Knights ink 2012 recruiting class during National Signing Day
Published: Wednesday, February 1, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, February 1, 2012 17:02
In some cases on Wednesday, the UCF Knights got their man.
That was true for some cases, though, but not for all.
An eventful National Signing Day saw the Knights ink a class of 19 incoming players, of which 13 hail from Florida. It was a class that did address some of UCF's needs, but also saw one high-profile recruit flip on the Knights Wednesday morning.
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Alabama quarterback Jonathan Wallace, who had previously committed to UCF, had a change of heart and signed with Auburn instead. The blow left the Knights reeling, and the program tried to steal a recruit of its own, Memphis-commit Paxton Lynch, another quarterback, but Lynch ultimately elected to stay true to his commitment to the Tigers.
"I wanted to sign 21 to 22 players today, and we lost a couple players to the SEC," head coach George O'Leary said. "A quarterback from Phenix City, [Ala.], Jonathan Wallace, was a surprise this morning going to Auburn."
UCF also lost out on some of its prime targets. Linebacker Harding Harper chose Vanderbilt over the Knights, and Beau Hankins signed with Georgia Tech. O'Leary, though, said that overall he was happy with his class and that he doesn't look too heavily into the ratings of sites like Rivals and MaxPreps.
"I don't get involved in stars and all of that, but I do get involved in tape and guys that can commit and help us win," O'Leary said.
O'Leary went a step further in defending his class and the way his staff recruited, saying that in his opinion high-profile recruits are often overrated.
"If you go back and look at the history on them, all of these four-star and five-star guys, they're working somewhere at McDonald's [now]," O'Leary said.
UCF did notch some notable pickups that addressed some key needs, including transfer-quarterback Tyler Gabbert, who committed to the Knights before he sent in his letter of intent Wednesday. Other important pickups included wide receiver Drico Johnson, offensive/defensive lineman Chester Brown and wide receiver Dareen Owi from Miami.
The signing of Owi is of particular importance because of where he is from. The departure of former wide receivers coach David Kelly and quarterback Jeff Godfrey led many to believe that recruiting in South Florida, a hotbed of talented players, would be adversely affected as a result.
O'Leary said the most important thing his program did on Wednesday was address needs moving forward.
"I think with every recruiting class you start off with what your needs are," O'Leary said.
"We fulfilled our needs."