UCF ‘Hometown Hero’ Movement

Written By: Andrew Johnson (@RealNews102)

Orlando, FL – When UCF hired Gus Malzahn as its new Head Football Coach, expectations were high, especially from a recruiting perspective. With a little over a week out until the 2022 season, those expectations have exceeded what some thought Malzahn could not achieve. 

Malzahn and staff made school history with a verbal commitment from four-star Osceola (Kissimmee, Fla.) defensive lineman John Walker earlier in July. The 6’3, 310-pound prospect was recruited by almost every school in the country with a top five that included Ohio State, Michigan, Miami, and Florida. Walker’s highly anticipated commitment was likely sparked by the new energy UCF has developed around the “State of Orlando”.

UCF’s genius “Hometown Hero” trend started with a big-time verbal commitment from local four-star defensive end Kaven Call out of Apopka (Fla.) high school back in late 2021. Call mentioned his close relationship with UCF staff members as something that played a critical role in his decision. The Knights made another splash on the recruiting trail with commitments from Boone High School (Orlando, Fla.) kicker Grant Reddick and the talented defensive back Braeden Marshall. The 4-star DB out of Lake Mary High School shockingly committed to UCF over Nebraska, North Carolina, and Wisconsin. 

Marshall attended various events and visited UCF multiple times before his commitment. Interestingly, he didn’t have UCF listed in his top three but that obviously didn’t stop the Knights from pursuing him. There are other huge commitments to make note of such as local twin brothers, four-star linebackers Andrew, and Michael Harris. UCF now has 10 hard commits for the class of 2023 with an overall class ranking sitting at 56th in the country.

With just one year under his belt, Malzahn could end up one of the more successful head coach hires in program history. The obvious respect his name generates in the conversation of college football is something UCF has needed at the helm. His ability to connect with local high school recruits, along with the CEO mindset, hasn’t been seen on UCF’s campus ever. He also has plenty of experience recruiting top talent from his Auburn days. He understands what it takes to approach top recruits to flip them from some of the elite Power 5 universities. 

With the excitement brewing from the future Big 12 Conference move, UCF now has the leverage to recruit top talent, but that all starts with winning this season. Malzahn stated in his introductory press conference, “we’re going to recruit the state of Florida like our hair is on fire.” He’s certainly done a great job in that area so far. 

UCF’s 2023 recruiting class:

John Walker, DT, Kissimmee Osceola (Fla.) High School – 4 ⭐️

Braeden Marshall, DB, Lake Mary (Fla.) High School – 4 ⭐️

Andrew Harris, LB, Altamonte Springs (Fla.) Lake Brantley – 4 ⭐️ 

Michael Harris, WLB/Knight, Altamonte Springs (Fla.) Lake Brantley – 4⭐️

Kaven Call, DE/OLB, Apopka (Fla.) High School – 3 ⭐️ 

Troy Ford, Jr., LB, Savannah (Ga.) Calvary Day School – 3 ⭐️ 

Jamal Meriweather, OT, Brunswick (Ga.) High School – 3 ⭐️

Grant Reddick, K/P, Orlando (Fla.) Boone – 5 ⭐️

Dylan Rizk, QB, Fort Lauderdale (Fla.) Cardinal Gibbons – 3 ⭐️ 

Jonathan Cline, OL, Cartersville (Ga.) Cartersville – 3 ⭐️ 

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