UCF National Signing Day: Errol Clarke
At first glance, there were a few standouts amongst the 17-player National Signing Day class for the University of Central Florida. However, four-star recruits or not, a handful of newcomers will have the opportunity to gain playing time and maybe even starts in their first season in the Black & Gold.
Over the next few weeks, we will outline the haul that UCF added.
First up is Errol Clarke, the 6-foot-3, 240-pound outside linebacker out of Garden City Community College in Kansas. Rated as the seventh-best inside linebacker prospect in the nation according to 247Sports.com, Clarke is big, but his agility and speed have made him versatile.
Clarke will come into Orlando with three years of eligibility still remaining. While the Knights return star linebacker Terrance Plummer, this incoming sophomore could find a slot at weakside linebacker or spell Plummer during games. The potential to seize playing time from Plummer or current weakside linebackers Willie Mitchell, Troy Gray and Justin McDonald shows just how talented Clarke is.
Plummer led UCF with 110 tackles along with 2.5 sacks and two interceptions on his way to the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl Defensive MVP award and first-team all-American Athletic Conference honors.
Mitchell was penciled in to start outside for the Knights last season before being arrested on DUI charges and suspended for the remainder of the campaign. He should be back and intends to retake his position.
Gray, a rising senior, pushed his way to the forefront with 12 starts last season and was an All-Conference USA Freshman. He had a career-high 62 tackles and two interceptions as a junior.
McDonald, who transitioned from safety to linebacker in freshman season, finished his first year with UCF with three starts. He was called off the scout team midway through the season and accrued 32 tackles and a sack.
All should provide formidable depth and competition for Clarke, yet the Knights staff is so high on Clarke that he could supplant most or all of the linebackers other than Plummer, especially in pass rushing situations. He was a defensive end in high school and provides a skill set on the inside that many of the current players on the roster do not.
Clarke, on Twitter at @_7thehardway, also had offers from Wisconsin, Cincinnati, Kentucky and Kansas State. A graduate of Miami Central in South Florida, he is already chatting up his potential first game in Ireland against Penn State to start the 2014 season on social media.
UCF defensive line coach Lorenzo Costantini pushed hard for Clarke, and the interest paid off when the JUCO star committed verbally in mid-January.
UP NEXT in the UCF National Signing Day series: Kyle Gibson, DB