With National Signing Day in the past, the focus for UCF football is now on the future. Spring practice will ramp up soon, the spring game will be played on April 22 and of course, the season will get underway in September. Over the next couple of months, the Central Florida Focus sports staff will be breaking down the Knights’ 2017 recruiting class.
The UCF backfield will be much deeper in 2017. Dontravious Wilson, who led the Knights with eight touchdowns last season, will be gone, but Jawon Hamilton (495 yards, four touchdowns) and Adrian Killins (325 yards, four touchdowns) are back for their sophomore seasons. In addition to the two sophomores and junior Taj McGowan, UCF had three running backs sign in this year’s class.
One of the three newcomers in the backfield is three-star Bentavious Thompson, who comes from Southridge High School in Miami, Fla.
“Bentavious is a guy that I don’t think has scratched the surface of what he can become yet,” head coach Scott Frost said. “I’m really proud of him in particular because of what he’s been through to get to where he is. He hasn’t had the easiest road.”
The 5-foot-11-inch running back had committed to Miami earlier in the recruiting process, but ended up signing with the Knights on Feb. 1 after visiting campus on Jan. 27. He chose UCF over the likes of Florida, LSU, Tennessee and Miami. In his senior year of high school, he rushed for 835 yards and eight touchdowns.
Frost spoke highly of Thompson’s ability, but acknowledged that there is work to be done.
“I think when we get him up here and get him on a weight program and start getting him the right nutrition and teaching him the right way, he can be a dynamic player for us,” Frost said. “I’m excited to take him under our wing and help him develop on and off the field.”
Another running back that the Knights signed was a bit of a surprise. Right before signing day, four-star Cordarrian Richardson out of Trezevant High School in Memphis, Tenn., announced that he wasn’t signing yet. He then decided otherwise on Feb. 1, committing to Maryland through a Bleacher Report video displaying his decision from outer-space. The following day, the surprise came as he decided to officially sign with the Knights.
UCF had decided to keep two scholarship spots open after signing day for possible late signees. It may have been a coincidence, but thinking retrospectively, Frost may have hinted at the addition of Richardson during his signing day press conference on Wednesday.
“We learned last year that it’s good to have a couple of spots in your back pocket,” Frost said. “What we kind of thought we wanted to do was take some swings at some real high-value targets at the end and if we landed them, great, if not, we wanted to hold those spots in our pocket.”
One of those spots ended up going to Richardson, who chose UCF over Clemson, Alabama, Florida State and 21 other schools. Over the course of his high school career, he rushed for over 5,000 yards. After his senior season, he was named Tennessee’s Mr. Football.
UCF saw a jump of nearly 1,000 rushing yards from 2015 to 2016, but the backfield still could have been better at times last year. The coaching staff certainly did what it could in this recruiting cycle to assure that the roster will be stacked with backfield talent for years to come.
Bailey Adams is a contributor for the Central Florida Focus. You can follow him on Twitter at @BaileyJAdams22 and you can contact the sports team at EvanA@centralfloridafocus.com.