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February 6, 2013

UCF Signing Day Central

UCF's Class of 2013 - the future stars of tomorrow - officially become Knights today once they sign their National Letters of Intent. The group of close to 20 commitments, which is the school's inaugural Big East recruiting class, can begin signing as early as 7 a.m. local time.

The school's official site, UCFAthletics.com, will update the signings list as soon as their faxed paperwork is confirmed by the compliance department.

Three players - Pete DiNovo, Justin Holman and D.J. Killings - graduated from high school in December and have already enrolled.

8 a.m. Update: Four high school players signed in the first hour. Mario Mathis was the first to sign his paperwork and he was quickly followed by Tate Hernly and Justin McDonald. Will Stanback made it official shortly before 8.

9 a.m. Update: Four players signed in the 8 o'clock hour - Deondre Barnett, Shaquem Griffin, Jake Berman and Blake Keller.

10 a.m. Update: UCF received faxes from Jordan Prestwood, Dontravious Wilson, Shaquill Griffin, Aaron Evans and Micah Reed in the 9 o'clock hour.

11:10 a.m. Update: Seyvon Lowry was the only signee in the 10 o'clock hour. Tony Guerad followed shortly after 11.

1:15 p.m. Update: There were rumors of a late push from Auburn, but Chequan Burkett did indeed remain with the Knights and signed at a ceremony at his school. Burkett's signing completes UCF's class at 19 players.

UCF Class of 2013
QB Pete DiNovo
School: Tarpon Springs (Fla.) East Lake

Notes: Enrolled in January and will compete in spring practice. DiNovo earned offers from UCF and USF following standout summer camp performances. Broke the Pinellas County career passing record during his senior season.

Quote: "I feel our 2013 class is one of the best in the country," DiNovo said. "I feel we're going to come in, work hard and be successful over the next few years. We're going to win some championships."
QB Justin Holman
School: Stone Mountain (Ga.) Stephenson

Notes: Enrolled in January and will compete in spring practice. Holman was one of the quarterbacks offered and he committed at the end of his spring practice over Arizona State, Marshall, Missouri, NC State, Southern Miss and Wake Forest.

Quote: "The direction of the program is up and coming," Holman said. "They've had flashes and streaks of wins, but UCF is a place I want to be to help build the program until we reach the top. The location is great. It's in Florida and you can't get any better than that. It's not too far away from my family so I'll still be close. One of the biggest things is that they're moving to the Big East in 2013. That's a big thing."
CB D.J. Killings
School: Jacksonville (Fla.) First Coast

Notes: Enrolled in January and will compete in spring practice. Committed last May over offers from Kentucky, Marshall, Minnesota, USF, Vanderbilt and West Virginia. His friendship with current players Terrance Plummer, Jared Henry and Rannell Hall played a role in his decision.

Quote: "(Plummer, Henry and Hall) told me about how much of a family it was at UCF and how good the environment is there," Killings said. "They just kept talking to me about how good a school UCF is. Henry played here a couple years ago and was always coming back for practices and games and was always talking up UCF."
HB Mario Mathis
School: Thomasville (Ga.)

Notes: Mathis was recruiting by some schools to play linebacker, but UCF is eyeing him as an H-Back who could possibly play right away. Initially had committed to Ole Miss. Suffered an ACL injury as a junior but is now fully healed.

Quote: "My freshman year we're going to the Big East," Mathis said. "I might get to play right away, which would be pretty awesome. Going to a school going into a new conference, it would be a great to help start that legacy in the Big East."
OL Tate Hernly
School: Fort Myers (Fla.)

Notes: Ranked by Rivals.com as nation's No. 20 center. Can also play guard. He committed to UCF last May after taking spring trips to Boston College, Duke and USF.

Quote: "I've always loved it there at UCF," Hernly said. "I loved the school and the program. As I started to visit other schools, it made me realize even more that UCF is the place for me."
LB Justin McDonald
School: Lauderdale Lakes (Fla.) Boyd Anderson

Notes: Committed to UCF after the final official visit weekend. He will play sam linebacker and nickel back. Also visited FIU and Western Kentucky.

