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UCF Football Recruiting and the Transfer Portal

Balancing the recruitment of high school players and taking players from the transfer portal will be pivotal for UCF.

ORLANDO - So what should the coaching staff for the Knights do? Take more experienced players that started off someplace else, or go with the traditional high school recruiting route?

Well, of course, that depends on the player(s) in question. If it’s someone like Peter Woods, the big-time defensive lineman that dominated last night’s 7A Alabama State Title Game, it’s an easy choice. He’s a future NFL player, and one that UCF has recruited hard since Head Coach Gus Malzahn came to Orlando.

So, after examining the evidence, albeit limited since the transfer portal really went into high gear by allowing players immediate eligibility once they transfer, here are some thoughts on what the Knights should do.

Transfers Over High School Players?

This is a work in progress. Each transfer needs to be vetted properly to make sure it happens. There are going to be many bridges burned by college coaches around the country because of the transfer portal. Scouts across the country are seeing their inboxes flooded (yours truly included) from high school coaches and recruits alike because they are so confused as to why top prospects are not being offered by UCF and other programs.

It’s because of the transfer portal.

When they are told why, just know that the news is not met with positivity, UCF included. There have been several not-so-positive comments about UCF and many other programs waiting on the portal to this scout’s inbox.

To that point, some of these players are simply not at the level necessary to be offered by UCF, while others are not good enough. Not all of them fit that category though, and one must understand that fair or not those same coaches and recruits communicate with other top recruits. It’s touchy.

College programs, UCF included, are waiting to see which players enter the portal and it could cost them in the long run. It’s a high risk maneuver on many fronts, but for the purposes of this article all UCF fans need to hope that UCF makes the right choices this year to set up a good trend. Hard to know what’s happening behind the scenes, however.

Unlike traditional recruiting, it’s not like a reporter can pick up a cell phone and just call a player that’s currently enrolled at say Mississippi State or Baylor and find out what’s going on. Once in college, there are totally different guidelines for calling a player.

Therefore, it’s a total guessing game for fans as to what UCF (or any other program) will be receiving when a player transfers. That also impacts high school coaches.

See current Miami Head Coach Manny Diaz as someone that’s totally ticked off several coaches in his area, as the Hurricanes raided the portal this last year and now none of the local coaches are sending players to Miami. The Hurricanes literally do not have a single high school recruit from the greater Miami or Fort Lauderdale areas committed.


Think again. He’s not a great head coach and that’s obvious, but that area is very prideful about the local talent, and it should be because Miami and Fort Lauderdale are loaded with talent. Coach Diaz is undoubtedly getting blackballed not just because he’s a mediocre head coach, but because he passed on 2020 recruits in the Miami area; make no mistake about it.

UCF has hammered the local high schools in Central Florida, so for now it’s going well. That could change if the Knights dip into the portal more often than what the high school coaches believe UCF should do. That’s right, the only opinions that matter are those at the high school level. Recruiting is all about relationships, and they can come to an end rather quickly.

It’s a delicate balance between the portal and continuing to bring in top prospects. It’s something that Inside The Knights will be tracking closely.

Elite Talent

The biggest need for UCF to build its Football brand would be adding a few more truly elite (think NFL) players to the 2022 roster. Players on the level of Isaiah Bowser, for instance.

Whether the Knights add a few more high school and/or players from the portal that fit that criteria, it’s fine either way. As it relates to the category above, elite players will not be looked at in a negative light nearly as often by high school coaches as a so-called role player. Big difference. Keep that in mind.

Finding the Right Fit

Forget where the player comes from for a moment, and realize that Coach Malzahn wants to build a culture at UCF. Does the young man fit into the program? That’s as simple as it can be stated.

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Portal or high school player, each one that signs on the dotted line with UCF needs to do so with the right mindset. This year’s 2021 group of Knights blended together quite well considering the circumstances (injuries in particular), and that’s needed moving forward as well.

Final Thoughts

We are less than two weeks from national signing day. How many high school players the Knights sign will be telling about expectations for the transfer portal. It’s also an interesting trend that UCF needs to adjust to each and every recruiting cycle.

If the Knights play their cards correctly, it could be a reason for additional success on the gridiron. If not handled properly, however, there could be repercussions at the high school level.

For UCF coverage and recruiting information go to: The Daily Knight podcast. For more college football, UCF and recruiting information, go to Twitter: @fbscout_florida and @UCF_FanNation, as well as my YouTube Channel and Instagram page. Like and Subscribe!

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