There aren't many events that allow one to judge a new head coach who was not even held a practice yet. National Signing Day is one. For Frost, UCF's first class under his tenure looks to be a triumph, especially considering where the expectations were.
Frost walked into a tough situation. The 2015 Knights team was the worst in school history. It was a complete failure on the field and staggeringly uninteresting to watch. Historically, O'Leary's staff had done little to build meaningful connections in local high schools. O'Leary's last class, in fact, had more commits from Georgia than from Florida. And O'Leary's staff had nailed down relatively few commitments for 2016.
And Frost didn't have much time with which to work. He was hired in December. He recruited with an incomplete staff.
The focus was very clearly on in-state players. The Knights ended up with twelve of their twenty signees from Florida and picked up some excellent players from south Florida in particular -- including Jawon Hamilton from Homestead, whom I have already in my mind anointed as the Knights' next great running back.
Frost's staff nabbed a couple highly rated recruits, something that has been all too rare for UCF. The most obvious and talked about pick up on National Signing Day was Dredrick Snelson. A Minnesota commit who flipped and decided to stay close to home with the Knights. Depending on who you ask, Snelson is variously rated as a four star (Rivals, which puts him in its top 250 recruits and ESPN) or three star (Scout and 247Sports). He's the Knights' highest rated recruit this year. It's not just a feel good pick-up, either, but one that may have a huge impact. The WR corps has the potential to be one of the Knights' better units next year with Jordan Akins and Tre'Quan Smith (some of the few bright spots on a terrible team last year) back healthy. We're fairly giddy at the thought of Akins, Smith, and Snelson on the field simultaneously.
The Knights' other four star recruit and fellow Rivals250 member, Aaron Dowdell was previously committed to Georgia . . . when Richt was the head coach. The Dawgs' loss is the Knights' gain here, and a crucial one given how porous the offensive line was both in 2015 (when it looked like it should have been a strength) and 2014.
Add to all of this the fact that Frost was able to in many instances get "his" guys. The Knights' only signee at quarterback, McKenzie Milton had camped with Oregon and impressed Frost there. As Frost describes it, Milton would be one of the top two QB recruits in the country if he had been 6'4" instead of "six feet" tall (okay, okay, so he's really 5'11"). And Frost reeled in a number of Junior College transfers, which should help a team that last year had holes, uh, basically everywhere.
The Knights ended up with what is clearly one of the better classes in the Group of Five. Rivals is the most bullish and has the Knights as the third ranked G5 class, following only Houston (led of course by Future Texas or A&M Head Coach Tom Herman) and Boise State, which signed seven more players than the Knights did (and no four stars). Scout seems to think less of UCF. And 247Sports would rate the Knights at number seven.
It's a great inaugural class for Frost, and one that Knights fans should regard as his first victory.