On Wednesday, the UCF Football program had already secured its best recruiting class in school history.
Come Friday, that class got even better.
The Knights received letters of intent from four-star linebacker Leilon Willingham and three-star wideout Rayshon Williams on Thursday. On Friday, UCF picked up the star of its recruiting class, Seneca High quarterback DaMarcus Smith, a four-star recruit that was rated the No. 11 dual-threat QB in the country.
Do keep in mind that those stars down always mean everything. Former UCF stars Torrell Troup, Bruce Miller, Jah Reid, Derrick Hallman, Kevin Smith, Kyle Israel, Joe Burnett, Pat Brown and Jamar Newsome were all two-star prospects according to Rivals coming out of high school.
With that being said, here’s the breakdown with grades for the 2011 recruiting class position by position:
Quarterback – A
On Wednesday, I had this group rated as an “F”. With Rob Calabrese moving to wide receiver and L.D. Crow electing to transfer, UCF has just two quarterbacks on the roster, sophomore Jeffrey Godfrey and redshirt freshman Blake Bortles. Now, they add not only another body in the depth chart, but one of the most electrifying players coming out of high school in Smith. In his senior season, he passed for 3,150 yards and 30 touchdowns while tossing just nine interceptions and he’s amassed over 8,000 yards passing in his high school career. Both Smith and Godfrey are similar quarterbacks in the way they play the game, although Godfrey is more elusive. Worst possible scenario is both quarterbacks push each other during spring practice. Head coach George O’Leary is known for running a two-quarterback system, but whether that second QB will be Bortles or Smith will be decided in camp. Oh, and Godfrey won’t be changing positions to WR like this story said. He’s the starting quarterback of the team unless Smith literally yanks the job out of his hands.
Running back – C
With the emergence of Conference USA Championship and Autozone Liberty Bowl MVP Latavious Murray this season, there really wasn’t a need at running back this offseason. Oh and by the way, UCF was without 2009 C-USA Freshman of the Year Brynn Harvey for the entire season last year. With that, the Knights still went out and grabbed Cedric Thompson out of Everglades High School in Miramar, Fla. The 6-foot, 207-pound back was rated a two-star from both ESPN and Rivals after rushing for 80 yards with 16 touchdowns on 166 carries during his senior year. Thompson will join Brendan Kelly, Jeff Brinson and Ronnie Weaver in the backfield behind both Murray and Harvey. Look for him to get some looks in spring, but he probably won’t see significant time next season.
Fullback – INC.
UCF didn’t go after a fullback, which they surly could have used with the loss of Ricky Kay. Look for O’Leary to possibly move one of the bigger backs to the blocking fullback position.
Wide Receiver – B+
With the loss of Kamar Aiken, Brian Watters and Jamar Newsome to graduation, receiver was a major hole to fill on the roster. UCF went out and filled those gaps nicely, highlighted by the signing of Williams — cousin of former UCF star Brandon Marshall — and Kathleen High grad Jacques Mackeroy. Williams recorded 71 catches for 909 yards and eight receiving touchdowns as a senior while Mackeroy is a speedster. UCF also went out and got Rannell Hall — nicknamed “speedy” — out of Carol City High and Breshad Perriman, son of former NFL receiver Brett Perriman. Overall, the Knights secured a talent that can’t be taught — speed. These newcomers, combined with Joshua Reese and Quincy McDuffie will give the offense a ton of weapons to work with.
Tight End – C+
Adam Nissley held the spot at tight end last season and he’ll be there for his senior season in 2011, but the Knights went out and got two out-of-state players to help add depth. Both signees, Justin Tukes and Kevin Miller, are physical ends — weighing above 230 — and will be crucial in the blocking game. As a senior, Miller had 25 receptions, 550 yards receiving and eight touchdowns en route to first team all-conference, all-county, All-South Jersey and all-state. I wouldn’t be surprised if he was used opposite Nissley in the offense.
Offensive Line – INC.
UCF lost a big void in NFL prospect Jah Reid to graduation, but they have a wealth of experience coming back next season, which meant O’Leary wanted to go a different route in recruiting. UCF will be fine next season on the line, but look for 2010 to be a big recruiting pitch to offensive lineman to beef up the line.
COMING TUESDAY: GRADING THE DEFENSE
NOTE: Tune in to Ryan’s radio show, The Sports Report, tomorrow from 4-6 p.m. to hear a breakdown of UCF’s recruiting class, reactions from Super Bowl 45 and a possible interview with former Knight and newest Super Bowl champion Atari Bigby!