NCF Nation: 2012 signing day team looks

Were Pac-12 recruiting needs met?

February, 2, 2012
Every team had needs going into 2012 national signing day. Last week, Ted Miller looked at the needs of each team in the North Division and South Division. Here’s a look at whether those needs were met.

Arizona: Either Javelle Allen or Josh Kern -- both Texans -- could be the long-term answer at quarterback. Noticeably missing is the lack of an impact linebacker. But there is some good depth to the offensive line.

Arizona State: Nice pickup with running back D.J. Foster. Richard Smith and Josiah Blandin boost the wide receiving corps. Nine JC signees? We’ll see.

Cal: QB Zach Kline (No. 2 QB) is the jewel of the class, and receiver Darius Powe could be an immediate impact player. Cal wins the award for bipolar recruiting season, but this is still a solid class.

Colorado: If Yuri Wright can keep his thumbs in check, he’s a huge addition. He and Kenny Crawley boost a secondary sorely in need of playmakers.

Oregon: Arik Armstead headlines a diverse class that, as expected, is heavy on speed and addresses depth across the board. Next to duct tape, few things are quick fixes than a juco kicker.

Oregon State: No. 1 offensive guard Isaac Seumalo and tackle Garrett Weinreich fill immediate needs on the line. A lot of unproven commits on a defense that still needs help.

Stanford: Business should be booming in the Stanford cafeteria with seven new offensive linemen. And they get to grow with and block for Barry Sanders. Noor Davis and Alex Carter are elite defensive playmakers.

UCLA: Four ESPNU 150 players, headlined by athlete Devin Fuller. Who said Jim Mora wasn't cut out for college? Keeping Ellis McCarthy in Southern California -- and out of red and gold -- is big time.

USC: Don't cry for this tiny class. It features seven ESPNU 150 players and adds speed on defense with Jabari Ruffin, size on the offensive line with Max Turek and Jordan Simmons and athleticism with wide receiver Nelson Agholor. Another great haul for Troy.

Utah: A quarterback of the future is needed, and Travis Wilson (No. 39 QB) and Chase Hansen (No. 43 QB) should have a heck of a competition in the coming years. Lots of help and depth added to the offensive line.

Washington: A shaky recruiting season was saved at the last minute by the commitment of Shaq Thompson and the ability to hold quarterback Cyler Miles. Brandon Beaver helps a secondary that was one of the worst in the conference.

Washington State: Running back Robert Lewis and receiver Alex Jackson could prove to be money in the Mike Leach offensive overhaul. A few juco transfers should be stopgaps until depth develops and Leach's plan comes together.

Breaking down the SEC signing classes

February, 2, 2012
Now that the fax machines have quit churning, who in the SEC fared the best on signing day and who best filled their needs?

Let’s take a team-by-team look:

Alabama: The Crimson Tide lost three starting linebackers and three starting defensive backs, so they needed to retool their defense. They were also looking for playmakers at the receiver position. Junior college cornerbacks Travell Dixon and Deion Belue are already enrolled in school, as are ESPNU 150 receivers Chris Black and Amari Cooper. The Crimson Tide went into LSU’s backyard and signed Landon Collins, the top-rated safety in America, and receiver Eddie Williams of Panama City, Fla., was ESPN’s No. 2-rated athlete nationally. ESPN grade: A

Arkansas: Losing three talented senior receivers, including the record-setting Jarius Wright, meant the Hogs were in the market for big-time receivers. They lost out to Missouri on Dorial Green-Beckham but landed two of the top pass-catchers in the country in D’Arthur Cowan of Olive Branch, Miss., and Keon Hatcher of Owasso, Okla. The Hogs were also able to beef up their defensive front seven with linebacker Otha Peters of Covington, La., and tackle Darius Philon of Mobile, Ala. Peters was originally committed to Tennessee and Philon to Alabama. ESPN grade: C+

Auburn: The Tigers were looking for help across the board on defense, but were last in the SEC a year ago in passing defense. So picking up ESPNU 150 cornerback Joshua Holsey of Fairburn, Ga., and cornerback T.J. Davis of Tallahassee, Fla., was a big lick for Auburn and new defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder. The same goes for ESPNU 150 athlete Ricardo Louis of Miami Beach, Fla., and top 30 receiver Ja'Quay Williams of Tyrone, Ga., both of whom should add firepower to an Auburn passing game that was anemic this past season. ESPN grade: B

Florida: The Gators needed more quality and depth along both lines of scrimmage, and coach Will Muschamp must feel like they were able to accomplish that with his first full recruiting class. D.J. Humphries of Charlotte, N.C., is the No. 1-rated offensive tackle in the country by ESPN. Jessamen Dunker of Boynton Beach, Fla., and Dante Phillips of Venice, Fla., are also ESPNU 150 offensive linemen. Matt Jones of Seffner, Fla., is a bigger running back who should help the Gators get some of the tough yards they weren’t able to get this past season. ESPN grade: A

