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FSU commit Ethan Pritchard remains firm with Seminoles, but UCF on his mind

UCF had about 50 recruits on hand Friday night at the Knights’ annual spring game, and several local players expressed their interest in possibly playing at the Bounce House one day.

One of those interested onlookers was Ethan Pritchard, a standout linebacker at Seminole High who is currently committed to FSU.

“I’m 100 percent committed, but I’m exploring right now,” Pritchard said.

Pritchard, who is currently ranked as the No. 7 prospect in the Sentinel’s 2025 Central Florida recruiting rankings, said it’s possible that he could consider joining the Seminole pipeline to UCF.

That pipeline has run quite freely in recent years, bringing in players such as new Jacksonville Jaguars receiver Gabe Davis and former cornerback Bam Moore  as well as current players in twin defensive backs Demari Henderson and Ja’Cari Henderson along with tight end Jordan Davis — Gabe’s brother — and linebacker Kam Moore, Bam’s brother.

“I could definitely see myself playing here [UCF],” Pritchard said Friday night. “I really like coach [Ted] Roof and how they rotate in the linebackers and everybody gets playing time. I’m really liking it.”

The Seminole pipeline is certainly intriguing.

“Of course. There are players here who I played with my freshman year, so most definitely it would be real fun to be playing with them,” Pritchard said.

He said the twins are in his ear quite often.

“Yeah, they don’t really pressure me or anything like that, but they put it out there every now and then,” Pritchard said. “They’re always saying, ‘You know where home’s at,’ stuff like that. … but they don’t really press me.”

He said staying close to home is certainly appealing.

“Yeah, I want everybody in my family to see me play,” Pritchard said.

A few other top targets for the Knights are a pair of 2026 linebackers in Kingston Shaw of Apopka and Michael McClenton of Ocoee.

UCF target Kingston Shaw, a 2026 linebacker from Apopka, is going to be the next big thing for the Blue Darters. (Chris Hays/Orlando Sentinel)
UCF target Kingston Shaw, a 2026 linebacker from Apopka, is going to be the next big thing for the Blue Darters. (Chris Hays/Orlando Sentinel)

Shaw, with his size at 6-foot-4, 225 pounds and growing, will likely end up as a rush end in college and has the speed and athleticism to play anywhere around the defensive edges, whether that is at  end or outside linebacker.

“I’m really liking UCF,” Shaw said. “It’s a nice, close proximity to home, a good environment and I have a couple of former teammates I played with who are now at UCF.  … I feel good about it.”

Those former teammates include sophomore defensive end Kaven Call and cornerback Nikai Martinez.

“Yeah, Kaven has been saying things like, ‘So, you coming to UCF?’ ” Shaw laughed. “I definitely could see myself here [at UCF]. All my family could come over. It would be really cool.”

Shaw missed two games last year but had 56 tackles — six per game. He is but a blip on the recruiting radar, but he is surely soon to blow up and is the next big star out of Apopka.

“Recruiting is going really well right now and it’s just about to ramp up come spring,” Shaw said. “The first thing overall [coaches say] is that I pass the eye test. They like my size, my speed, the way I play on the field.

“I’m really looking forward to this next season. I’m really gonna have to step up as a leader. We have a really nice schedule and we play a lot of tough teams. I feel really confident, though.”

Being the next big thing for the Blue Darters could place pressure on Shaw’s shoulders, but he shrugs it off.

“It’s not really pressure when you’re confident,” Shaw said. “I’ve already been prepared for it by people prior, so I have just developed as a leader. It’s really just passing the baton. That’s it.”

UCF target Michael McClenton, a 2026 linebacker at Ocoee, averaged 20 tackles per game last season. (Chris Hays/Orlando Sentinel.)
UCF target Michael McClenton, a 2026 linebacker at Ocoee, averaged 20 tackles per game last season. (Chris Hays/Orlando Sentinel.)

The 6-foot, 220-pound McClenton has not been offered by UCF yet, but he is certainly interested in staying home. He said of all schools he would consider, UCF is at the top of his list.

Despite averaging 20 tackles per game, easily an Ocoee record, McClenton is not on the radar of most recruiting boards. His size will hamper him a bit as he tries to gain attention, and that lack of attention can sometimes be confusing, if not frustrating.

McClenton, however, says frustrated is not a word that would describe him.

“As long as you trust in God, He knows when my time is coming and He will let me know when that time is here,” said McClenton, who has one Football Bowl Subdivision scholarship offer from Marshall. “Right now I’m just an under-sized kid and that’s why a lot of schools look over me, but at the end of the day, it’s all about who plays football … who makes plays.

“Once they catch on to that, my recruiting will pick up.”

He said he could see himself playing at UCF and staying home would be nice, but being close to home will not determine his decision.

“It’s important, but it’s not a need. I really like [UCF] and I really like the coaches and the way they showed me love,” McClenton said. “I like the way they play their linebackers and their defensive scheme, and their coaching staff, the way they show the recruits love to me and my family. … and how together they are as a family.”

Chris Hays covers high school and college football, as well as college football recruiting. He can be found on X @OS_ChrisHays. He can be reached via email at moc.lenitnesodnalro@syahc.

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