Feb. 4, 2010
2010 SIGNING CLASS ROSTER
GOOD CROWD ENJOYS SIGNING DAY PARTY
ORLANDO, Fla. -
By John Denton
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UCF offensive line coach Brent Key still had the cell phone pressed up to his ear, but the device couldn't hide the toothy smile splashed across his face.
``I just got off the phone with Torrian,'' a giddy Key informed all of the UCF coaches assembled at the Wayne Densch Sports Center on Wednesday for National Signing Day, referring to Miami Northwestern guard Torrian Wilson.
``Well, what did he say?'' UCF head coach George O'Leary asked breathlessly.
``He's coming!!!'' Key said as the group erupted with cheers and high-fives. ``Unbelievable. That's so good for us.''
Signing Day morphed into a feel-good afternoon on Wednesday for a UCF program that added the kind of dynamic talent that should provide an immediate impact next season. The surprise signing of Wilson, an Under Armor All-American, combined with the additions of highly coveted defensive tackle Jose Jose, wide receivers Joshua Reese and Jordan Akins and quarterbacks Jeffrey Godfrey and Blake Bortles gave UCF arguably its best recruiting class in the history of the program.
``I think good news travels and with the exposure that UCF has gotten a lot of kids out there are seeing how great UCF really is,'' head coach George O'Leary
said. ``Our facilities and the school sell themselves. The only thing we lack now is tradition because we haven't been playing Division I that long. But I think people are starting to realize that it's hard for a school of our size to not take off and just start dominating.''
The only setback of the day came when the Knights lost tailback Brandon Gainer to the University of Kentucky. But not long after word came of the Gainer defection to Kentucky came down on Wednesday, UCF got word on Wilson's decision to pass up an offer from Louisville and interest from Tennessee and Michigan to play for the Knights.
``You lose one, but you add another really good player in Torrian,'' O'Leary said. ``When you look at the (recruiting) class as a whole, I couldn't be happier. We have 11 on offense and 12 on defense. And there's only three of them shorter than 6-foot. We've got some size and some really good athletes in that group.''
UCF added 23 recruits to a team that went 8-5 last season and won its final five games in Conference USA play. The Knights qualified for a bowl game for the third time in school history, losing 45-24 to Rutgers in the St. Petersburg Bowl.
Defensive end Quenton Brown, a close friend of UCF freshman A.J. Bouye, was the first to FAX in his National Letter of Intent paperwork just after 7 a.m. Jose, the fifth player from Miami Central to sign with the Knights, was the final addition at 1:27 p.m.
The final addition of Jose elicited several fist pumps from the coaches and another big smile from O'Leary, who had targeted the 6-foot-2, 355-pound defensive tackle for weeks. In O'Leary's eyes, Jose has the potential to replace standout tackle Torell Troup, who graduated and is likely headed for a mid-round selection in the NFL Draft.
In Jose, O'Leary sees the same kind of potential.
``This biggest thing with him is his power,'' O'Leary said. ``He is a powerful lineman with great feet. He really reminds me of Troup because he got here about the same size. His point of power is just tremendous.''
Assistant head coach David Kelly, who personally recruited 15 of the 23 players UCF landed said the key piece in UCF's dazzling success in South Florida all started with the signing of Godfrey. The Miami Central was knocked by some because of his small frame (5-11, 178 pounds), but his credentials (Mr. Dade Football and Dade County's all-time leading passer) speak for themselves.
Kelly said Godfrey's legend in South Florida, one he thinks was even bigger than that of University of Miami quarterback Jacory Harris, was the key domino in UCF becoming a major factor in Miami.
``The critical piece was getting Jeffrey when we did because everybody followed him,'' Kelly gushed about Godfrey, who is already enrolled in classes at UCF. ``The way he conducts himself and carries himself, people just fall in love with him. The (UCF) kids and oohing and ahhing already with that little guy and the way he throws the ball and the way he handles the attention. But for people in South Florida he is THE legend down there from Pop Warner Ball all the way up to high school.
``And when Jeff went to UCF that opened the eyes to everyone else to come take a look,'' Kelly said. ``And once they come on our campus, this place speaks for itself. And the success of these young men it only cultivates and invites more great players to come from South Florida in the future.''
Maybe UCF's biggest coup of the day was swiping Akins, a 6-foot-4, 202-pound multi-sport wide out who many are already comparing to former Knight great Brandon Marshall. Akins narrowed his choices down to UCF and the University of Georgia on Wednesday and shocked the crowd when he picked the Knights over the pro-Bulldog crowd.
Steve Bouye, father of UCF freshman defensive back A.J. Bouye, attended Akins' announcement on Wednesday and chuckled at the stunned silence from the Georgia fans in attendance. Bouye is convinced that the Knights just landed a future superstar in Akins.
``No disrespect to anybody else that they get, but UCF just got their best wide receiver in Jordan,'' Bouye said. ``I know he'll play right away. Once he learns to play wide receiver at that level, you're looking at a Brandon Marshall type of player.''
Kelly called the day a smashing success for the Knights. He said from the moment that UCF lost in the St. Pete Bowl the coaching staff made a vow to significantly upgrade the program's talent base. And now that UCF has done just that, Kelly said he looking forward to what should be the most competitive spring practice in years at UCF.
``Ever since we walked off that field after the bowl game, I've been ready for football season to start up,'' Kelly said. ``The pain that we felt that night - every kid that was coming back and every coach around here a part of this - couldn't wait to get off that field and get started with this coming season.
``No doubt, we're extremely excited because we know we have a chance to be a pretty good football team next year with what we have returning and what we have incoming. The excitement is probably as high as it's ever been as far as UCF Nation is concerned.''
John Denton's Knights Insider appears on UCFathletics.com several times a week. E-mail John at email@example.com.