Got talent? Here is a breakdown of where your favorite college football team stands going into National Signing Day on Wednesday, according to CollegeFootballNews.com (Rankings based on CFN’s preseason team rankings within the conference):
1. Louisiana Tech (8-5)
What’s Needed Now: Not much. Head coach Sonny Dykes had the WAC’s best recruiting class last year and loaded up in a big way on the defensive line and the secondary over the last two seasons. Now it’s about trying to find a few stars to add to the mix. This isn’t likely to be a big class in any one area, but 2013 will be when the big haul has to come.
Team Concerns: The defensive front seven. Fortunately, the prospects were stockpiled to be ready to come up with a few good battles for this season. Both starting ends are gone, including Matt Broha, and linebackers Adrien Cole and Jay Dudley will be missed. More options at running back are a must with Lennon Creer done, while the focus of the offense will be on a quarterback battle between Colby Cameron and Nick Isham.
2. Utah State (7-6)
What’s Needed Now: The Aggies need to upgrade the running back corps with Robert Turbin and Michael Smith gone. The depth needs to be developed and any newcomers will get every shot to see time right away. After going heavy on the junior-college transfers over the last few years, head coach Gary Andersen is in a more secure position and the program can go after more freshmen options to build for down the road.
Team Concerns: Besides running back, the Aggies need help on the ends with Levi Koskan and Quinn Garner gone. The bigger problem, though, is at inside linebacker with tackling-machine Bobby Wagner and Kyle Gallagher gone. The help might not be there right away from this class, but next year the prospects will have to come. This class will be to try to fill in a few gaps.
3. San Jose State (5-7)
What’s Needed Now: Tight ends. Things are starting to look up for San Jose State with a strong team returning, head coach Mike MacIntyre getting an extension, and a winning season and a WAC title both reasonable goals. Now it’s time to look forward, and for MacIntyre to run his offense like he wants to, he needs good pass-catching tight ends to take over once Ryan Otten leaves.
Team Concerns: The quarterback situation. Matt Faulkner is gone, leaving Blake Jurich and Dasmen Stewart to battle it out. Both are big, strong bombers, while Joe Gray, the star of last year’s class, is a do-it-all type with a world of upside. Defensively, the linebacking corps needs work even though Keith Smith is back as one of the WAC’s top defenders. Safety Duke Ihenacho will be sorely missed.
4. Idaho (2-10)
What’s Needed Now: The Vandals need to get the passing game going again, and fast. Last year’s class brought in a slew of receivers and quarterback prospects, and next year will be Round 2. The receivers should be one of the biggest strengths of the class, and more quarterbacks are coming in for developing by 2014 and beyond. The new-look WAC isn’t going to be like the old-school shootout version, but Idaho is trying to become equipped to put more points on the board.
Team Concerns: The defense needs better playmaking linebackers. Tre’Shawn Robinson is gone from the middle and Korey Toomer is done from the outside, and the depth isn’t exactly deep. Three starters have to be replaced from an offensive line that wasn’t consistent, but this year’s class won’t bring any instant solutions.
5. New Mexico State (4-9)
What’s Needed Now: More and more and more instant options. Head coach DeWayne Walker has been able to build a little bit from the freshman classes, but he’s gone heavy after JUCO, JUCO, JUCO over the last few years. This season’s haul won’t be any different. The Aggies have to reload at several spots and need an overhaul on the lines. While the offensive side isn’t going to get an influx of talent, the defense is about to get several ready-made options.
Team Concerns: The offensive line. The defensive side will be one of the big focuses of the class, but the O line has the bigger issues with three starters gone along with a few backups. Receivers Todd Lee and Taveon Rogers are done, as is starting quarterback Matt Christian, who took over and did a nice job.
6. Texas State (6-6)
What’s Needed Now: Head coach Dennis Franchione has to go heavy to upgrade an offensive line that loses three starters and needs more quality depth. The defensive line also needs help with the depth on the ends lacking. For now, simply coming up with more FBS bodies is the main job, and the opportunities will be there for young players to be in the hunt for playing time.
Team Concerns: Besides the offensive line, the Bobcats have to come up with more options for a linebacking corps that wasn’t all that great last year and now has to replace Josh Minde on the strong side and Bryan Iwuji in the middle. The biggest issue, though, is the left side of the O line with tackle Michael Chambers and guard Jon Vernon gone.
7. Texas-San Antonio (4-6)
What’s Needed Now: The Roadrunners haven’t had too much time getting ready for life in the WAC, but head coach Larry Coker has a young — and we mean young — team without many glaring personnel needs. Redshirt freshmen are the norm across the board with only two upperclassmen among the 24 players on the offensive two-deep, and there’s only one player needing to be replaced on defense.
Team Concerns: The WAC loses Hawaii, but it’ll still be important to generate more of a pass rush with all the young talent ready to fly around. The offense will take its lumps for a little while, but in time it’ll mature into something potentially strong going into 2013.