Quote: "The way the team is together is like they're brothers for real," McDonald said. "There was no divide. It felt like brothers. A family. I felt it as soon as I got there meeting them for the first time. I felt I was together with the team."
ATH Will Stanback
School: Uniondale (N.Y.)

Notes: Diamond in the rough who went largely unnoticed by colleges, but was recommended by Uniondale assistant coach Tom Watson, who played for George O'Leary at Syracuse. Versatile player who played both sides of the ball as a spread quarterback, running back and linebacker. Combined for more than 5,000 total offensive yards during his four-year career.

Quote: "Some of these other schools missed out on Will," Watson said. "That's what I'm saying about Coach O'Leary. He has the eye. He can see a good recruit. He's just coming in under the radar. That's great for UCF because he's going to surprise a lot of people, but he won't surprise me because I know what he can do."
LB Deondre Barnett
School: Cocoa (Fla.)

Notes: Barnett began his high school career as a basketball player and didn't begin playing football until his junior year. He impressed UCF coaches at a summer camp with his raw athleticism. Competed in both the FACA North/South Game and the Central Florida High School All-Star game.

Quote: "UCF has got a lot of new stuff," Barnett said. "They've got a new fieldhouse. It's the only one in Florida. Even some NFL teams don't have fieldhouses. UCF is very good in the medical field. That's what I want to pursue if I don't make it in the NFL. They're going to the Big East next year so that will be a lot of exposure and a big step for them. I like the coaches a lot."
S Shaquem Griffin
School: St. Petersburg (Fla.) Lakewood

Notes: Born with a deformity that forced the amputation of his left hand as a child, Griffin didn't let that stop him from becoming a top athlete as he was one of the best high school players in the Tampa Bay area. He was also named by the Tampa Bay Times as the 2012 Track and Field Athlete of the Year for Pinellas County. Played in the FACA North/South All-Star Game. Represented Team USA in the International Bowl on Feb. 5 where he snagged an interception. His goal is to take over for Kemal Ishmael at free safety.

Quote: "I think I have a good chance of being on the field," Griffin said. "I want to be a starter and help lead this team. The coaches told me that even though I'll be a freshman, they don't want me to play like a freshman. Play like an upperclassman. That will give me the opportunity to be on the field."
LB Jake Berman
School: Naples (Fla.) Barron Collier

Notes: Berman committed on the spot last June after receiving his dream offer from UCF. Slated to play will or middle linebacker. Known as a weight-room fanatic who lists his favorite player as Terrell Suggs. Competed in both the FACA North/South Game.

Quote: "The thing I like the most are the coaches," Berman said. "They're all about building a good relationship. They want you to first succeed in the classroom. That's first before football. Coach George O'Leary is an old-school guy and he's all about grades, attitude, how you dress and things like that. Academics before football."
DE Blake Keller
School: Bradenton (Fla.) Manatee

Notes: Coaches compare Keller to former UCF great Bruce Miller. They told him he brings a similar motor. Committed to the Knights early last summer over offers from Iowa State, Pittsburgh, USF and West Virginia.

Quote: "I like everything about it," Keller said. "It's close to home. I love the coaches. It's a beautiful campus. I like how they're moving into the Big East, a BCS conference. It's the whole package."
OL Jordan Prestwood
School: Plant City (Fla.) / Notre Dame

Notes: A Class of 2011 prospect was who regarded as one of the state's top recruits, Prestwood initially signed with Florida State before transferring to Notre Dame after one semester. He spent a year in South Bend, but left the team last August and has been enrolled in a local community college. Could become an immediate factor at tackle.

Quote: "I really enjoyed everything about UCF," Prestwood said. "I like the coaches, the campus, the academics and the opportunity. It's only an hour away. The program is heading in a good direction. I feel like it would be a good spot for me."
RB Dontravious Wilson
School: Buford (Ga.)

