2015 UCF Football Recruiting Class Review

By: Troy Ondrizek

We have finally reached the conclusion of the 2015 recruiting cycle. A time of year in which fans of every team can look optimistically upon the future of their program and how this collective group of 18 year old young men will carry them to future gridiron glory. For some teams, this actually is their reality; conference titles and bowl victories await. For most teams (all teams named USF), frustration and mediocrity lie ahead.

Just as there are many different interpretations of the same biblical text that leads to different offshoots of religion and war, fanbases of the same school will have polar opposite views of the same recruiting class coming in. As for UCF, it seems our fans have a rather optimistic view of this class and though while not the optimal sized class (due to us being in the last year of NCAA sanctions); the quality of athletes that pledged their futures to us is quite impressive.

One cannot give a truly objective grade or evaluation of this class until three years down the road, but I’m not paid to be objective or even paid at all, so under that pretense I give this class a B+. I’ll tell you why, our two biggest areas of need were of course our depleted secondary and WR corps. We added two* quality DBs in this class that we beat out P5 schools for after we lost our entire starting secondary to graduation and in Jacoby Glenn’s case, the NFL draft. We had four senior WRs move on to the next phases of their life/career and Breshad Perriman left early for the NFL draft. To replace them, we hauled in our highest touted WR recruiting class to date with three guys who have the ability to forge their own legacies here at #WRU.

We managed to bring in some maulers on the OL to help what was the weakest unit on this team last season, a slew of talented LBs to help us cope with the loss of leaders Troy Gray and Terrance Plummer. One cannot forget that we added talent and depth to our two strongest positions in QB and RB. I take points because I wasn’t wowed by our DL recruits as a whole and the decreased numbers of signees (17). So here is our take on each signee,

 

  • Bo Schneider (QB) Dallas, Tx: Baby-faced Bo recruited us because he liked what he saw when watching UCF in 2013 with Blake Bortles at the helm. This young man is every bit of the 6’3” he listed and sports an above average arm with a projectable body. He has a relatively smooth and repeatable release and positions his feet well to insure accuracy. He is a true pocket passing QB with good athleticism to extend plays. He was able to recognize advantageous matchups for his receivers pre-snap and exploited that to the tune of 3,492 yards and 45 TDs. He didn’t carry a litany of P5 offers due to the fact he was a solid commit to UCF and told everyone else to bugger off.

  • Taj McGowan (RB) Hallandale, FL: The lone early enrollee in this year’s class is also the only running back we grabbed. A position of great depth but not great production last year, McGowan came to UCF in January and is now toiling on the weight room in preparation for spring practices and catching himself up to Reed, Wilson, and Stanback. On film, I saw a patient running back who set up his blockers for long gains and put opposing LBs into bad angles so he could break through weak arm tackles. I don’t expect to see him this season, but as he spends time in a college weight program and running behind Hudanick and Hiers, McGowan can be a name that Knights fans will hold in high esteem.

  • Luke Hiers (OL) Lake Wales, FL: Luke was at one point the 4th ranked Center in the land; after verbally committing to UCF, he dropped down to #8. Who cares where he is ranked, this guy is mean. I’m talking steal your bike and punch your little sister in the neck mean; which is what you want in a lineman. He sustains his blocks and drives through the defender. He is a bit tall (6’3”) for center and a possible move to Guard is in store for him, regardless of where he plays, he’ll be a force as long as he stays healthy.

  • Tyler Hudanick (OL) Harmony, Pa: Not as highly touted as Hiers, this monster (6’5”) lineman makes this UCF fan all giddy. He has flaws with his technique and let’s guys get into his pads and such; that can be fixed easy. What you can’t teach is this kid’s burning desire to maul and humiliate every defender within arm’s reach. He finishes blocks with such a vengeance some could question if it’s morally okay that he plays in such a fashion. He does a great job of shielding defenders in the run game and will lie on his fallen combatants until the ref’s whistle saves them from suffocation. I’m so happy he’s a Knight.

  • Tristan Payton (WR) Jacksonville, FL: The highest rated high school recruit UCF has signed to date. He fits a HUGE need in the WR corps. Payton is the versatile guy you look for as your primary target. His route repertoire is all inclusive and he shows a willingness to venture over the middle. He has great body control and strong hands that he uses to catch the ball away from his body. He comes back to help a mobile QB and is quick in and out of his cuts. Tristan was a very big addition to this class and fills a point of great need.

