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. Georgia (10-4)
What’s Needed Now: Patience for last year’s class to mature. No one helped themselves more than Georgia last year with terrific transfers coming in to blend with young stars like Isaiah Crowell. Mark Richt has loaded up on the offensive line over the last few seasons, and now it’s time to fortify the talent across the board. There isn’t any one glaring need.
Team Concerns: Kicker and punter. The Bulldogs are loaded with a team good enough to be in the national title discussion, but long-time punter Drew Butler and kicker Blair Walsh are gone. Enter Marshall Morgan, a kicker out of Fort Lauderdale who’ll get every shot to instantly take over the starting job. Punter Collin Barber is a good prospect who’ll be asked to push for the gig from Day One.
2. South Carolina (11-2)
What’s Needed Now: The Gamecocks need skill players to load up for the future. The last two classes have been about the superstars up top, with Jadeveon Clowney the big get last year and Marcus Lattimore the star of 2010. But there’s work to be done to get the offensive playmakers in place for 2013 and beyond. The receiving corps needs to be addressed, but there isn’t one glaring weakness.
Team Concerns: The passing game has to be better. The defense should be a killer with one of the nation’s best pass rushes, and the running game should be terrific if and when Lattimore returns, but QB Connor Shaw has to be better down the field and a top target has to emerge with Alshon Jeffery gone. There’s an opening for a newcomer to step in and shine right away.
3. Florida (7-6)
What’s Needed Now: Offensive firepower. The Gators haven’t had a superior running game in years, and the offense sputtered and coughed throughout last season. QB Jeff Driskel was the star of last year’s class and could be the franchise, but he’ll have to battle for the job and he’ll need more playmakers. However, that’s not coming with this class — it’s full of next-level defensive prospects.
Team Concerns: A go-to receiver. Quarterback will be in the spotlight, but finding a steady running back and a star receiver is a must early on. There are plenty of four- and five-star players to go around, but now they have to produce. The defense is going to be special with the 2010 recruiting class about to mature, and there’s a whole bunch of superior talent on the way to provide an instant push for playing time.
4. Missouri (8-5)
What’s Needed Now: Top-shelf players. Helping out the linebacking corps would be nice, and getting a few more defensive linemen to go with last year’s haul would be a plus. But with the move coming to the SEC, the Tigers need to get far stronger and far better across the board. Head coach Gary Pinkel has a good-looking class coming in, but he needs to land as many four- and five-star prospects as possible with so many areas already looking good for the next few years.
Team Concerns: Defensive line. The 2011 class has to pay off quicker than can be reasonably asked, especially at tackle, while end Jacques Smith has to be replaced on the outside. There might not be much from this class that can help right away, but the depth needs to be beefed up.
5. Tennessee (5-7)
What’s Needed Now: The defensive front seven. The Volunteers were fine defensively, but not great. The offense needs a boost as soon as possible, but for the long haul the defense needs to beef things up on the line. There are good prospects waiting in the wings, but reinforcements are a must with a few stud defensive tackles a plus. The secondary is fine for the next few years, but players are needed to develop for 2014.
Team Concerns: The running game needs more pop. The Vols return loaded with experience and should be full of ready-made players across the board, but RB Tauren Poole is gone from a ground attack that didn’t do much of anything. It’s an easy sell for any running back prospect; there’s a chance to play immediately ad make an impact.
6. Vanderbilt (6-7)
What’s Needed Now: Offensive linemen. The Commodores have gone after the best players possible over the last few years, and head coach James Franklin was terrific last year at beefing up the skill spots, but now he needs offensive linemen to build up for the future. The line should be fine for the next few years, but this class has to be about the building blocks for down the road.
Team Concerns: Defensive playmakers. The Commodores return enough starters to be solid next season, but they lose some key parts on the line and corner Casey Hayward and safety Sean Richardson. The potential is there for 2012 to be a terrific year with so much experience returning, so this year’s class will be about the future. This is for 2014.
7. Kentucky (5-7)
What’s Needed Now: Defensive playmakers. The last three recruiting classes have mostly focused on upgrading the offense, but that didn’t exactly pay off in a dismal 2011. It was a young crew of talented skill players that needed time, but now they have to produce. The defense has to get stronger and more productive, and this class is focusing on getting more options for an already decent-looking secondary.
Team Concerns: Offensive line. Three starters are gone from an offensive front that didn’t do nearly enough to help a pathetic attack. The skill players are in place for the next few seasons, but the line has to be reloaded. However, O line doesn’t’ appear to be the strength of this recruiting class.