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Defining UCF and its Recruiting Strategy: Development Helped Build the UCF Football Program - Part I

A closer look at the overall landscape of where UCF currently sits in the recruiting rankings, understanding what the recruiting rankings actually mean, recruiting trends, and defining a developmental football program.

There are many ways to evaluate a recruiting class. Top-notch players, meeting needs, and recruiting balance are generally three areas to watch. Gaining an inside perspective about what a program needs to do to win big is still subjective and based differently for every Division I college football program.

The UCF Football program is one of the most diverse and unique recruiting organizations in all of college football. Here’s a look at recruiting rankings and a closer evaluation of UCF’s recruiting efforts to better understand what the Knights do to recruit compared to other notable programs.

UCF Knights and the Recruiting Rankings

Current 2022 Rankings: 247 Ranking: 58; Rivals Ranking: 58; SI All-American: N/A

The current rankings resemble what UCF Football does during most years: hover near No. 60 overall. It’s still a long way to go for the class of 2022, however, and there’s a definitive change to how recruiting works due to the transfer portal. Thus, how the Knights are ranked and how it translates to wins and loses does not really come together. Here’s a recent article about that particular topic: Food for Thought: How to Evaluate and Rank UCF Football Recruiting. Before delving into more information about how to rank the Knights’ recruiting efforts, here’s a look at a recruit that exemplifies UCF recruiting during the past ten years.

Latest Commitment: From nearby Sanford (Fla.) Seminole, the Knights hauled in Kameron Moore, a speedy linebacker that will move around and play multiple roles for the UCF defense. Moore’s ability to play in coverage physically speaking, as well as understanding where he and other defensive players need to be, make him a unique prospect. While undersized at 6’0”, 205-pounds, Moore covers a lot of ground and plays the full width of the football field. He’s one of the most undervalued players not only in the state of Florida, but in the country.

After watching Moore play again this past Thursday when Seminole traveled to Orlando (Fla.) Jones and played in the kickoff classic, Moore continued to be an all-around player. He deflected a screen pass, covered wide receivers like a defensive back instead of a linebacker, and with his instincts and speed he stayed active inside the tackle box by making blockers miss before bringing down a ball carrier.

Understanding UCF’s Current and Future Recruiting Rankings

As each recruiting class moves forward under the direction of UCF Football Head Coach Gus Malzahn, the Knights will improve their so-called recruiting ranking, but it’s just not going to be an apples to apples comparison like it used to be. There are numerous programs that do not take many transfers, then other programs that do.

Recruiting rankings are primarily about high school players, and the programs that sign primarily high school recruits are rewarded with high recruiting rankings. When talking about organizations like Rivals.com or 247sports.com, that’s something to be mindful of when making a realistic judgment of how UCF recruits compared to say Texas or North Carolina or Oregon.

All of those programs can live off of nothing more than high school recruits and have very good rosters, which is fine. UCF, meanwhile, simply does it differently. To date, there’s no ranking system that adjusts for the way the Knights recruit a combination of high school players mixed with several college transfers. It’s unfortunate but true.

Current UCF Recruiting Strategy and News

Nothing really new to report in terms of what the Knights need to do differently. Just stay the course. Evaluate the players, make in-house recruiting assessments, and finally bring in players with the talent to raise the overall level of the UCF Football program. It’s worked up until this point, so keep pushing on the flywheel.

As for news, there’s the situation with quarterback Joey Gatewood, and he’s a microcosm of what UCF can be with good roster management. Take several talented high school players within each recruiting class, but leave room for several transfer portal options before signing day and after signing day as well.

Developmental Players are the Backbone of UCF Football

All of that is cliche and still 100% true. UCF is not going to consistently go out and sign the same players that Texas A&M wants, or Clemson, or Notre Dame. It’s just not. The Knights certainly offered several top-notch prospects, and it’s hard to say where many of them will actually sign (regardless of current commitment status). At the end of the day, UCF is still predominantly a developmental program until otherwise proven.

Yes, there are recruits such as defensive end Keahnist Thompson from Lakeland (Fla.) High School and Nikai Martinez from Apopka (Fla.) High School that earned a plethora of big-time offers. That’s a really good step in the right direction. Overall, however, UCF continues to sign players with upside first and foremost.

Signing talented prospects with upside is the quick answer for what a developmental program means. Now, there still needs to be some instant impact players, and that’s improved as noted above, but going in-depth about how and when UCF transitions into that type of program is a topic for another story. Here’s what those “upside” prospects need to do to be really good players for the Knights.

Tomorrow will be a look at how UCF Football came to be a really good college football program, what other programs do within recruiting, and how the Knights can reach elite recruiting status.

For UCF insights, college football news, and recruiting information go to my YouTube Channel, Podcast, and Instagram. Like and Subscribe!

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