Key UCF recruits Chester Brown, Drico Johnson headline Knights' recruiting class

UCF KnightsFootballCollege SportsSchoolsHigh SchoolsReligion and BeliefTorell Troup

Former Georgia commitment Chester Brown and Orlando Agape Christian receiver Drico Johnson, two of the Knights' highest profile recruits, officially signed with UCF on National Signing Day.

Brown and Johnson were among 19 players in the Knights' 2012 recruiting class. The group includes three players who used grayshirts and two transfers from major programs.

However, UCF got a dose of bad news when Phenix City (Ala.) Central dual-threat quarterback Jonathan Wallace flipped his commitment from the Knights to Auburn Wednesday. The Knights have added much-needed depth quarterback, with former Missouri quarterback Tyler Gabbert, former Colorado State quarterback Nico Ranieri and New York high school recruit Troy Green all headed to UCF.

UCF also lost out on three prospects it hoped to land on signing day -- Daytona Mainland cornerback Deonte Wilson and Alabama linebackers Beau Hankins and Harding Harper. Wilson signed with FIU, Hankins signed with Georgia Tech and Harper signed with Vanderbilt.

Despite missing out on Wallace, wilson, Hankins and Harper, the Knights arguably still manage to fill key holes on the roster.

UCF received letters of intent from Pensacola Catholic offensive lineman Luke Adams, Prichard (Ala.) Vigor cornerback Jacoby Glenn, Miami Norland receiver Dareen Owi, Pensacola Pace offensive tackle Michael Campbell, Fort Lauderdale Cardinal Gibbons cornerback Nicco Whigham, Pensacola Pine Forest offensive tackle Colby Watson and Daytona Beach Warner Christian receiver Taylor Oldham. Delray Beach American Heritage teammates Kelly Parfitt, an offensive lineman, and Blake Davis, a tight end, also signed with the Knights.

Brown had long been committed to the Bulldogs, but his family originally from Samoa reportedly wasn't able to provide enough documentation Brown was a United States citizen and he was forced to seek a new school.

He committed to UCF after a visit shortly before National Signing Day. Chester's high school coach told the Atlanta Journal Constitution Brown would likely wait until after signing day to pick a school because of the crush of late offers from elite programs, but Chester stuck to his word and signed with the Knights.

Brown (6-5, 340) was primarily recruited as an offensive line prospect by most schools, but the UCF coaches are eager to see what he can do on the defensive line. Former UCF star Torell Troup successfully made the same transformation during his career with the Knights, developing into a star defensive tackle now playing in to the NFL.

Johnson was among the Knights' highest rated players and told the Sentinel he is eager to prove he can shine at the college level despite competing for a small high school against weaker opponents. Johnson is the first player from Agape Christian to sign with a Football Bowl Subdivision program.

Oldham also is among the players in the 2012 recruiting class from smaller schools determined to make a big impact at the college level and prove critics wrong about their ability to compete with the best prospects.

Green, a quarterback from Skaneateles High (N.Y.), was the second player to fax his letter of intent to UCF on National Signing Day.

Green helps the Knights bolster the Knights' depth at a key position. He will be redshirting the 2012 season and is eager to learn UCF's offense.

Green has ties to O'Leary. Green's father, Tim Green, played for O'Leary at Syracuse and then went on to play linebacker and defensive end for the Atlanta Falcons from 1986-1993. Tim Green is now a high school coach, passing on the lessons he learned during his college and pro career to his son.

Naples Golden Gate linebacker Stanley Sylverain was the first recruit to fax his letter of intent to UCF on National Signing Day.

School officials announced Sylverain had signed with the Knights at 7:11 a.m., but coaches posted on Twitter the letter technically rolled in at 7 a.m. sharp. The letters must verified by UCF's compliance staff before the school will formally announce the signing.

Sylverain will help UCF bolster its linebacker rotation, which is still recovering from major turnover following the ultra-successful 2010 season.

Sylverain was part of a senior class that helped lead Golden Gate to its first postseason appearance in the school's eight-year history. He was named to the Naples Daily News' All-Area team after recording 57 tackles and six sacks.

UCF opened National Signing Day with five key pieces of its recruiting class already on board.

National recruiting websites, such as Rivals.com, Scout.com and ESPN.com, do not recognize transfers and grayshirts as part of the 2012 recruiting class, but those types of players represent a major piece of the Knights' infusion of talent.

Three players who originally signed letters of intent in February 2011 skipped the 2011 season at UCF to recover from injuries and enroll at the school January. Receiver Breshad Perriman and defensive backs Jared Henry and Jeremy Davis all took grayshirts, enroll at UCF in January and will be participating in spring football. They all have the potential to make a big impact during the 2012 season.

UCF also will be welcoming Gabbert and former Georgia Tech offensive lineman Phil Smith.

Gabbert needs to complete an associate's degree at a community college in Missouri, while Smith needs to complete a bachelor's degree at Georgia Tech before enrolling at UCF. The two players are expected to formally join the UCF program this summer.

Gabbert will have three years of eligibility remaining and hopes to compete with redshirt freshman Blake Bortles and a growing list of other quarterbacks for the starting job. Smith, who was a two-year starter at Georgia Tech, will have one year to play one season of football. He is expected to compete immediately for the starting right tackle position and should provide an immediate boost to the offensive line.

Smith and Gabbert signed grant paperwork instead of letters of intent Wednesday, allowing UCF coaches to discuss the players' potential to help the program. Smith and Gabbert said in interviews with the Orlando Sentinel during the past month they are firmly committed to becoming Knights and contributing to the UCF football program as soon as possible.

Check back for live coverage throughout National Signing Day. ilimon@tribune.com or 407-650-6353.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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UCF KnightsFootballCollege SportsSchoolsHigh SchoolsReligion and BeliefTorell Troup
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