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Sideline Scene
Windermere Observer Wednesday, Jun. 15, 2016 2 years ago

SIDELINE SCENE: Budding pipeline from DP to UCF could be boon for area

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The new coaching staff for UCF has extended scholarship offers to four current members of the Dr. Phillips football team — including rising senior quarterback Marvin Washington, who committed to the Knights June 4.
by: Steven Ryzewski Senior Sports Editor

Marvin Washington got the offer he had been hoping for.

For the rising senior quarterback at Dr. Phillips High, the recruiting interest from Division I schools already had materialized, but there was one school the Panthers standout was hoping would extend an offer before he made a decision on committing. 

After a stellar performance in a 7-on-7 camp June 2 at UCF, Washington got the offer he wanted — and two days later he announced his intentions to become a UCF Knight.

“I’ve had about 14 offers … but I was really waiting to get a UCF offer, because that’s the one school I’ve been waiting on,” Washington said. “UCF was the perfect fit for me — the distance, the location, the type of offense. Everything just fell in line.”

More than just an exciting opportunity for one player on Dr. Phillips’ loaded roster for the 2016 season, Washington’s offer and commitment appear to be the latest developments in a trend that has emerged since Scott Frost became the head coach at UCF in early December.

Within his first week on the job, Frost locked up commitments from a trio of local players who were seniors at the time (now graduated) — including Panthers speedster Jaquarius “Q” Bargnare. 

In addition to offering Washington, UCF has offered Dr. Phillips teammates, including Nick Smith (rising senior linebacker), Robert Porcher (rising senior defensive end) and John Campbell (rising junior offensive lineman). 

Already on campus is former Panthers standout quarterback Nick Patti.

And although the link between UCF and Dr. Phillips does predate the Frost-era (Patti joined the Knights while former coach George O’Leary was still on campus, and the recruitment of Bargnare began with O’Leary’s staff), it seems clear the new staff for the Knights — which has been open about making recruiting in Central Florida a top priority — has identified a potential pipeline of talent in the Panthers.

Washington is thrilled that he and his teammates are being recognized by the hometown Division I program.

“It’s very exciting,” Washington said. “It’s really good to see (UCF) reaching out — all over Central Florida and at our school.”

To be sure, some of the other Dr. Phillips players who have received interest from UCF do not have the Knights as high on their list as Washington does. But, whether or not those players end up at UCF, it is clear that recruiting locally and building a relationship with a program like Dr. Phillips is a priority for the Knights — and that’s exciting for programs beyond the Panthers, too.

For whatever reason, UCF previously had trouble recruiting locally. There were some exceptions,  but it always seemed odd that — out of so many good local players — more of these Central Florida-based players were not enticed by the idea of playing big-time college football close to home, where their family and friends were more able to see them play in person. 

The narrative from the old coaching staff often went that players wanted to get away from home, while local high-school coaches often told a different story — one about how good players would hardly get a look from UCF before being snatched up by a Division I program out of state.

Whatever the case, there seems to be a shift in that relationship since the young and energetic Frost-led staff arrived in east Orlando. 

Beyond Dr. Phillips, that’s good news for programs such as West Orange, Olympia, Ocoee and even some of the area’s private schools. 

Yes, some athletes are going to have their sights set on the even-brighter lights of playing for a Power Five program in the SEC or Big 10, and some will want to have the experience moving farther away from home, but there seemingly will be a greater opportunity than before to earn a scholarship offer here close to home.

If you’re good, there’s a strong chance the hometown university is going to make a point of trying to keep you in the Greater Orlando area.

Sort of seems like that’s how it should be, anyway — doesn’t it?

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