UCF will host an abundance of local recruits during its junior day this Saturday.
The Knights have just one verbal commitment to the 2013 class in Crestview High running back Micah Reed (5-11, 182). That could change, however, on Saturday. For many in-state schools this year, junior days have been effective in jump-starting the recruiting season.
Florida’s junior day in February yielded six big-time commitments for the Gators. Florida State also had similar success, landing four commitments during its junior day last month.
With self-imposed sanctions reducing UCF’s number of official visits this season to 27 — a 20 percent decrease from the previous four years — this upcoming junior day is an important event for the Knights because UCF can offset the recruiting restrictions by securing early commits, getting an assortment of recruits (in and out of state) on campus, and developing strong relationships with prospects from the area who can visit the school frequently.
Junior day — an invite-only event when prospects visit a school, talk in-depth with coaches and take a tour of the program’s facilities — makes all of that possible.
One local player said recently he'd commit to UCF on the spot if offered by the Knights during his visit. Versatile athlete Mikey Dorcely (5-10, 170) of Orlando Lake Highland Prep said he would love to play close to home for family in friend to be able to come to his games.
"They’re looking at me heavy," Dorcely said. "I’m willing to stay home. I want to stay home. That would be a BIG positive.
"If UCF offered me, I’d commit. I’m a Miami boy, but I want to stay in Orlando. Everybody I know is here ... my family, my mom, my friends, everybody."
Dorcely already has offers from FAU, Indiana, Memphis and Washington State.
Below are some area players that have confirmed they’re planning to attend UCF’s junior day. It should be noted that this is a fluid situation and there will likely be additions and subtractions to this list.
-- Ryne Rankin, LB, Orlando East River, 6-1, 220 – Rankin, regarded as the area’s top linebacker, is a technically sound and ferocious sideline-to-sideline player with eight total offers. The Knights offered him last week and are hoping to keep him close to home, as East River is just 10 minutes away from UCF’s campus.
-- Devin Washington, DE, Orlando Jones, 6-3, 225 – Washington will be celebrating his birthday at the junior day. Washington has double-digit offers and has said that the Knights will always be a contender for his services. Washington lives in Bithlo and originally attended East River, so UCF is in his backyard as well.
-- James Julius Jr., DB, Orlando Evans, 5-10, 170 – Fluid and versatile defensive back prospect picked up a Boston College offer last week, giving him his first offer. He has been expecting a UCF offer recently. He will be in attendance with Evans teammates RB Brandon English and QB Levar Robinson.
-- John Armstrong, RB/WR, Orlando Olympia, 5-8, 170 – Just like his cousins UCF receiver Quincy McDuffie and Tennessee signee Alton ‘Pig’ Howard, Armstrong lacks prototypical size but has the blazing speed to compensate for it. Armstrong talks to McDuffie often and said he’d like to see his cousin’s school on junior day.
Other local recruits that plan on attending include: Apopka OL Dazzie Morris (6-2, 260); Apopka Wekiva DB Sam Jallah (5-9, 180); Orlando Cypress Creek DE/TE Malik Smith (6-2, 239); Orlando Freedom WR Jeff Badet (5-11, 170); Orlando Freedom OL/DL Kevin Maurice (6-3, 270); Boone LB/QB Alton Meeks (6-3, 225), who already has a UCF offer, as does his teammate, RB A.J. Turman (6-0, 205).
The following recruits were expected to attend UCF’s junior day, but will instead compete in the IMG Madden 7-on-7 SE Regional tournament in Bradenton: DeLand WR Dantwaun O’Neal (6-3, 192), DeLand RB JoJo Kemp (5-10, 190), Orlando Dr. Phillips safety Matt Milano (6-1, 190), Winter Garden West Orange CB Roman Tatum (5-10, 170) and Sanford Seminole ATH EA Watkins (5-11, 195).
Chris Hays is the Sentinel's recruiting coverage coordinator and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Brendan Sonnone is the Sentinel's recruiting correspondent and can be reached at email@example.com.