Just as it did in January with an upset of Baylor in the Fiesta Bowl, UCF made a splash on signing day as St. Marys (Ga.) Camden County DB Chris Williams flipped from Alabama to the Knights.
The three-star defensive back was a longtime Tide recruit but was courted late by the Knights. Williams hosted Tide coaches as recently as last week, according to media reports. But Williams signed with the Knights on Wednesday. "Imma UCF Knight #ChargeOn," he tweeted.
Coach George O'Leary said getting Williams and convincing other recruits to give UCF a chance was key.
"I think the big thing with guys like Chris Williams," he said, "when they come down to campus, they go, 'Whoa!' "
JUMPING SHIP: The Knights benefited from James Franklin's departure from Vanderbilt to coach Penn State. Armwood S Kyle Gibson abandoned an oral commitment to the Commodores and signed with UCF.
"With UCF, I just felt like it was the best fit for me even after everything happened. Everything just kind of happened for a reason," said Gibson, who had 67 tackles for the Hawks last season. "I definitely feel like (UCF is) a program on the rise."
STAYING FIRM: C.J. Jones committed to UCF last spring and never showed any signs of wavering. But the Port Orange Atlantic running back remained excited during the Sharks' signing ceremony.
"It was actually more than what I expected," Jones said in a school media center packed with teammates, classmates, coaches, family and teachers. "This turnout was big. I was sitting there about to cry. It's a little bit overwhelming."
Jones said his first thought as he awoke Wednesday was realizing he had to keep pushing.
"Everything I did to get to this point, I need to keep doing times 10," he said. "You can't just stay where you are."
TOP CLASS: Some believe this is UCF's best class ever.
"I really think looking throughout the years as far as recruiting is concerned, from a height-weight-speed factor, I think this class is probably the top class," O'Leary said. "They have to prove themselves on the field, but I do think what I've seen watching tape … some of them are going to have an opportunity to help this team next year."
IMPACT PLAYERS: The Orlando Sentinel's list of five likely to have the most impact: Gibson, Nassau Community College DT Lance McDowdell, Garden City Junior College LB Errol Clarke, Moultrie (Ga.) Colquitt County DT Jamiyus Pittman and Smyrna (Ga.) Campbell DB Mike Rogers.
Times staff writer Kelly Parsons contributed to this report, which used information from the Orlando Sentinel.