Academics sold Jolly on UCF

Brandon Helwig, Publisher
UCF Sports

In recruiting, sometimes flash is valued over substance.

Sure, things like facilities and shiny uniforms are nice to have, but at the end of the day you go to college for an education. That wasn't lost on recent commit Patrick Jolly Jr., who cited academics as the primary reason he chose the Knights over schools like North Carolina, West Virginia and USF.

"I think the biggest part of it was seeing UCF's graduation rate," Jolly said. "I don't want to bash any other schools, but one of the other schools I was considering had like a 54 percent graduation rate. I'm really big on education. I want to better myself for the future. UCF has a 94 percent graduation rate, way higher than any other school."

As an athletic program, UCF has boasted the highest Graduation Success Rate (GSR) among FBS public institutions for three consecutive years. The Academic Progress Rate (APR) for football is always near the top of the rankings. The most current rankings, effective through the 2015-16 academic year, placed UCF fifth among public schools trailing only Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Louisville.

Jolly, who attends Newsome High School on the outskirts of Tampa, also appreciated that UCF's coaches made it clear he was a priority.

"I'd rather be somebody's No. 1 choice than somebody else's No. 5 choice," Jolly said. "I wasn't a top target for some of the other schools. They were like, 'All right, if this kid doesn't commit,' then they'd pick me. But if you really wanted me, you'd want me right now."

Jolly publicly announced his decision last Friday, though he had informed the UCF coaches a few days before. His recruiter was running backs coach Ryan Held.

"I first called Coach Held and told him," Jolly said. "I told him that I had talked to my family and UCF was the right choice. They were all happy, shouting over the phone, having a good time. I was a recruit they definitely really wanted."

As a junior, Jolly primarily saw action at running back, rushing for 797 yards on 86 carries with nine touchdowns while catching eight passes for 80 yards. UCF likes him as an offensive athlete with an emphasis on running back.

"I won't be like a three-down back," Jolly said. "I'll be a running back, but they can also play me at slot receiver. I'm pretty quick. I'm tall and versatile. I love the offense. It's a fast-paced offense which is what we do at my high school. Outside zone, inside zone. A couple passes here and there. This is the offense I've been running my whole life."

Jolly also said the close proximity to home - about an hour and a half drive - is a bonus.

"My friends and family love it," he said. "They all said they're excited because they can still see me play which might not have been the case if I went out of state. It's a big relief to my family too. It will save money on travel."

Jolly is now getting acquainted with the rest of the 2018 commits. He's already friends with Justin McGriff, who plays at nearby Tampa-Jefferson.

"Justin just invited me into a group chat with all the other commits," Jolly said. "I'm chatting with them now."

Aside from his primary goal of graduating with a quality degree, Jolly says he wants to do whatever it takes to help the team win.

"I want to be the kind of person that everybody remembers," Jolly said. "Just a humble team player. I like leading my team. Making sure everybody is on the same page and all are connected. My goal is to be team leader and help lead us to victory."

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