Welcome to the start of college football’s 2020 early signing period, otherwise now known as Early Signing Day. Sure, this period lasts through Friday, and there is still the traditional signing period that begins in February, but most of the UCF Knights’ 2021 class will make it official today. We’re expecting 15 or so players to become Knights.
As of Wednesday morning, this UCF class is ranked 59th and 64th nationally by Rivals and 24/7 Sports, respectively. Rivals ranks it as the fifth-best class in the AAC while 24/7 has it as the fourth-best. But really, I don’t think we need to rehash all of the arguments about why recruiting rankings are overblown.
Follow along throughout the day as this post will be updated with information on each player as the NLIs roll in.
Head coach Josh Heupel will meet with the media this afternoon. Whatever he says there about one of his new players, you’ll see it here.
7:11 a.m: Wide Receiver Kaedin Robinson
The first official add for UCF is a JUCO wideout. Robinson, who is 6-foot-2, 200 pounds, spent one season at ASA College in New York and will have three years of eligibility remaining. In that one JUCO season, he gained 879 yards and scored nine times off of just 37 receptions.
7:19 a.m: Defensive Back Chad Brown
Back-to-back JUCO products to begin the morning for UCF. Brown received offers from the likes of TCU, North Carolina State and Boise State. A 6-foot-3 safety who hails from Maryland, Brown picked off six passes in 2019 for Fresno City College out in California. He will enroll at UCF with three years of eligibility.
7:35 a.m: Offensive Lineman Ethan Mort
Mort is a 6-foot-6, 275-pound offensive tackle from Venice, Fla. He got a bunch of offers from Power 5 programs, including Florida State, Iowa State, Indiana and South Florida. UCF has targeted Mort for a while; he received his first offer from the Knights in the spring of 2019.
7:49 a.m: Tight End Charlie Browder
Add another big man into the Knights’ tight end room. Browder chose UCF over Arizona State, Appalachian State, Georgia Tech and Iowa State, to name a few. That Iowa State connection is important, because that’s how Browder was introduced to UCF tight ends coach Alex Golesh. Browder received an offer from Golesh to become a Cyclone just one month before Golesh left for UCF. Now, Browder is following him to Orlando. UCF added three tight ends on Early Signing Day 2019, so there is a ton of youth at that position behind returning senior Jake Hescock.
7:52 a.m: Offensive Lineman Leander Wiegand
For the second consecutive year, UCF has added an offensive lineman from Germany. There was Paul Rubelt last year and now Wiegand this year. Wiegand is 6-foot-5, 280 pounds and has experience playing on both sides of the line of scrimmage.
Coach Heupel on Wiegand: “Paul’s ability to come into our program a year ago and handle the communication barrier and grow through that pretty quickly in his work ethic and in his experience that he’s had here helped with Leander. Leander is really of the same mold: tough, gritty, works extremely hard. You look at what he’s done to put himself in a position to earn a scholarship, there’s a lot of sacrifices that he’s had to make that are unique to his circumstances. His passion and drive and energy to come over to America and want to play at the highest level was a portion of why we recruited him. Obviously, the athletic attributes were important, too. Excited to get him over here, and I think that he’ll transition really quickly into what we’re doing.”
Finally official ! I'm really looking forward to the next chapter and I am very grateful for everyone who has helped me up to this point!@UCF_Football @coachjoshheupel@Gelarbee @BLawsonUCF @GridironImports @BjoernWerner @GIfootballChris @mpc_gym #GoKnights pic.twitter.com/hE9VbHnYZp— Leander Wiegand (@LeanderWiegand) December 16, 2020
8:07 a.m: Defensive Back Ronnie Hamrick II
UCF is building a young nucleus at cornerback and has added to it with Hamrick. A 6-foot CB out of Georgia, Hamrick is a track athlete who has been verbally committed to the Knights since May.
8:28 a.m: Tight End Nathan Boerboom
Try out your best DJ Khaled impression because it is indeed “another one.” Soon after Browder submits his NLI, the Knights sign another tight end with size to spare. Boerboom stacks up at 6-foot-5 and about 220 pounds. The Virginia native fielded offers from the likes of Virginia Tech and Pittsburgh.
