decision on a university and was crucial in his choice of Florida. However, with the recent pedigree of sending UCF wide receivers to the NFL, Head Coach Gus Malzahn may be able to sway Smith’s decision to stay home and run college track as an independent athlete.

Jayden Gibson

A long and athletic target for West Orange High School on the northwest edge of Orlando, Gibson would give UCF quarterbacks a mismatch and opposing defensive backs nightmares anytime he steps onto the field. Despite standing at 6’5 and 180 pounds, he still has the speed and route running abilities to separate from defensive backs.

In a way he’s very similar to former UCF wide receiver and current Los Angeles Rams tight end Jacob Harris, but more refined as he’s played football for a significantly longer time.

Gibson might also be a hard sell for Malzahn and his staff as his father and uncle both played at Florida, and he grew up as a fan of the Gators. However, with 1,587 all purpose yards and 23 total touchdowns, including one interception return, Gibson is a must target player. Malzahn and his staff will need to work fast to get him on campus for a visit potentially in the upcoming “War on I4” game against the University of South Florida.

Terrance Gibbs

Gibbs is actually even more local than just being in the heart of Orlando as the majority of his high school production came while he was attending The Master’s Academy in Oviedo, Fla., just under five miles away from the UCF campus. However, before his junior season he transferred to Winter Park High School were he tore his ACL and has been recovering ever since, only playing in three games.

As a freshman he was elite, scoring 21 touchdowns and averaging 11.1 yards per carry, earning himself Freshman All-American honors from high school sports information company MaxPreps. Gibbs would be a huge weapon for UCF if he can stay healthy and get back to his freshman and sophomore form. He’d pair nicely alongside UCF running back commit Jordan McDonald, as a thunder and lightning style duo.

It’s hard to say just how hard the Knights will go after any of these three prospects, or just how receptive they might be to UCF’s overtures. One can be assured that UCF will explore its options with Smith, Gibson and Gibbs, as well as commitments from other programs, too.

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