NCF On The Trail: UCF Knights

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- It was just two years ago that current Ohio State star freshman Joey Bosa was a top national prospect coming out of St. Thomas Aquinas in Fort Lauderdale.

Now there is another budding star at the high school that produced three 2014 NFL draft picks, and the last name remains the same.

Class of 2016 defensive lineman Nick Bosa has been a standout the past two years for the Raiders, and like many who have come before him at the talent-rich school, he will be a national recruit with a quickly growing offer list.

TAMPA, Fla. -- Two of the top uncommitted quarterbacks remaining in the Class of 2015, Deondre Francois and Lamar Jackson, have many of the same college programs pursuing them.


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Austin King saw the pile and immediately knew something was different about today’s mail. As one of the Georgia’s most heavily recruited quarterbacks, he’s used to getting letters from schools all over the country. But the stack of 100 envelopes addressed to him from South Florida caught his attention.

USF letters
TwitterClass of 2015 signal-caller Austin King received 100 letters at once from South Florida.
As King ripped through envelope after envelope, he discovered this just wasn’t some mass mailing of form letters with a few handwritten notes sprinkled in from a school -- a recruiting tactic used by a number of programs in the past. He knew that this was something different.

“As I opened each letter, I discovered they were 100 hand-written notes with exactly 100 reasons why I should commit to South Florida,” King said. “They’re all handwritten. There’s so many. I haven’t even gotten through all of them yet. It definitely feels great being wanted at a school like this. I'm still in a little bit of a shock."

King isn’t leaning toward a school, but he does have scholarship offers from South Florida, West Virginia, Southern Miss and UCF, among others, with schools such as North Carolina, Mississippi State and Notre Dame showing interest. It’s safe to say he has plenty of reasons now to consider South Florida even more than before.
The Early Offer is RecruitingNation's regular feature, giving you a daily dose of recruiting in the mornings. Today’s offerings: After a few weeks to recover from national signing day, it’s always interesting to analyze the data to get a better understanding of what really happened. To me, there’s no better test of a program’s recruiting momentum than to see how they climbed from one class to another. And programs like Boston College, NC State and Stanford are definitely trending upward.

New to the mix
Boston College, Syracuse and Western Michigan were the three schools you could make a case climbed the most from the 2013 to 2014 recruiting class, especially the Eagles. None of the three programs were ranked in the 2013 top 75, but Boston College climbed all the way to No. 42 overall in 2014. The Eagles' class was headlined by former Rutgers commit and ESPN 300 prospect Jonathan Hilliman, who is expected to have an instant impact at running back. Syracuse (60) and Western Michigan’s (68) entrance into the rankings weren't as high as the Eagles’ but it’s a step in the right direction if you’re a fan of both programs. There are many, including me, that believe the Broncos signed the best class ever in the MAC. Insider

Top-5 climbers


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UCF flips Vanderbilt DB commit 

January, 28, 2014
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After a recent string of negative recruiting news, UCF finally received some good news on Tuesday night.


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Early Offer: Weather causes woes 

January, 28, 2014
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The Early Offer is RecruitingNation's regular feature, giving you a daily dose of recruiting in the mornings. Today’s offerings: Parts of the country that are normally known for their beaches and warm winters are going to get hit by a winter storm Tuesday, which could create for some hassles on the recruiting trail; sometimes it’s best to let coaches know you plan on looking around; and Nebraska fans have complained loudly about some of their recruiting misses, but the Huskers are on a nice roll.


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Hours after top commit Poona Ford decommitted from Louisville, the Cardinals lost another 2014 pledge along the defensive line.

Three-star defensive tackle Chris Nelson (Lakeland, Fla./Victory Christian) is reopening his recruitment, he told ESPN.com in a text message Friday.


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Recruit and return: UCF Knights 

January, 2, 2014
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You won’t find UCF in the top 40 of the class rankings, but the Knights currently rank at No. 6 in the American Athletic Conference rankings. After the Knights’ 52-42 victory over Baylor in the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl, here’s a look at how UCF has done on the recruiting trail and what it will need to do moving forward to capitalize on its BCS win.


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American recruiting class rankings 

October, 16, 2013
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Each Wednesday, ESPN RecruitingNation updates its national class rankings and its conference class rankings.

The American is led by a pair of teams on their way out of the league. Rutgers, who will move to the Big Ten, leads the conference with a class that is headlined by four in-state ESPN 300 prospects. Louisville, who will leave for the ACC, is close behind the Scarlet Knights in both the top 40 and AAC ranks. The USF Bulls, who recently picked up three-star ATH Kendall Sawyer, are at No. 3.

1. Rutgers, 24 commits: The Scarlet Knights sit at No. 18 in the class rankings with a class that includes four ESPN 300 prospects. Rutgers is loading up at the skill positions with wide receivers No. 113 overall Saeed Blacknall (Manalapan, N.J./Manalapan) and No. 136 Adonis Jennings (Erial, N.J./Timber Creek Regional), along with running back and No. 286 Jonathan Hilliman (Jersey City, N.J./Saint Peter's Prep). Three-star playmaker Isaiah McKenzie (Plantation, Fla./American Heritage) and wide Kendrick Edwards (Miami/Norland) are two out of the Sunshine State the Scarlet Knights covet.


