Demarkcus Bowman, former Lakeland High football star, transfers to UCF from Florida

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Florida Gators running back Demarkcus Bowman (23) runs through a couple of defenders during the second game of the season against the USF Bulls at Raymond James Stadium, in Tampa Fla. Sept. 11, 2021.
Florida Gators running back Demarkcus Bowman (23) runs through a couple of defenders during the second game of the season against the USF Bulls at Raymond James Stadium, in Tampa Fla. Sept. 11, 2021.

UCF added one of Florida high school football's most prized recruits of recent memory to its already loaded running back room.

Demarkcus Bowman, a consensus five-star recruit who earned Mr. Football honors in 2019, exited the NCAA's transfer portal Monday with a commitment to the Knights. Bowman spent one season apiece at Clemson and Florida, totaling 23 carries for 113 yards to this point at the collegiate level.

He appeared in five games for the Gators last fall, rushing 14 times for 81 yards.

Bowman, a 5-foot-9, 192-pound sophomore, compiled 5,081 yards and 70 touchdowns in a three-year career at Lakeland. The Under Armour All-American is the No. 391 all-time ranked recruit in 247Sports history.

Since Bowman has transferred once before, he would need to obtain a waiver from the NCAA in order to gain eligibility for this season. If Bowman sits out the season, he would debut with the Knights as they enter the Big 12 Conference in 2023.

Running back already appeared to be a position of significant strength for UCF entering the fall.

Incumbent starter Isaiah Bowser returned for a fifth year of NCAA eligibility. Speedster Johnny Richardson — a fellow Polk County native, hailing from Lake Wales — rushed for 798 yards on just 115 carries. RJ Harvey returns from an ACL tear, while Mark-Antony Richards and Trilion Coles each saw significant reps while Bowser was sidelined due to injury.

UCF also scooped up a pair of three-star recruits out of the high school ranks in Xavier Townsend and Jordan McDonald, the latter of whom enrolled early after graduating from Milton High in Alpharetta, Ga.

Florida Gators running back Demarkcus Bowman (23) runs with the ball during the second half during the Orange and Blue Spring Game at Steve Spurrier Field at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, FL on Thursday, April 14, 2022. [Matt Pendleton/Gainesville Sun]
Florida Gators running back Demarkcus Bowman (23) runs with the ball during the second half during the Orange and Blue Spring Game at Steve Spurrier Field at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, FL on Thursday, April 14, 2022. [Matt Pendleton/Gainesville Sun]

Head coach Gus Malzahn and his staff have aggressively and consistently dipped into the portal to improve the depth chart. Quarterback John Rhys Plumlee (Ole Miss), wide receivers Kobe Hudson (Auburn) and Javon Baker (Alabama), tight end Kemore Gamble (Florida), offensive tackles Ryan Swoboda (Virginia) and Tylan Grable (Jacksonville State), defensive lineman Lee Hunter (Auburn) and linebackers Bradley Jennings (Kansas State) and Terrence Lewis (Maryland) are among the additions.

The portal, however, is a two-way street. Quarterback Dillon Gabriel (Oklahoma), wide receivers Jaylon Robinson (Ole Miss) and Titus Mokiao-Atimalala (UCLA) and linebacker Tatum Bethune (Florida State) were notable departures for the Knights.

This article originally appeared on The Ledger: NCAA football: Demarkcus Bowman commits to UCF Knights after entering transfer portal, leaving Florida Gators