UCF’s 2014 recruiting class had a theme — height, weight, speed.

Going into their second season in the American Athletic Conference, the Knights targeted bigger, stronger athletes to help compete against a tough 2014 schedule. UCF squares off against Big Ten team Penn State as well as Missouri of the SEC.

The increased size is evident just by glancing at the list of incoming prospects.

Of the four defensive backs in the class, two are 6-foot tall, and the other two are 6-2. If you watched the Super Bowl, the perks of big corners were evident in the Seattle Seahawks’ destruction of the Denver Broncos.

Richard Sherman and Byron Maxwell, both taller than 6-foot, routinely disrupted the Broncos’ historic passing game and limited Peyton Manning’s team to just eight points.

“(You need big corners) because all the receivers are 6-foot-4, 6-foot-5. Normally, when you get 6-foot-2, 6-foot-3 corners, they have length to them,” UCF head coach George O’Leary said. “I think any time you can get range, height and speed, that’s what you want.”

The value of having lanky corners is realized when facing a team like Missouri — which features the 6-5 mammoth that is Dorial Green-Beckham — whom UCF fans might remember scored a long touchdown by using his size to victimize former cornerback A.J. Bouye.

A lanky corner can get his hands on bigger wide receivers to disrupt timing with the quarterback and potentially re-route the receiver.

Along the defensive line, UCF made a conscious effort to get bigger up front over the years. Strong defensive line play is a calling card of O’Leary’s teams, due to his defensive line coaching background, and the Knights think they have found some solid prospects.

One of UCF’s junior college transfers, defensive tackle Lance McDowdell, is a mountain of a man and looks to be the favorite to start at defensive tackle with Demetris Anderson.

“A guy like McDowdell, he has the body, the frame, the first step, the punch and the strength to get that done for us,” said Lorenzo Costantini, UCF defensive line coach.

The Knights also signed Joey Connors, a 3-star recruit who is 270 pounds, and a prized recruit in Jamiyus Pittman, another 3-star recruit who is 6-2 and 280 pounds.