Top high school prospects take in War on I-4 between UCF and USF

Chris Hays/Orlando Sentinel
·3 min read

Several top prospects from the Central Florida area were in attendance for the War On I-4 matchup between UCF and South Florida on Friday night.

The rivalry series between the two schools has extended into recruiting over the years.

UCF had multiple 2022 verbal commits watching from the Bounce House, including Ware County (Ga.) quarterback Thomas Castellanos, Boone offensive lineman Leyton Nelson, and Lakeland defensive lineman Keahnist Thompson.

All three have been verbally committed to UCF for some time, but the Knights will need to continue to recruit them until they sign on the dotted line during the Early Signing Period in December.

As for targets UCF has on its priority list, Ocoee defensive lineman Jordan Phillips is near the top. Phillips was on campus over the summer but is verbally pledged to former UCF coach Josh Heupel and Tennessee.

A late addition to the visitor list was Gaither defensive lineman Mario Eugenio. At 6-foot-3 and 240 pounds, he’s a 4-star prospect, according to 247Sports. AAC-foe Cincinnati is involved in Eugenio’s recruitment.

Looking beyond the 2022 recruiting class, Osceola defensive linemen Derrick LeBlanc and John Walker also were at UCF. Both are 4-star prospects in the 2023 class on 247Sports and have checked out the campus in the past.

The Knights are hoping to continue to dip into the Lakeland area by hosting 2023 wide receiver Tyler Williams for a visit. UCF has two Lakeland prospects committed in the 2022 class in offensive lineman Miguel Maldonado and Thompson.

Also in the 2023 recruiting class, Lewis Carter, a 4-star athlete out of Tampa Catholic, and Ocoee 3-star safety Zachary Tobe, made the trip.

Bowser out of action

UCF running back Isaiah Bowser suited up for the Knights but didn’t start against the Bulls. The redshirt senior also dressed against SMU and UConn but didn’t play.

Bowser’s appeared in 7 games, accounting for 549 yards and 7 touchdowns, but injuries limited his availability. His last appearance was against Tulane on Nov. 6 when he finished with 54 yards on 14 carries in a 14-10 win.

Redshirt sophomore Mark-Antony Richards started the game while sophomore Johnny Richardson shared the tailback duties.

USF homecoming

USF quarterback Timmy McClain (Seminole High), receivers Jimmy Horn Jr. (Seminole High) and Xavier Weaver (Orlando Christian Prep) and running back Kelley Joiner Jr. (South Lake High) made their return to the Orlando area.

McClain took over as the Bulls’ starting quarterback in Week 3 against Florida A&M and started in nine of the last 10 games. The freshman’s accounted for 1,921 total yards and 8 touchdowns.

Weaver entered as the team’s leading receiver with 37 catches for 640 yards and 2 touchdowns, while Horn is second with 27 catches for 353 yards and a touchdown.

Joiner is the Bulls’ third leading rusher with 472 yards and 2 touchdowns.

This article first appeared on Email Matt Murschel at or follow him on Twitter at @osmattmurschel.

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