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Early Signing Period: How the UCF Knights Stand After Day One

The class is almost half offensive linemen so far. And has a four star linebacker. And a flip from a Power Five school. Good start.

NCAA Football: American Athletic Conference Championship-Memphis at Central Florida Matt Stamey-USA TODAY Sports

The UCF Knights and new head coach Josh Heupel had a solid day in the early signing period. Given the coaching chaos UCF has endured – the departure of Scott Frost for Nebraska and every assistant coach with him – the progress demonstrated was especially satisfying. Heupel’s only been on the job for fifteen days and put together something respectable.

Thanks to the addition of linebacker Eriq Gilyard, UCF extended its streak of having at least one four star signee in each class to four years in a row. The Knights also added a former four-star recruit in offensive lineman Trevor Elbert – he had signed with Texas A&M in 2015 before needing shoulder surgery and subsequently spending time in the junior college ranks.

Elbert is one of a trio of JuCo additions to the class reeled in by Heupel. Fellow offensive lineman Josh McMullen flipped to UCF from Colorado following his recent official visit. Tight End Chris Deloach did likewise; he had been committed to Southern Miss prior to his UCF visit.

The class thus far is heavy on offensive lineman, who comprise five of the Knights’ 12 early signees. Elbert and McMullen are joined by Eric Seidelman (who has the distinction of being UCF’s first pledge of the class and also the first signee of the Heupel era), James Collins, and Edward Collins[1]. This makes sense – the Knights’ roster will continue to be loaded at the skill positions next year. In contrast, UCF loses Aaron Evans and Chavis Dickey to graduation (as well as back-ups Charles Sprenkel and Tate Hernly). As Heupel observed:

I feel like we added some integral parts on the offensive side of the ball. In particular we have the midyear kids on that side of the ball that will be able to help us. A couple offensive linemen and a position of need with a couple kids graduating, then the tight end position as well. Able to fill that hole a bit.

In addition to Gilyard, UCF signed five other players on the defensive side of the ball today. The Knights added defensive linemen in Ike Walker, Demetreius Mayes, and Davonchae Bryant. A pair of defensive backs from Miami – Derek Gainous and Jermaine McMillian – also signed with the Knights. With Mayes also hailing from the Magic City, fully a fourth of the class to date is comprised of Miamians.

247Sports ranks UCF as currently the sixth best recruiting class in the American Athletic Conference, while Rivals ranks UCF as the eighth best recruiting class in the conference. But the wider context means that this not distressing. With fifteen commitments (Isiah Bellamy, Devin Jordan, and Patrick Jolly, Jr. have not yet signed), the Knights have substantially fewer commitments than any AAC program ranked above UCF. Pound for pound, this is a fine start. Half of the players who signed today are three star athletes. And UCF is the only AAC school other than Cincinnati to sign a four star player.

It could yet get better - two days remain in the early signing period.

[1] Not a typo – two different guys named Collins. James is from Virginia and Edward is from Alabama.