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Which UCF Football Recruiting Class Was The Best?

We measured how UCF’s recruiting classes did over the course of their careers.

Shaquem Griffin showed NFL scouts and coaches Thursday that he can do more than sack quarterbacks.

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Photo: Derek Warden)
Shaquem Griffin showed NFL scouts and coaches Thursday that he can do more than sack quarterbacks.
Photo: Derek Warden

It’s been a long time coming, but I finally completed the long-awaited UCF Knights Football Recruiting Database. It took literally months and a lot of research, but it’s here for your amusement.

Now, a quick reminder about what this is: I took a look back at every UCF Football recruiting class that I could find, and the oldest was 2004. I took their Rivals.com star ratings and then developed a post-UCF career star ranking of my own to evaluate how those recruits worked out:

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ – Star player and NFL Draft pick. Need not have stayed all four years.
⭐⭐⭐⭐ – All-conference-level standout, possible NFL UDFA pickup.
⭐⭐⭐ – Played and finished career at UCF, graduated (or at least should have). Not NFL talent.
⭐⭐ – Played but didn’t finish at UCF. Transferred, quit football, or something else.
⭐ – Never played a game at UCF, probably on a milk carton somewhere.

You can find the raw data here:

Now, what can we do with this data?

A lot, it turns out. But the first thing I wanted to look at was which was the best recruiting class, which class did UCF get the most out of, and how often did UCF hit on a recruit.

Here’s the analysis of all classes, from 2004 (George O’Leary’s first season) through 2014. The columns are sortable. Remember that this only applies to classes for which 100% of players have graduated. For the moment, that’s through 2014. I’ll add more each year.

UCF Football Recruiting Class Breakdown

Class Players Rivals Avg. 5-Star 4-Star 3-Star 2-Star 1-Star Final Avg. +/- Hits Hit%
Class Players Rivals Avg. 5-Star 4-Star 3-Star 2-Star 1-Star Final Avg. +/- Hits Hit%
2004 22 2.05 1 7 6 1 7 2.73 0.68 14 63.6%
2005 25 2.16 3 1 11 6 4 2.72 0.56 15 60.0%
2006 21 2.29 2 3 8 2 5 2.76 0.48 13 61.9%
2007 27 2.33 0 7 9 3 8 2.56 0.22 16 59.3%
2008 18 2.56 1 3 5 3 6 2.44 -0.11 9 50.0%
2009 24 2.42 0 2 5 5 9 2.38 -0.04 7 29.2%
2010 23 2.74 3 4 8 3 5 2.87 0.13 15 65.2%
2011 28 2.86 1 5 6 8 8 2.39 -0.46 12 42.9%
2012 18 2.83 0 1 5 7 4 2.22 -0.61 6 33.3%
2013 20 2.65 2 4 5 6 3 2.80 0.15 11 55.0%
2014 17 2.65 1 3 8 2 3 2.82 0.18 12 70.6%

Let’s break all of this down by the various categories:

Final Average

The way we calculate the overall quality of a class is based on adding up the total stars they all finished with and then calculating the average number of stars per player, since not all classes have the same number of players. That’s easy. The results are interesting. The top three classes of all time at UCF are as follows:

  • 2010 (2.87) - A massive haul of talent from South Florida thanks to David Kelly (including Jeff Godfrey, Josh Reese, Torrian Wilson, and the McCray Brothers), plus Blake Bortles, Jordan Akins and Clayton Geathers, and other contributors to 2013’s 12-1 season.
  • 2014 (2.82) - Tre’Quan Smith, Kyle Gibson, Jamiyus Pittman, Wyatt Miller, and a host of contributors to the 2017 National Championship season.
  • 2013 (2.80) - These guys saw it all. Players who were redshirts in 2013 were on the roster in the 2014 conference title season, the winless 2015 season, and Scott Frost’s rebuild in 2016, and the National Championship in 2017. Players included the Griffin Brothers (Shaquill didn’t redshirt), Tony Guerad, Aaron Evans, Justin Holman and Chequan Burkett.

The worst was 2012. Those chickens came home to roost four seasons later in 2015.

Plus/Minus

This is a measure of how well UCF develops players. All you have to do here is take their stars-per-player average from a recruiting service - in this case, Rivals.com, since they had the data that went back the furthest - and then compare that to the Final Average above. The higher the positives, the more that group of players out-performed expectations.

The top three were all in George O’Leary’s first three seasons:

  • 2004 - +.68
  • 2005 - +.56
  • 2006 - +.48

Credit to George O’Leary and his staff those first three years for finding the true diamonds in the rough, like Josh Sitton, Leger Douzable, Kevin Smith, Joe Burnett, Bruce Miller and Jah Reid. All of these guys made the NFL after being no higher than two-star recruits.

The least well-developed class was 2012 at a -.61. That group’s best player was Jacoby Glenn, who only played two years (plus a redshirt) and declared early for the NFL Draft, where he went unselected.

Hit Rate

From a coach’s perspective, the fundamental goal for every recruit is for them to complete their eligibility and earn their degree from the institution that recruited them (or at least it should be). Therefore, using the star guide, every UCF coach intends for every player to be a three-star.

I broke down how many 3-5 stars each class had and calculated that to a percentage -the Hit Rate - of the entire class. The three best classes:

  • 2014 - 70.6%
  • 2010 - 65.2%
  • 2004 - 63.6%

The worst Hit Rate was in 2009, when less than 30% of that class’ kids finished at UCF.


My hope is not only that we will keep track of this as Scott Frost and Josh Heupel’s classes come through, but also that my fellow SB Nation counterparts will do a similar evaluation of their schools’ recruiting classes over history.

Then maybe we can get a more clear picture of how recruiting really works, rather than the opaque and unaccountable recruiting services. The truth is out there.