The Sunshine State has been good to UCF as of late.
Of the Knights’ 12 verbal commitments from 2013 prospects, 11 are from Florida.
UCF will undoubtedly keep going after in-state players to fill up its remaining eight spots in the 2013 recruiting class, but the Knights are also beginning to turn to out-of-state players.
New Orleans O. Perry Walker High School standouts and Tulane commits Lyn Clark and Corey Smith are two noteworthy prospects from outside Florida in whom UCF is showing interest.
“One day, [UCF linebackers coach Tyson Summers] Coach Summers came to school,” Clark said. “He watched my film and said he liked it. He said I’m hard-nosed, my playing style is unique ... Ever since that, they’ve been recruiting me hard. I like Orlando’s scenery, like the amusement parks … It’s a nice city, a beautiful city.”
Clark (6-2, 225) is a physical player with the flexibility to play any linebacker position in a 4-3 scheme. He holds scholarship offers from Houston, Memphis, Purdue, and Marshall.
Smith (6-6, 230) has offers from Miami, Arkansas, Colorado, FIU and others, and is a strictly a defensive end.
“I do everything well, but I’m a tremendous pass rusher,” said Smith, who had 10 sacks as a junior.
The defensive duo figures to lead a traditionally strong O. Perry Walker team to the state playoffs this season.
“Our motto at O. Perry Walker has always been ‘defense wins championships, offense sells tickets.’ Basically, we know that defense wins championships,” Clark said. “That was one of our downfalls last year, our defense did not live up to its expectations, so this year, I feel like we’re one of the most complete teams in Louisiana, on the defensive side of the ball. We should be good, we should be great on defense.”
Both Clark and Smith committed to Tulane in June, opting to stay close to home and buy into first-year head coach and New Orleans native Curtis Johnson’s vision for the program.
“Tulane is recruiting inner-city kids,” Clark said. “They’re not looking past inner-city kids anymore. They don’t have to go to Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia just to get great players because they know the great players are here. Coach C.J. is going to play true freshmen. That’s one thing I love about him.”
Smith also likes the idea of playing in his hometown.
“My whole family will be able to see my game,” Smith said. “They won’t have to fly a couple of hours and it has some of the top academics in the nation.”
Both players’ commitment to Tulane will make it hard for teams to sway them, although programs are still making a push. Smith said that Miami, Colorado and UCF are ‘in the mix’ while Clark is also weighing his options.
“Colorado, Arkansas, Purdue, UCF, a lot of schools basically,” Clark said.” Mississippi State, Ole Miss, but I’m committed to Tulane hard right now.”
Clark visited Orlando once before during a non-football-related trip and said he’d like to go again for an official visit to UCF.
“I’d like to see UCF, Colorado, Memphis, Mississippi State, that’s about it, and Tulane of course,” Clark said.
Smith still isn’t sure where he’ll take his official visits.
UCF hasn’t offered either player a scholarship, yet, but that could change as both sides begin to show more mutual interest in one another.
Other out-of-state players UCF is targeting include: Pinson (Ala.) Clay safety/linebacker T.J. McCollum, Philadelphia West Catholic OL Jaryd Jones-Smith, and Fort Worth (Texas) All Saints Episcopal linebacker Xavier Phillips.
Brendan Sonnone is the Sentinel's recruiting correspondent and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Brendan on Twitter at @BSonnone or Facebook at Brendan Sonnone or at Orlando Sentinel Recruiting.