Signing Day needs: Sun Belt
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. FIU (8-5)
What’s needed now: Receivers. Everything should be fine for this year, even with T.Y. Hilton gone, but the Golden Panthers need offensive pop after focusing on the defensive side for the last few seasons. This class will be loaded with receiver options, but the defense isn’t going to be ignored with the outside linebacker position getting plenty of new bodies.
Team concerns: Offensive stars. QB Wesley Carroll split time and Jake Medlock is ready, but the attack needs someone who can produce more big plays with Hilton gone and Darriet Perry needing to be replaced at running back. The defense gets everyone back, with years of loading up with prospects about to pay off.
2. Western Kentucky (7-5)
What’s needed now: Head coach Willie Taggert is paving the road for the lines. The offensive line is about to get an important infusion to build for 2014 and beyond. The line might not be a need right now, but it’s going to get the most key players with some huge bodies ready to blast away for the interior.
Team concerns: Bobby Rainey. The Hilltoppers are losing their heart-and-soul running back who carried the offense. Losing left tackle Wes Jeffries is also a concern. Those are the only two seniors gone from the offense, including the backups. Placekicker Casey Tinius is gone, meaning Jesse Roy from last year’s class has to prove he’s ready to be the main man.
3. Louisiana-Lafayette (9-4)
What’s needed now: Receiver. The offensive line got a slew of prospects last year, but head coach Mark Hudspeth is still going after more options, especially for the inside. The receiving corps is fine for next season, but it needs more options who can battle for starting jobs in 2013 and beyond. This class will have strength in numbers.
Team concerns: Defensive line. The offense will be the star of the show again even with TE Ladarius Green and three starters gone. The 2009 recruiting class loaded up with players for the line, and now it’s time for Brandon McCray and others to come through.
4. Arkansas State (10-3)
What’s needed now: Skill players. Last year’s class focused on the offensive backfield. The transfer of Auburn’s Michael Dyer will eventually give new head coach Gus Malzahn a star to work around, but this year’s class is will be loaded with running backs. Quarterback is the concern going into 2013, and this year’s class will bring options.
Team concerns:The Red Wolves need defensive linemen. The front four loses three starters and several key backup options, while the secondary also needs help after losing three starters and three quality reserves. The 2010 class worked on bringing in defensive linemen, and some patching will have to be quickly done.
5. North Texas (5-7)
What’s needed now: The defensive front. Dan McCarney is a defensive coach by nature, and while his group made strides last year, now he wants to improve for the next few years, especially at tackle. This will be a class based on variety with a sprinkling of players for all spots except for linebacker, which will be the focus in 2013.
Team concerns: The secondary needs to replace three starters, but former head coach Todd Dodge saw this coming and brought in loads of defensive backs over the last few classes. The junior college ranks were hit hard a few years ago, and those players are gone meaning last year’s class has to play a big role. Finding a running back to take over for Lance Dunbar, who carried the offense, is a must.
6. ULM (4-8)
What’s needed now: Defensive back. The Warhawks will be going after a huge class with a little something for everyone, but the secondary will get the most attention with a slew of safeties coming in for the 3-3-5 alignment. There’s no need to go after anyone for the offensive backfield with the shelves stocked for a few years, but a few receivers will come in to provide more options for Todd Berry’s four and five-wide sets.
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Team concerns: Defensive end. The D needs a slew of new players to come in at linebacker and corner, but the defensive line needs more prospects with Troy Evans and Ken Dorsey, two of the big ends who’ll be sorely missed. The offensive line is set for a while, but more tackles to develop for down the road will be important.
7. Middle Tennessee (2-10)
What’s needed now: Receivers. The Blue Raiders haven’t been shy about going after skill players over the last few classes, and last year was about beefing up the lines, but the offense needs more pop. There’s no receiver depth to count on going into the year, so the junior college route might be important to help out.
Team concerns: Defensive back is the biggest issue with all four starters gone. After going to junior colleges for some instant impact players over the last few years, it would be nice to find a shutdown corner to rely on. Linebacker is also a must. There are some nice prospects waiting in the wings, and they’ll need to step up right away with Darin Davis and Gorby Loreus gone.
8. Troy (3-9)
What’s needed now: The Trojans came up with the Sun Belt’s best recruiting class last season and is scheduled to bring in another whopper. The defensive line has been worked on over the past few seasons, and now it should be about the skill spots with several running back prospects ready to beef things up after all the top running options are scheduled to be gone after next year.
Team concerns: Linebackers. The kicking game needs instant help with place kicker Michael Taylor and punter Will Goggans gone, meaning junior college transfer Will Scott will be asked to fight for the punting job, and Ryan Key will get a shot for the placekicking gig. The linebacking corps has a few good players returning, but they will mine the junior college ranks for speedy options.
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9. South Alabama (6-4)
What’s needed now: Offensive line. The Jaguars are going to have to build from the inside out with the line depth gone. This year’s class will go big on guard and center, while the secondary will get some instant help from the junior college ranks. Corner options are going to be a must.
Team concerns: The defense should be terrific with most of the key parts back from a great FCS unit, but the offense needs to work on the line, and tight end is a big concern with Kevin Helms and Paul Bennett gone. Overall, the team needs more veteran depth, but that will come with time.
10. Florida Atlantic (1-11)
What’s needed now: Carl Pelini is taking over the head coaching job, so the defense is going to be a primary focus with the secondary a major need and outside linebacker needing to be addressed. However, the offense was miserable last year and needs an upgrade. The quarterbacks came in a few years ago, with Stephan Curtis soon to be a factor, but playmakers across the offensive board will be used.
Team concerns: Offense, offense, offense. There’s enough returning talent to hope for a far better season, but after last year’s disaster, the attack has a long way to go to be decent. Running back is the biggest problem with Alfred Morris and Willie Floyd gone; Pelini could go look to junior college recruits to help things right away.