UCF’s 2007 season ended with the Knights adding their first ever Conference USA title to their trophy case, and appearing in their second bowl game in school history. Several months after a successful 10-4 season, UCF added a very solid recruiting class for the upcoming 2008 season.
However, the fruits of UCF’s success in 2007 appear to be even more prevalent in this upcoming years recruiting class of 2009, as the Knights are capitalizing on their best season ever.
Last year at this time the Knights only had five commits. Chris Wilson would later de-commit and then commit with conference foe Houston. At the time, five commitments that early were considered fantastic, but the Knights have taken it to another level this summer. This year UCF has already gained the verbal commitments of nine athletes; it took till November 29th of last year to receive commitment number nine. The Knights have set their sites on the talent rich Florida, Alabama and Georgia areas and to date, that is where all of UCF’s ’09 class has come from.
Look no further than the program’s most recent commit, Javen Harris, to explain why the Knights have been landing stellar recruits at a record pace.
In an interview with Scout.com’s Andrew Bone, Harris stated, "I have a real good relationship with the coaches especially Coach Collins. The coaches let me know they needed and wanted me. I have a great relationship with the staff. I believe they have the program heading in the right direction."
Harris goes onto state, “I really love the campus. Everything is brand new. They are going to play in Brighthouse Stadium. The players live in condos. The lifestyle is tops in the nation. It makes me feel like a place I can call home.”
This sentiment is a common trend in most players visiting UCF. They don’t appear to be settling on anything, they love the campus and feel like it is a place they can call home with people they can trust. It for these reasons and many more that UCF has had this much success, and appears to be on the right track under Coach O’Leary.
A main reason why Harris and other players the Knights are going after in Alabama have a good relationship with coach Collins is that he recently moved from the University of Alabama, and he has built a good connection with several top recruits in that state, and I Georgia as well. This connection he has built has already paid off with two commits from Alabama (Evan Swindall and Javen Harris), and it doesn’t appear that the Knights are done yet. UCF is targeting the top talent from both states and has already beaten out instate schools such as Auburn and Georgia Tech for player’s services.
In addition to the increase in early recruiting, UCF is also going after bigger recruits in larger volume, and the potential to land a huge four or five star recruit appears to be there. The team has produced top pro talent in recent years and has the look of a major school. Last season, the Knights fell just short of landing arguably the nation’s top cornerback in Brandon Harris. Harris’ last official was to UCF and while he loved his visit, he joined last year’s trend of south Florida talent staying in Miami.
This year, UCF is going after stars like the Seminole trio (Andre Debose, Ray Ray Armstrong and Dyron Dye), five star running back Lamar Miller, and two four star recruits that are teammates of current commits (Jamal Patterson and Rodney Smith).
In an interview with InsideKnights.com, Patterson expressed his interest in the school.
“I visited UCF back in February and I loved it. As soon as we pulled onto University Blvd., I knew it was great. It’s a great program and they have a family bond there.”
Not surprisingly, it appears that a lot of these standouts feel the same way abut UCF as Patterson does, and are seriously considering the Knights. With most of them waiting on their decision, maybe that program defining win is all the Knights will need to have these recruits commit.
No matter what happens with these four or five star guys, look for the Knights to continue to make a big splash in the class of ‘09, as there is still plenty of time between now and national signing day on February 6th.
John Bernstein is a writer for InsideKnights.com, covering the UCF Knights for Scout.com. Feel free to contact him -HERE- with questions or comments.
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