Coach Heupel on Browder and Boerboom: “Both of them have great size, great length. As they continue to mature into their frames as young players, they are both going to end up in that 245 to 255 range and have the ability to impose their will when they’re playing connected to the line of scrimmage. At the same time, they have attributes that you love about both of those guys. They have the opportunity to split out, to play in space, to be mismatches on linebackers and safeties because of their size, speed and length. Both of them will have an opportunity to be big-time red-zone targets as well, and that’s an area that we can continue offensively within our scheme.”
Great Bridge senior Nathan Boerboom signed with Central Florida this morning. The 6-foot-5, 230-pound tight end plans on enrolling next month. Boerboom, who had 20 offers, chose UCF over NC State, Kansas State, Pittsburgh and Virginia Tech. pic.twitter.com/GjF806cGrk— Larry Rubama (@LHRubama) December 16, 2020
8:41 a.m: Running Back Anthony Williams
UCF brings another local product into its running back room. Williams is from Lake Brantley High. He supplies more size to the group as he is 6 feet tall and weighs close to 200 pounds. He chose UCF over Florida and Miami. Along with Darmarius Good — also a Lake Brantley grad — RJ Harvey and Trillion Coles, the Knights now have a quartet of running backs from Orlando.
Coach Heupel on Williams: “A little bit different skill set than what we’ve got in the room right now — his length, his physical build. Love who he is off the field. I think he’s going to fit into that room extremely well. Unique in that he’s coming into a room that’s already got a close friend, a former teammate in the room as well (Good). He’s got a high ceiling. He’s got the ability to run downhill. Does a great job of getting behind his pads. ... He’s got great feet for his size in the hole as well and feel like he’s going to have an opportunity to come in here and compete.”
8:45 a.m: Linebacker Cole Joyce
Joyce is a 6-foot, 220-pound backer with good speed and athleticism. He will link up with fellow Arkansas native Quade Mosier, a member of UCF’s 2020 class, inside the Knights’ LB room. Joyce was ranked by ESPN as a top-five player in the state of Arkansas for this cycle. He picked UCF over offers from AAC programs such as Houston, Tulsa and SMU.
Coach Heupel on Joyce: “Tough, smart and physical. Passionate. ... Does everything at full speed. I expect him to come in with great leadership traits, learn how we do things here and become a great leader for us during his time here inside of our program. A family that’s passionate, and they are looking forward to traveling out here and watching him play. You look at his track record and what his teams have done, he plays at a championship level year in and year out. High expectations for him.”
9:25 a.m: Quarterback Mikey Keene
Say hello to UCF’s highest-rated commit this year, according to 24/7 Sports (Update: This was true until DL Anthony Hundley committed to UCF later in the day. So, Keene is now UCF’s second-highest-rated commit).
Keene is just 5-foot-11 and 175 pounds, but UCF’s offense has been just peachy with undersized yet mobile, dual-threat QBs behind center for years now. Keene is from Arizona, as is class of 2020 signee quarterback Parker Navarro.
Coach Heupel on Keene: “You watch his tape, he’s dynamic with his feet, dynamic in his decision-making. Quick release. Really powerful arm for his size. I think we’ve seen him develop from his sophomore, junior, senior year, just what we had seen on tape. Coach Halzle and Coach Golesh actually had a chance to see him last January.
“I just think his makeup, his competitive spirit, his experience winning, being in a great program doing multiple things offensively. Has a really high IQ for a young guy at that position. I think he’s really driven, and you put all those attributes together, he’s a winner. You want to continue to bring those types of quarterbacks into your program because that’s got to drive your entire football team.”
10:33 a.m: Defensive Lineman Anthony Hundley
Hundley’s commitment, unlike many on this list. hasn’t been assured for long. Earlier this month, Hundley backed out of his verbal commitment to LSU. He initially said yes to the Tigers in November 2019. Hundley is a 6-foot-3, 270-pound defensive tackle from Bradenton who attended IMG Academy as a senior. He was at Booker T. Washington High as a junior, the same school that UCF cornerback Corey Thornton and redshirt sophomore safety Jermaine McMillian emerged from.
Coach Heupel on Hundley: “Thick, strong, physical, athletic. The ability to play up the field, play on an edge and be disruptive. Great passion and energy from him. We had him in summer camps a couple of years while he was at Booker T. and got to know him. Obviously, his relationship with a couple of our players on campus was big to him and his familiarity and having a true understanding of what’s going on inside of our program. The recruitment was consistent throughout — last spring, all summer long and this fall. Ultimately, he committed. We’ve been sitting on that one for a few days here, but certainly excited to have him as part of our program.”
