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. SMU (8-5)
What’s Needed Now: The defensive line. June Jones went hard after the offense the last few years to get the players he needs to run his attack, and now it’s time to fortify the front wall that’s going to need prospects to develop for 2014. The offense won’t be ignored, but the key players are going to be for the line instead of among the skill players.
Team Concerns: Offensive line. Two starting receivers are gone, as is starting quarterback J.J. McDermott, but there are players in place to be just fine. The offensive line, though, is a huge concern with all five starters gone and backup center Blake McJunkin also done. Two starters are gone in the secondary and defensive end is a concern with Taylor Thompson and Szymon Czerniak done on the left side.
2. Tulsa (8-5)
What’s Needed Now: Receivers. It’s not a glaring need after loading up with talent in 2009, but the coaching staff will be looking for down the road with options to keep the high-octane attack going. There isn’t any one major issue for this year’s class to address, so it’ll be about trying to upgrade the talent level across the board. Defensively, the back seven will get the most attention.
Team Concerns: Quarterback. G.J. Kinne was one of college football’s most underappreciated quarterbacks, playing in a league with Case Keenum and hidden in anonymity in a state with Oklahoma and Oklahoma State. He’ll be missed, meaning Kalen Henderson will have the pressure on to shine right away this offseason. Star recruit Dane Evans will get a long look at being the No. 2.
3. Houston (13-1)
What’s Needed Now: Can new head man Tony Levine keep the fun going? Quarterback isn’t a big priority – even with Case Keenum and Cotton Turner gone – thanks to the 2010 class. Receiver isn’t a concern after bringing in a slew of talents last year. The defensive front seven will get the most attention with Levine working hardest for the line while also looking at linebacker for a few key prospects.
Team Concerns: Passing game. Did Kevin Sumlin do his job recruiting over the last few seasons? David Piland is the likely new starting quarterback, but the pecking order has to quickly be determined. Patrick Edwards, Tyron Carrier and Justin Johnson are all gone. Daniel Spencer could be the key pickup from last year’s class for this year’s receiving corps.
4. Rice (4-8)
What’s Needed Now: The Owls have worked on defense over the last few recruiting classes, but the efforts haven’t exactly paid off so far. However, there’s a decent base of underclassmen ready to show what they can do. Now the program needs to find more firepower with several key skill players going and more playmakers a must.
Team Concerns: The offensive line is a huge problem with four starters gone and the backup center, Eric Ball, also done. The opening is there for a newcomer to start right away, and a few decent prospects are on the way in Connor Patterson and Spencer Stanley. Defensive tackle is also a major concern with little proven depth to play around with.
5. UTEP (5-7)
What’s Needed Now: The Miners have loaded up for the passing game over the past few classes, but the defense needs to finally be addressed a bit more with a talent upgrade. Mike Price went after linemen in 2009, and he’s going to do it again with prospects mostly for the defensive interior.
Team Concerns: Linebacker. The UTEP starting three are gone and linebacker is going to be a glaring issue in 2013. It’s going to take a few recruiting classes to improve the front seven, but more than anything else, the team needs bodies. The depth has to be improved across the board while hoping for some of the recruiting classes from the last few seasons to provide the offensive pop.
6. Tulane (2-11)
What’s Needed Now: Players who will do what Curtis Johnson wants. The Green Wave has to get the passing game going, and Johnson, the new head man, will want to wing the ball all over the yard. Quarterback is fine for the next two years, but the position will be an issue by 2014. Upgrading the pass catchers and the team speed will be vital, even with last year’s class focusing on the receivers.
Team Concerns: Johnson has to build up the infrastructure, the lines, and then he can hope for everything else to work. The defensive line is going to be very, very young. Three starters are gone, but there’s a decent nucleus of underclassmen to build around. The offensive line might require the most immediate help with three starters gone and an infusion of decent backups needed.