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. UCF (5-7)
What’s Needed Now: A passing game. The Knights haven’t been big on pushing the ball down the field under head coach George O’Leary, choosing to mostly pound away with the ground attack. The quarterback situation is solid for the next few seasons with Jeff Godfrey and Blake Bortles in place, but adding more to the receiving corps would be nice. The program hasn’t gone hard after skill players in a few years, but this season that should change.
Team Concerns: The kicking game. The Knights are loaded with experience just about everywhere, and they should be terrific on defense. Big-tackling middle linebacker Josh Linam is done, and the defensive line could use a few more options, but everything is in place for a huge year. However, kicker Nick Cattoi is gone and the punting situation has to be addressed for 2013 and beyond.
2. Southern Miss (12-2)
What’s Needed Now: The offensive backfield. New head coach Ellis Johnson doesn’t necessarily need quarterback and running back options for right now, and the skill spots were addressed over the last two recruiting classes, but that doesn’t mean that more options wouldn’t be nice. Arsenio Favor is the top quarterback option going into next year, but Anthony Alford is one of the nation’s top prospects and good enough to push for the starting job.
Team Concerns: The defensive front seven. Depending on the alignment, six starters are gone off the front and the depth will be a bit of a problem. This class will come up with linebackers and a few junior-college prospects, but there won’t be enough to make a big push even with so many jobs wide open. Both starting offensive tackles are gone.
3. East Carolina (5-7)
What’s Needed Now: Offense. The Pirates haven’t had too much of a problem putting up points and getting the passing game going under Ruffin McNeill, but now he needs to load up for the near future. More receiver talent is a must, but coming up with more options for the offensive line is also a need that’ll be addressed. After bringing in a slew of defensive backs in 2009, this year’s class needs more for the future.
Concerns For 2012: Defensive back. It’s time for that 2009 class to kick in with three starters gone. The leader, QB Dominique Davis, has to be replaced — with Rio Johnson getting the first look. He’ll need time to work behind a line that should be good in time, but needs a new left tackle to take over for Steven Baker.
4. Marshall (7-6)
What’s Needed Now: Offensive linemen. Doc Holliday has a ton of quarterback prospects in place, a true sophomore in Rakeem Cato to work around, and more talent on the way, and now he needs linemen to keep the passers clean. With both starting tackles gone, the outside of the line will get really young, really fast, opening the door for a few junior-college transfers.
Team Concerns: Offensive line. Along with both starting tackles done, so is right guard John Bruhin. Defensive playmakers need to emerge with end Vinny Curry, safety Omar Brown, and six starters gone, but there’s more speed and athleticism coming up than the program has had in the last several years. That talent has to show up on the outside with linebackers George Carpenter and Tyson Gale done, along with backup middle option Kellen Harris.
5. UAB (3-9)
What’s Needed Now: New head coach Garrick McGee wants a passing game. There are young passers in place in Jonathan Perry and Joe Bento, but there’s an opening to create a good battle for the job and there’s a chance for a good receiver to quickly make a splash. The lines are fine for now, but the secondary needs more help.
Team Concerns: Defensive tackle. Deric Scott and Micky Jackson are good-sized young players each looking to step up next year, but they’ll have to prove they can hold up. The Blazers went hard after safeties in 2009, and now they have to come through with all four starters gone from the secondary and cornerback a major issue.
6. Memphis (2-10)
What’s Needed Now: After going after skill players over the last two classes, Memphis will be hitting the defensive side hard. New head coach Justin Fuentes has to upgrade the offensive line to allow all the young playmakers to shine. While the Tigers should be fine for the next year or so, Fuentes needs players to develop for 2014.
Team Concerns: Defensive line. Both starting ends are done and top tackle Dontari Poe is leaving early for the NFL. The linebackers should be fine for now and the secondary will be a positive soon, but none of it will matter without a good rotation up front. This recruiting class, though, won’t be searching for any instant answers.