Signing Day needs: SEC West
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. LSU (13-1)
What’s Needed Now: Quarterback. Zach Mettenberger was the key pickup last year after transferring from Georgia, but the Tigers need more talents in the stable for depth and more options. However, that doesn’t appear to be coming. Upgrading the defensive front seven is a bit of a must, and Les Miles is bringing in a solid group of linebackers that should shine in a few years. This is a good-looking class, but it might not be a special one.
Team Concerns: The offensive line. Three starters are gone from a group that dominated everyone but Alabama. After years of loading up on the defensive front, and with last year’s class focusing on the passing game, this year some reinforcements for the offensive side will be a must. The defensive back seven, though, will get the most attention.
2. Alabama (12-1)
What’s Needed Now: The Tide lose a slew of good defensive starters, but there are more waiting in the wings. The stockpiled depth after years of great recruiting classes is amazing, but it would be nice if a stud No. 1 receiver could come in and take over a big role early on. The Tide need a boost for the receiving corps after the start of the last few classes for the defensive side, and the stars appear to be coming.
Team Concerns: Cyrus Jones and Amari Cooper are considered two of the nation’s best receiver prospects and could be factors right away. The rich are getting richer on defense with Reggie Ragland an NFL inside linebacker spending a few years in college, and safeties Landon Collins and Eddie Williams each special.
3. Auburn (8-5)
What’s Needed Now: Not much. The Tigers and Gene Chizik came up with a whopper of a 2011 class and don’t have any glaring needs this year. Skill players were the priority in 2010 – led by a decent get named Newton – and the defensive back seven was strong last year. This was a young team that’s maturing and should be coming into its own.
Team Concerns: Consistent quarterback play is a need, but Cam Newton was a once-in-a-millennium find; it’ll be up to Clint Moseley and Kiehl Frazier to carry the load. Offensive tackle will be the biggest concern coming into spring ball with improved defensive consistency No. 2.
4. Arkansas (11-2)
What’s Needed Now: The Hogs are loaded just about everywhere, but they need to start stockpiling numbers at running back for down the road and have to keep feeding the receiving corps with more and more options. An upgrade at corner isn’t a must this year, but it will be next season, and finding a few pass rushers is a priority. Overall, no matter what the position, Arkansas needs as many great prospects as possible to keep up the arms race with the other star programs in the West.
Team Concerns: Receivers, receivers, receivers. Junior-college transfer Courtney Gardner could be an instant star, while Jalen Cobb and Keon Hatcher are studs for down the road. Bobby Petrino wanted running backs, and he’s getting them, led by Jonathan Williams out of Texas. It’ll be strength in numbers for the defensive ends with Deatrich Wise and Taiwan Johnson leading a terrific group.
5. Texas A&M (7-6)
What’s Needed Now: Skill players. The Aggies are losing a slew of stars off an offensive powerhouse, and while this year’s class isn’t likely to provide much in the way of instant help, the passing game prospects should be hot for Kevin Sumlin’s offense. The receiving corps needs talent to develop for the next few seasons, and it would be a plus if star running back prospect Trey Williams could shine immediately.
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Team Concerns: The passing game. This shouldn’t be a problem with a little bit of time, but it’s not going to be Case Keenum and fireworks right away. Ryan Tannehill is gone as is Jeff Fuller, but Ryan Swope and Uzowa Nwachukwu are talented. The biggest hit is in the secondary with three starters and the top corners gone, but the 2009 and 2011 classes were loaded with secondary prospects and this year’s class appears to be strong for the defensive backfield.
6. Mississippi State (7-6)
What’s Needed Now: Defensive linemen. You don’t have a chance in the SEC without a strong defensive front, and MSU is getting one. The Bulldogs lose two key playmakers up front, including tackle Fletcher Cox, and an upgrade is needed for 2013 and beyond. Head coach Dan Mullen is getting a slew of interesting pass rushers and a few terrific tackles to make the line a strength.
Team Concerns: Backfield production. Tyler Russell growing into the star he was supposed to be as a star 2009 recruit would be a plus. Losing RB Vick Ballard takes away a heart-and-soul type for the offense. Safety is a huge concern with Charles Mitchell and Wade Bonner gone, but the 2010 class was heavy on defensive backs and could be a major plus in time.
7. Mississippi (2-10)
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What’s Needed Now: The Rebels and new head coach Hugh Freeze have to find a passing game and an offense. It’s Ole Miss, so there’s always a national search for the tired, poor and hungry quarterbacks yearning for playing time. Junior-college transfer Bo Wallace will be in the mix right away, and after a few years of decent recruiting classes aimed at the skill positions – with last year’s class shining at receiver – the passing game has to be better.
Team Concerns: Offensive tackle. There’s enough young depth across the board to create some interesting position battles going into spring ball, but the offense needs better blocking and has to do it with Bobby Massie taking off early for the NFL and Bradley Sowell done with his eligibility. The Rebels need a left tackle.