ORLANDO – Central Florida has built an on-campus stadium, played in bowl games and ballooned into the state’s largest university (about 53,000 students). Now it’s starting to see the results.
UCF swiped three touted recruits Wednesday, which coach George O’Leary said demonstrated the school’s rapid rise.
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“The more and more you travel this state, the more I see UCF sweatshirts and license plates,” O’Leary said. “So I think it’s hard to have a school this size not take off and really dominate in a lot of areas.”
Biggest coups: Miami Central QB Jeffrey Godfrey was the state’s Class 6A player of the year.
And the Knights received late letters of intent from offensive lineman Torrian Wilson of Miami Northwestern and receiver Jordan Akins of McDonough (Ga.) Union Grove.
Wilson was an Under Armour All-American who orally committed to Louisville and had offers from Alabama and Michigan. Akins, meanwhile, provided the most pride from O’Leary.
“I’ve been to the school in Georgia. It’s pretty much a Bulldogs school; black and red colors,” he said. “I have great respect for that youngster for standing up to the pressure that they were putting on him.”
Hat trick: Miami Central OL/DL Jose Jose, who had orally committed to USF, signed with UCF.
As of 9:50 a.m., Central coach Telley Lockett said Jose is “walking around with a South Florida hat on.” But O’Leary was thrilled to get him, saying on the school’s Twitter feed Jose reminds him of UCF’s current NFL prospect, Torell Troup. The Knights seem inclined to play Jose on defense.
“He’s a kid that plays both sides of the ball very well,” Lockett said. “He’s very explosive, just a great athlete. He was great on defense; great form, great technique that can pick up a lot of space. That’s what Central Florida is missing; someone who can take up space and be a serious run-stopper. I think that’s what the coaches want him to do, and I know he’ll do a great job.”
Central location: Even without Jose, Central was almost one-stop shopping for O’Leary. The school sent five players to UCF.
But one got away: RB Brandon Gainer seemed to be on track to be a Knight but chose Kentucky.
“It shocked everyone in the room,” Lockett told the Orlando Sentinel. “That’s all I can say. I’m still shocked.”
Times staff writer Greg Auman contributed to this report.
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