UCF HC Gus Malzahn Circles ‘Big’ Midseason Matchup for In-State Recruiting War

    Gus Malzahn knows he must win the in-state recruiting war and circled the October 5 matchup with Florida as a pivotal part of his campaign.

    Recruiting in Florida has always been highly competitive thanks to the elevated talent pool within the state borders. Year after year, including this class of incoming freshmen, over 10% of the four-star prospects in any given recruiting cycle attend high school in the Sunshine State.

    Entering his fourth season at the helm of UCF and making his second appearance at Big 12 Media Days, head coach Gus Malzahn knows his school’s conference affiliation allows him to compete with just about anyone on the recruiting trail. That includes the three Florida schools that have won college football national championships within the last quarter century.

    Malzahn Ready To Recruit Against The Likes of Florida, Florida State, and Miami

    We recruit against Florida, Florida State, and Miami; that’s really what it’s about,” Malzahn said during his press conference at Big 12 Media Days in Las Vegas on Wednesday.

    The Knights’ lone non-conference road game in 2024 will take place on Oct. 5, when they travel less than three hours from campus to take on the Florida Gators.

    It will be the fourth meeting between the schools, but the first to take place during the regular season since September 2006, when the seventh-ranked Gators posted a 42-0 shutout over UCF en route to winning the school’s first national championship in two decades.

    The schools last met in the 2021 Union Home Mortgage Gasparilla Bowl during Malzahn’s first season at UCF, which ended in a 29-17 victory for the Knights.

    “It’s really big for us,” Malzahn replied when asked about that game’s recruiting impact in the state. “But the main thing is money — if you have enough money to compete and be competitive. That’s just the bottom line.”

    Of the top 20 recruits from the state of Florida who chose to stay home in the class of 2024, eight committed to Miami, six committed to Florida State, five committed to Florida, one committed to South Florida, and none committed to UCF.

    A favorable result for Malzahn and the Knights on Oct. 5 could have a massive impact on the 2025 recruiting trail.

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