UCF left in lurch after Benjamin's departure


While ESPN 300 wide receiver Richard Benjamin (Tampa, Fla./Tampa Bay Tech) is not likely to make or break a recruiting class, the 6-foot, 190-pound senior's surprising departure from UCF's class does force the Knights to do a little scrambling.

At the end of July the Knights were sitting pretty with Benjamin securely in the fold and seemingly in the lead for ESPN 150 athlete Alvin Bailey. With two ranked four-star playmakers in the same class, the Knights could have been headed to the Big East with some big names.

But as we approach the end of August, things have taken a turn for the worse. First, the UCF program was hit with NCAA sanctions that included a loss of scholarships and any postseason play in 2012. Now Benjamin's decommitment leaves more questions than answers about UCF's 2013 recruiting class.

How does Benjamin's departure affect Bailey? Hard to say. They are friends and played together on Team Tampa. Benjamin was also the most vocal of the UCF commits in lobbying Bailey to join the class. However, it's likely that recent news of Florida offering Bailey is a bigger problem for UCF than Benjamin's departure. Depending on who you ask, Bailey has either already made a silent commitment to Florida or he is UCF's to lose. Bailey is expected to hold firm to his Sept. 1 deadline, which means an announcement is likely to come next week.

If Bailey doesn't commit what's next? If Bailey doesn't choose UCF, the Knights could try to flip ESPN 300 wide receiver Tony Stevens (Orlando, Fla./Evans). Stevens is a soft verbal to Florida State but the depth chart is deep in Tallahassee and could get deeper if the Seminoles land ESPN 150 prospect Stacy Coley. The 6-2, 180-pound Stevens has been looking into taking official visits to Ohio State and South Carolina, but UCF could use the distance factor to lure Stevens should he choose to break from the Seminoles.

While Stevens might be considered a bit of a long shot, Dionte Taylor (Davie, Fla./University School) and James Clark (New Smyrna Beach, Fla./New Smyrna Beach) are also solid options and both players have been to the campus over the summer. The Knights could also target 2014 prospects to make a splash and go after Artavis Scott, who is the teammate of three-star quarterback and UCF commit Pete DiNovo.