Notes: Big, bruising running back who can get north and south. Initially committed to Western Kentucky, but reopened his recruitment in January. Chose UCF over offers from USF, Cincinnati, Mississippi State and Southern Miss. Won a state championship at Buford.

Quote: "I want to come in and play as a true freshman," Wilson said. "I know all the players I talked to are excited about the future moving into the Big East. We're going to win a lot of games. There's no doubt about that."
CB Shaquill Griffin
School: St. Petersburg (Fla.) Lakewood

Notes: Named to the Class 5A First Team. Played in the FACA North/South All-Star Game and represented Team USA in the International Bowl on Feb. 5. Chose UCF over offers from Cincinnati, Toledo, Boston College, Illinois, Marshall, Minnesota, USF, Vanderbilt and West Virginia. He got a few more offers than his twin brother Shaquem, but the pair never considered splitting up.

Quote: "I feel like we will make a team better because we play a lot better with each other," Shaquill said. "Growing up he's been here since day one so it would be awkward not playing with him. We have a connection on and off the field."
OL Aaron Evans
School: Seffner (Fla.) Armwood

Notes: Evans played his first three years at Seffner Christian and transferred to Armwood for his senior year. He jumped on the UCF offer last summer and remained firm when USF and Rutgers came calling throughout the fall.

Quote: "UCF is a real nice place," Evans said. "They have real nice facilities, like the indoor practice field. The coaches seem real personable and down to earth. They're concerned for the players and concerned about academics as well. I like how UCF has a lot of things to do on campus and not just simply a school. There's a good ratio of girls to guys so that's pretty cool. It's also close to home, so my family can see me play."
RB Micah Reed
School: Crestview (Fla.)

Notes: UCF's first Class of 2013 commit last March. Recruited to be UCF's future feature running back. Generated early offers from Kentucky, Vanderbilt, Cincinnati, Florida, Indiana, Louisville, Mississippi State and Purdue. Texas offered in January. Remained firm to UCF throughout the process.

Quote: "I just really like the program and where it's going," Reed said. "They're getting in on the right foot entering the BIG EAST. They have a good reputation for producing good running backs. I want to be a part of that tradition and continue that line of great running backs to come out of there."
LB Seyvon Lowry
School: Jacksonville (Fla.) First Coast

Notes: Rated by Rivals.com as the nation's No. 40 weakside defensive end, but UCF plans to give him his first shot at outside linebacker. Committed last May over offers from Cincinnati, Kentucky, Ole Miss, North Carolina and West Virginia.

Quote: "I like the fact it's close to home and just a two-hour drive," Lowry said. "It's not hard for me to get back and forth. I like what they had to offer. UCF is moving into the Big East which is bigger and better competition. You really can't beat it."
DL Tony Guerad
School: Tampa (Fla.) Tampa Bay Tech

Notes: Earned offers from Kentucky, Cincinnati, Iowa State and Syracuse, but was waiting for one from UCF and once he got it last October he immediately committed. The Knights see him as a three-technique who could also play some downs at defensive end.

Quote: "I love everything about UCF," Guerad said. "They've got a good program going on. I love the education system. I like how they're joining the Big East next year and that's one of the reasons why I committed. We're going to be working towards that BCS National Championship."
LB Chequan Burkett
School: Montgomery (Ala.) Carver

Notes: Committed to UCF in the last weeks before signing day amid heavy interest from Auburn and Missouri. He was already familiar with new UCF assistant coach Lorenzo Costantini, who had recruited him when he was at Southern Miss. Recruited by some schools to play safety, but UCF sees him as an outside linebacker.

Quote: "I liked the campus and all the new buildings," Burkett said. "I really liked the coaches and the stadium. It's great surroundings and there's a lot of things to do when it's not football season. The weather is great being in the South. There's good weather every day."


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