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The UCF coaching staff have spent years and months planning, and by noon UCF head coach George O'Leary had locked in 17 players on National Signing Day — with just four hailing from Florida.

"I would say this class is probably the most talented class of the one's since I've been here," O'Leary said. "I thought the coaches did an outstanding job, as far as filling the needs [and] filling the voids that we had to fill."

The UCF brand has grown in the past few seasons and O'Leary partially credited the school's transition into the American Athletic Conference as a key factor for putting the program on players' radars.

The Knights were able to land multiple standout targets who held offers from national powers such as Georgia, Ohio State and Florida State.

"I think what helped deliver them is the exposure we've gotten on national TV. I think that's where the American Conference has really helped us," O'Leary said.

With 13 recruits coming from out of state, selling the campus was crucial. Many of the recruits had never been to UCF prior to the start of their recruitment, and the staff found it to be a pretty big hit with potential players.

"The campus sells itself," O'Leary said. "Facility wise, building wise and everything else. It's sort of a 'wow' factor, especially if they haven't been here before."

After receiving 29 offers from Division I football programs, including state schools such as Florida, Florida State and Miami, cornerback Rashard Causey chose to honor his commitment to UCF, and is one of just two defensive backs in the class.

"We had to get help in the corner position with Jacoby [Glenn] leaving early [to declare for the NFL draft]. That was unexpected," O'Leary said. "We've done a good job of identifying and securing."

Tristan Payton, a wide receiver out of Jacksonville, made UCF his official destination a few hours into Signing Day. He is a four-star recruit, ranked No. 14 among wide receivers and No. 142 overall in the nation, according to Rivals.com.

Payton had previously committed to Florida and University of Southern California before switching to UCF two weeks ago.

"I like his personality. He's very alive and I think he's a competitor," O'Leary said. "He's a playmaker."

Quintin Hampton, a three-star linebacker out of Moultrie, Georgia, proved loyal for much of the recruiting season, and often took to Twitter to try to sway more players into the recruiting class.

"Certain guys you say, 'He's probably going to be a leader.' He's probably one that's going to be," O'Leary said of Hampton. "He's a solid individual."

After Blake Bortles departed UCF as the No. 3 overall pick in the 2014 NFL draft, sophomore Justin Holman took the reins. Bo Schneider, a signee out of Dallas and No. 25 ranked quarterback in the class, according to Rivals.com, may have what it takes to become Holman's predecessor when the time comes.

"I think he's a great competitor, which is what I look at in quarterbacks. They've got to be able to throw the ball, obviously, but the character [is huge]," O'Leary said. "[He's a] talented, talented youngster, and what I like about him is his demeanor."

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Jarrod Heil is a Senior Staff Writer for the Central Florida Future. Find him on Twitter @JHeil11.

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