  • Cameron Stewart (WR) Snellville, Ga: The first commit for this class, he waivered early in the fall, but stuck with the Black and Gold till the end. His physical build stands out immediately (6’3” 190lbs). He’s strong and is able overpower DBs for the ball, he’s tall with above average athleticism and pinpoints the ball at its highest point on jump balls. He looks to be heir apparent to Breshad Perriman just as Payton looks like a solid replacement for Rannel Hall. Payton and Stewart look to have the best chances of early playing time out of our three WR signees

  • D’erren Wilson (WR) Greeneville, TX: The most “under the radar” of our three WR commits. I like his potential the most. He’s 6’3” with 4.4 speed who plays that fast and after the catch runs away from opposing defenders like Forest Gump from a truck full of bullies. His routes aren’t the most concise yet and he doesn’t shield defenders from the ball and utilize that long frame in that aspect, but he has springbok legs and cheetah speed. He was very interested in UCF in the late fall, then SMU hired Chad Morris and Wilson was the first WR Morris called. D’erren committed soon after in December only to realize he committed to SMU; he soon rectified that mistake, took and official to beautiful Orlando and decided this is where his future lies.

  • Aaron Cochran (Grown Man) Atlanta, Ga: H-Back, fullback, Running Back, TE, father figure, DE, he can play them all. Originally committed to Louisville, UCF never gave up on this…young man??? He always had the Black and Gold on his mind, the pizza lovers from Kentucky didn’t take kindly to this and pulled his offer right before signing day, and that cemented his desire to play for the Knights. Google Aaron Cochran, do it, he looks like the Hulk in Under Armor garb. We recruited him for the H-Back position previously held Cedric Thompson, though Aaron can play on the defensive line if need be, I think we need him there. At 6’3” and 250lbs, I’m legitimately nervous for our opponents when Cochran completes a few years in our strength program. He has WWE written all over him should the NFL not be an option when he graduates.

  • Titus Davis (DE) Stockbridge, Ga: A speed rusher for a defense that lacks such on the outside. He turned down 7 offers from P5 schools and could’ve been more had he not been a solid verbal to UCF back in July. He gets off the ball at the snap with sudden quickness and uses his hands well to manipulate blockers. He needs to add some strength and a few pass rushing moves. He does however possess superior pass rushing skills to some of our current starters. I’m tired of watching some of our DEs stand still as the play starts and then waltz with the tackles until they bite badly on play fakes and are incapable of sealing the edge. Davis gives us an immediate upgrade to those personnel, something not often found with true freshman DLineman.

  • Brendon Hayes (DE) New Orleans, La: We’re being used, that’s right Mr. Hayes is just exploiting our football program so he can get a valuable college degree. I’m damn proud to hear it too. Let’s get one thing straight, if he is moved to DT as what has been rumored, then I like his addition a lot more and we’ll “use” him too. He has size (6’4” 240lbs) and a frame to add bulk and he could eat up space, blockers, and ball carriers should his home be the interior portion of the line. Hayes’ grandfather is an engineer, Hayes wants to be an engineer, and we have a hell of an engineering program, which makes us a perfect match. While most of his high school teammates signed with Tulane, an excellent academic institution, Hayes married excellent academics with championship football and thus now a UCF Knight.

  • Monte Taylor (DE) JC, Brooklyn, NY: As with every school, we’ve had mixed results with JUCO players. New York isn’t known for quality football at the collegiate level, and competition at the JUCO level is subpar in that state, All this leads me to being skeptical of this signing; guess what? The coaches are stoked about Taylor coming in. Guess what else? The coaches know more than I do. They’re high on what Taylor brings to the Knights and my skepticism means not, I hope their expertise stomps all over my novice evaluations; for now though I remain apprehensive.

  • Quinton Hampton (LB) Moultrie, Ga: He isn’t the member of this talented incoming LB that I’m most hyped about, but let it be known he is already the leader of this group. Hampton sleeps, eats, breaths, and poops Black and Gold. When he graduates, he’d make for a great GA and an even better recruiter for UCF. I wonder if he’d get credit for the recruiting he’s done for this class? He verbally lobbied everyone on their OVs this past month and social media’ed remaining recruits like Brandon Scott and Rashard Causey into submission. Sure Quinton might’ve donned the ugliest shirt to ever exist with his photo with O’Leary, but the young man is a Knight through and through, He reminds me of a more ambitious Terrance Plummer, that’s lofty right there. His work ethic and personable persona will go a long way in making him a very successful Knight, oh yeah; he’s not a bad football player either. He also is accustomed to winning championships, useful skill to have around here.