10:45 a.m: Linebacker Kadeem Leonard
The Knights’ second LB commit of the morning, Leonard is an imposing presence in the middle of the field at 6-foot-3, 215 pounds. He’s a versatile backer who told Rivals’ Brandon Helwig in June that his goal at UCF is to lead the AAC in tackles.
11:48 a.m: Defensive Back William Wells
Here’s a bit of a signing-day surprise for UCF. Wells was previously offered by Syracuse, Utah and Washington State, but he made his college destination known this morning. Wells is a lanky, 6-foot-2 cornerback from West Palm Beach.
11:50 a.m: Defensive Lineman Matthew Alexander
Alexander is a big space-eater and pocker-pusher that coach Shane Burnham can slot into the middle of UCF’s defensive line. A 6-foot-3, 275-pound tackle from Georgia, he fielded 30 offers from D1 programs, including Memphis, Colorado, Arkansas and West Virginia.
12:21 p.m: Defensive Back Brandon Adams
Adams has been very vocal on Twitter about his eagerness to play for the Knights since giving them his vocal commitment in July. He made it official today. He’s a 6-foot-3 ballhawk who can line up at either cornerback or safety.
1:19 p.m: Wide Receiver Jaylon Griffin
The Knights have already hit it big with a wideout named Jaylon who hails from Texas and transferred into the program, so why not try that again? Griffin, who is coming in from Kilgore Junior College, has much more size than 5-foot-10 Jaylon Robinson. At 6-foot-3, Griffin gives the Knights a big target outside the numbers. UCF now has a quartet of wideouts who call Texas home: Griffin, Robinson, Ryan O’Keefe and Ke’von Ahmad.
Coach Heupel on Griffin and Kaedin Robinson: “I like their makeup. I think they are both very focused kids on what they want to accomplish in the short term and in the long term. Jaylon has got elite speed on the outside. Great length. Natural pass-catcher. Kaedin, you look at him, an All-American junior college wide receiver. Put up huge numbers. Has great hands. Consistent in his route-running. And both have great work ethics. I think they are going to complement that room extremely well.”
1:37 p.m. Defensive Lineman Malachi Lawrence
Lawrence verbally committed to UCF just a few days ago after weighing offers from Boston College, Tennessee and others. He’s a 6-foot-4, 255-pound edge pass rusher from Louisville with a lot of athleticism. He was a track and field athlete previously.
Coach Heupel on UCF’s three defensive line additions in this class so far — Hundley, Alexander and Lawrence: ”Big, strong, physical guys that have the ability to play the way that we want to play up front. Certainly, all of those guys are going to have an opportunity to come in, take a bunch of reps and have an opportunity to earn the right to play next fall for us.
“D-line, really love what we did there, but I don’t think we’re done there yet as well.”
1:46 p.m: Defensive Back Trevion Shadrick-Harris
Joining Chad Brown, Shadrick-Harris is the second cornerback from a JUCO in Northern California that UCF has signed today. He recorded four interceptions as a freshman at Sierra College in 2019. The 6-foot-2 DB has three years of eligibility remaining.
Heupel on the five defensive backs UCF signed in this class — Brown, Hamrick II, Wells, Adams and Shadrick-Harris: “Being able to add a couple of junior-college DBs and the talent that we’re bringing in as a collective class at the defensive back position is going to add strength, competition and experience to that group. That’s important for us moving forward.”
GLAD TO OFFICIALLY BE A KNIGHT ⚔️ pic.twitter.com/MFPW9JWjUn— Trevion Harris (@Trevion_5) December 16, 2020
8:34 p.m: Defensive Lineman Jae’Vien Gill
Heupel hinted during his press conference today that UCF wasn’t done signing D-linemen. He didn’t lie. JUCO transfer Jae’Vien “Joker” Gill, a 6-foot-6, 260-pound defensive end from Mississippi Gulf Coast CC, announced Wednesday night that he will become a Knight. He’s the fourth defensive lineman in this class. Gill picked UCF over Memphis, Nebraska and Tulane. He had been committed to the Green Wave for the past few weeks.
Thank God for all he has done for me !UCF FANS STAND UP pic.twitter.com/QXDadWr9lf— joker gill (@gill_joker) December 17, 2020