Why doesn’t UCF recruit more Orlando players?
Well, UCF does recruit them. The Knights just don’t sign them; and until there is a breakthrough, it’s going to remain difficult to keep kids at home.
The recruiting class of 2014 could be different.
If the Knights can land three or even all four of the Orlando players atop their 2014 board — Lake Nona WR Ryan Sousa, Oviedo WR Chris Davis Jr., Ocoee DB-LB Terrell Lewis and Dr. Phillips DB Davin Pierce — the coup could have a huge trickle-down effect.
The Knights were almost there with the class of 2012. Edgewater’s Alton “Pig’’ Howard and Karl Joseph were all but delivered and Winter Park’s D’vario Montgomery looked to be leaning. Others may have followed.
Then came an NCAA investigation that resulted in the firing of Knights’ top recruiter and receivers coach David Kelly. To this day, Kelly maintains his innocence. He has a valid argument. While Kelly is still trying to get back into college football, Howard is playing at Tennessee, Joseph at West Virginia and Montgomery at USF.
The Knights did sign Agape Christian WR Drico Johnson in 2012, but one player does not make an impact. UCF needs a class of Orlando recruits that is going to have a big-bang effect or it won’t matter.
Sousa, Davis, Lewis and Pierce would be those types of players. Sousa, ranked No. 2 in the Sentinel’s 2014 Central Florida Super60, would be the biggest catch. He will be at Will Muschamp’s camp in Gainesville today. If UF offers him a scholarship, that could be it for UCF.
It’s like waving a $10-dollar bill in a kid’s face and then someone comes in and flashes a crisp, new Ben Franklin $100. What would you do? I thought so. (Pardon the monetary analogy. Schools do not wave money, right?)
Sousa has people waving all kinds of offers. He leads all Central Florida players with 32 scholarship offers from Football Bowl Subdivision schools. His best offers for his skill set are from Missouri and Kentucky, a pair of teams that will throw the ball around.
The Tigers rate high with the 6-foot-1, 180-pound playmaker.
“I feel every opportunity I get is a blessing and UCF recruiting me is a great opportunity for me,” Sousa said. “It could be Tulane or any other school and I will still feel it’s a huge blessing and it’s a great opportunity I have to be recruited by a great school such as UCF.”
(Side note: Sousa will be running for office one day ... or he should. He’s wise beyond his carefully selected words.)
Davis, ranked No. 12, has UCF as his leader. It will take a strong recruiting effort from another upper-level school to derail the Oviedo quarterback from becoming a receiver at UCF, which is only a few miles from Davis’ Oviedo home.
Lewis, ranked No. 16, says he’s wide open, but he speaks highly of UCF.
“That’s a huge deal,” Lewis said of the UCF offer. “That’s right around the corner and family is a big deal to me. ... Letting them see me play would be a really big deal. UCF is a program on the rise, so it’s definitely a good place to go.”
There won’t be many more offers going out for the 2014 class. UCF is limited this year due to NCAA sanctions and will likely sign 12 to 15 players. UCF also only has seven scholarship seniors, so that, too, limits the number. UCF currently has three 2014 commitments.
Pierce has yet to be offered a scholarship, but UCF is close to pulling the trigger.
“I’ve been talking with UCF and yeah, if they offered me that would be pretty big,” said Pierce, the No. 25 player in the Super60. He has seven offers, including Louisville and West Virginia. “I wouldn’t say it would put them ahead of the rest, but that would put them right there in the mix because one of my big things is I want my family and friends to be able to come see me play.”
And that’s one thing UCF has over all the rest.
- Kissimmee Osceola 2015 LB Riley Nicholson picked up his second scholarship from a Football Bowl Subdivision school on Saturday when South Alabama offered him after a camp he attended in Mobile. He also has an offer from Minnesota.
- Orlando First Academy 2014 OL Chris Miller picked up his third FBS offer and first from a Florida school when he received an offer from FIU while at a Tampa camp hosted by Panthers coaches.
- Orlando Freedom 2014 CB Jay Maduro competed at the Blue-Grey Nation Super Combine in Foxboro, Mass., over the weekend after being selected from a regional competition in Tampa where he earned the Defensive Back MVP. "I feel great about the whole experience because I got to compete against some talented DBs from all over ... Texas, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania ... and I went out and gave 100 percent in all the events," Mduro said. "The highlight was 7on7. I had the mindset to dominate and overall I did good at the combine. I feel good about myself."
Chris Hays is the Sentinel's recruiting coverage coordinator and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow us on Twitter at @Os_Recruiting and Facebook at Orlando Sentinel Recruiting and now on Pinterest at Orlando Recruiting.