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Tall receiver Custis picks Syracuse

September, 9, 2013
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Jamal Custis (Philadelphia/Neumann-Goretti), a 6-foot-5, 210-pound wide receiver, committed to sign with Syracuse, according to multiple reports.

Custis originally announced his decision on Twitter:



Connecticut, Massachusetts, Pittsburgh, Rutgers and UCF also extended scholarship offers to the three-star prospect. Boston College, Indiana, Maryland and West Virginia showed interest.

Syracuse has 12 players on board for 2014.

DT Chris Nelson makes the call

August, 8, 2013
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Highly-coveted defensive tackle Chris Nelson (Lakeland, Fla./Victory Christian Academy) pledged Wednesday to sign with Louisville, according to multiple reports.

Connecticut, Duke, Florida Atlantic, Iowa, Kentucky, Middle Tennessee, Missouri, Nebraska, North Carolina State, Pittsburgh, Purdue, South Alabama, South Florida, UCF, Virginia and Wake Forest also offered.

Nelson, a 6-foot-2, 280-pound three-star prospect, registered 150 total tackles and 10 sacks during his junior campaign.

The Cardinals now have 25 verbals in their Top 25 recruiting class.

ESPN 300 DT Poona Ford commits

August, 7, 2013
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Highly-coveted defensive tackle Poona Ford (Hilton Head, S.C./Hilton Head) pledged to sign with Louisville Tuesday, according to multiple sources.

"I guess I just had a feeling. The feeling you get when you know you're welcome," he told The State. "I went up there for a visit, and they talked to me about coming in my freshman year and playing my very first game at home against Miami."

Ford selected the Cardinals over scholarship offers from Arizona, Arkansas, Boise State, Charlotte, Florida Atlantic, Georgia Tech, Illinois, Kansas State, Marshall, Massachusetts, Missouri, North Carolina State, Ohio State, Oklahoma State, Ole Miss, Purdue, South Carolina, Tennessee, Toledo, UCF and Utah State.

Last fall, the 6-foot, 285-pound four-star terrorized opponents to the tune of 154 total tackles, 44 tackles for loss and 10 sacks.

Ford, ranked No. 275 nationally, is now Louisville's highest-rated defensive pledge. The Cardinals have 24 verbals for 2014.

Four-star Lewis commits to Georgia Tech

August, 4, 2013
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Terrell Lewis (Ocoee, Fla./Ocoee), a high school safety projected to play outside linebacker in college, has pledged to sign with Georgia Tech, according to multiple sources.

Lewis, who did not hold a scholarship offer in mid-March, rapidly ascended on recruiting boards and was sought by several BCS conference programs. UConn, Iowa State, Kentucky, LSU, Miami (Fla.), Nebraska, South Florida, Syracuse, Troy and UCF each pursued the 6-foot-2, 206-pound defender.

Last spring, Lewis posted an electronically timed 4.75 40-yard dash, 4.37 20-yard shuttle, 32.6-inch vertical and 82.35 SPARQ at a Nike event.

The Yellow Jackets now have 15 commitments.

Vandy scores ESPN 300 DB Kyle Gibson

August, 2, 2013
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Four-star safety Kyle Gibson (Seffner, Fla./Armwood) committed Thursday to play in the SEC for Vanderbilt, according to multiple reports. The ESPN 300 prospect, ranked No. 165 nationally, is now the highest-rated 2014 pledge for the Commodores.

Boston College, Florida State, Louisville, Michigan State, Mississippi State, Missouri, NC State, Notre Dame, Ole Miss, South Florida, Tennessee, UCF, UCLA, West Virginia and Wisconsin also offered the 6-foot, 169-pound defensive back.

Gibson registered 74 tackles and 4 interceptions during his junior campaign.

This spring, he posted an electronically timed 4.65 40-yard dash, 4.27 20-yard shuttle, 33.9-inch vertical, 28.5-foot power throw and 80.4 SPARQ at a Nike event.

Vanderbilt now has 18 players committed and the No. 25 class, according to ESPN RecruitingNation.

S Mike Rogers picks UCF, not done yet

August, 2, 2013
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According to the Orlando Sentinel, three-star safety Mike Rogers (Smyrna, Ga./Campbell) has committed to UCF.

"The campus was really nice," he said. "But what called my attention was the coaches and everything and the academics. They were really focused on school work and football. They make sure you get a degree and do something you love at the same time. That caught my attention."

However, Rogers added that he hasn’t completed “shut down” the recruiting process. Charlotte, Cincinnati, Clemson, East Carolina, Georgia Southern, Georgia State, Mississippi State, Missouri, Old Dominion, Ole Miss and Syracuse also offered the 6-foot, 180-pound defender.

He’s the 12th 2014 pledge for the Knights and their top commit on the defensive side of the ball.

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