  • Neal Nelson (LB) Sicklerville, NJ: Strong hands. Think a lion dragging down a zebra strong. Nelson looks to make a career playing in the opponent’s backfield. Ball carriers just don’t get away from him. He anticipates running lanes like a veteran and clogs passing lanes with superior spatial awareness. He’s like a #6 midfielder in soccer. Coupled with Hampton in the near future, opposing offenses better have great QBs to rely on, as running the ball won’t be an option.

  • Pat Jasinski (LB) Roswell, Ga: While other LB recruits spurned offers from P5 schools, Jasinski turned down every Skull and Bones Ivy league entity in the northeast. That makes him a good student, so what, we have tons of those, we do have the top graduation rate in the nation for public schools. He also tackles everything that stands still or moves. 130 tackles with 10 TFL, 3.5 sacks, and 1 Int his senior year. I’m pretty sure he’s a robot, a tackling machine who doubles as a super computer in the classroom; sounds like a Knight to me.

  • Marcus Foster (LB) League City, TX: The final edition to this balanced and talented LB class, Foster is a rangy run stuffer. At 6’2” he brings solid height to the MLB spot that will hold up well against blockers and help him cover sideline to sideline. He saw Pat’s success and 5 upped him in tackles with 135 his senior year. The class leaving with Troy Gray and Terrance Plummer gave us many great moments and were fantastic Knights through the years, arguably the best LB core we’ve had. On NSD for that class, it was Willie Mitchell who I had the highest hopes for; we know he didn’t contribute on the field like planned, but got his degree none-the-less. Will foster be the next Gray or the next Mitchell? Both ended up successes, here’s hoping he’s the former at the end.

  • Brandon Scott (DB) Destrahan, La: Whew, that was a close one. It was down to Arkansas and UCF. I know the SEC is an attractive girl and Arkansas is a good football team. But we’re #DBU not Arkansas and former UCF Knight, NFL DB, and 2nd rd pick and current CB coach Travis Fisher drove that point home to Mr. Scott. We can offer playing time, expert coaching, Florida weather, and disturbingly hot co-eds to someone as talented as Brandon. That takes the shine off of Old Lady SEC. We lost Clayton Geathers and Brandon Alexander to graduation/NFL and Scott has a chance to get into the 2 deep and some playing time come August.

  • Rashard Causey (DB) Ft. Lauderdale, FL: Tristan Payton might have been our only “4 Star” recruit, but Causey should’ve been our second in this class. Losing Jacoby Glenn two years early to the NFL hurts, it really does. It hurts a little less today. Over the years we’ve put Samuel, Bigby, Fisher, Burnet, Robinson, Bouye, Ishmael, Glenn, and possibly Geathers into the NFL from our secondary and Causey has that same career arc in front of him if he so chooses. He’s a big (6’0”) shutdown corner who supports the run as well. A long time (shockingly) FAU commit from the football powerhouse St. Thomas Aquinas, Causey had an offer list like no other in the modern recruiting era for UCF. He visited us on Jan 23rd, most “pundits” thought he’d head to the SEC, he verbally committed on Jan 30th, and he’s officially bringing his talents to Orlando. Look for him to compete for playing time right away. We have several nickel backs looking to be our starting corners next season, but Causey has the ball skills they don’t. This will be an extremely young secondary and could be led by Causey and Scott right away.

This is a small class, but a very talented one. This is what we need, the past two years we’ve brought in better athletes that yet still fit the mold that GOL and staff covet; a hard working student-athlete with a higher level of maturity and a willingness to work hard on the field, in the weight room, and in the classroom. This is the second highest “ranked” class UCF has had, with 2011 being the highest. The influx of talent is much needed as 2012 has been mostly a bust and it’s best player (Jacoby Glenn) has already departed for the NFL. I look forward to seeing a handful of these young men on the field this season, and to see exactly what they can do down the road. We won’t know for sure how good they can be until they’re upperclassmen, but as of now, their future looks awfully bright.