Georgia: Looking to beef up a defense that figures to lose a bunch of players following next season, the Bulldogs stocked up on potential playmakers on that side of the ball. ESPNU 150 outside linebacker Josh Harvey-Clemons didn’t sign until late, but he’s a perfect fit in Todd Grantham’s 3-4 defense and one of those guys who can go get the quarterback. ESPNU 150 running back Keith Marshall of Raleigh, N.C., is one of the more explosive players in this class. He’s already enrolled in school and should push Isaiah Crowell immediately. ESPN grade: A-

Kentucky: The Wildcats have been pushing to make up ground on the rest of the SEC on their lines of scrimmage and stocked up on offensive and defensive linemen in this class. Defensive tackle Thomas Chapman of Louisville, Ky., should fit nicely in the middle of Rick Minter’s defense. The Wildcats were also in desperate need of playmakers on offense and hope receiver DeMarcus Sweat of Stone Mountain, Ga., and athlete/receiver Fred Tiller of Homerville, Ga., can help fill that void. ESPN grade: C+

LSU: LSU returns a ton of young talent on defense next season, but the Tigers are losing all three of their starting linebackers. They made that a priority in this class and picked up at least five players projected to play linebacker at the college level. Leading the way was ESPNU 150 outside linebacker Kwon Alexander of Oxford, Ala. He picked LSU over Auburn. Ronnie Feist of Edgard, La., was another ESPNU 150 linebacker to sign with the Tigers, while quarterback Jeremy Liggins of Oxford, Miss., was a nice late pickup. ESPN grade: B+

Mississippi State: The Bulldogs took aim at defensive linemen and signed as many as eight in this class. One of the top ones is junior college defensive end Denico Autry, who’s already in school and will go through spring practice. They also picked up two of the top defensive tackles in-state in Quay Evans of Morton, Miss., and Nick James of Long Beach, Miss. ESPN grade: C+

Missouri: With all the strong defenses in the SEC, Missouri knew it needed a few more playmakers as the Tigers jump into league play next season. They added one of the premier ones in the country on signing day in Green-Beckham, who’s rated by ESPN as the No. 1 receiver in the country and the No. 3 prospect overall. It was a huge statement for the Tigers to keep such a coveted prospect at home. ESPN grade: B-

Ole Miss: It didn’t take first-year coach Hugh Freeze long to realize how much help the Rebels needed on defense, which made the addition of safety Trae Elston of Oxford, Ala., so big. And up front on defense, the Rebels probably won’t wait long to see what ESPNU 150 tackle Issac Gross of Batesville, Miss., and ESPNU 150 end Channing Ward of Aberdeen, Miss., can do. Both are big-time talents. ESPN grade: C+

South Carolina: The Head Ball Coach still likes to throw the ball around the park some, even if the Gamecocks have become more of a running team the past couple of seasons. That said, South Carolina landed one of the more impressive receiver classes in the country, and it’s a class headlined by ESPNU 150 receiver Shaq Roland of Lexington, S.C. With Alshon Jeffery turning pro early, Roland was a must-get for the Gamecocks and could make a big impact next season. ESPN grade: B+

Tennessee: The Vols wanted to add more firepower on offense, which made getting top junior college receiver Cordarrelle Patterson on signing day a coup. He should fit in nicely next season with a healthy Justin Hunter and Da’Rick Rogers. ESPNU 150 receivers Drae Bowles of Jackson, Tenn., and Alton Howard of Orlando, Fla., are a pair of high school signees who should also help Tennessee make more plays down the field than it did a season ago. ESPN grade: B-

Texas A&M: First-year coach Kevin Sumlin scored a huge victory in-state by landing ESPNU 150 receiver Thomas Johnson of Dallas. Johnson is ranked by ESPN as the No. 3 receiver prospect in the country, and he will figure prominently in Sumlin’s offense. The same goes for undersized running back Trey Williams of Houston. He’s a blur in the open field. The Aggies also addressed a big defensive need with ESPNU 150 outside linebacker Jordan Richmond of Denton, Texas. ESPN grade: B+

Vanderbilt: It was James Franklin’s first full recruiting class, and he responded by putting together the highest-ranked class in Vanderbilt history. More importantly, the Commodores filled some huge needs on defense with four-star end Stephen Weatherly of Atlanta and four-star linebackers Darreon Herring of Stone Mountain, Ga., and Jacob Sealand of Tucker, Ga. The Commodores are losing several key seniors on defense, so it was critical that they replenished on that side of the ball. ESPN grade: B-

Notre Dame signing day wrap

February, 2, 2012
Biggest need filled: Last year it was fortifying the defensive line, something Notre Dame did with a bang in landing stud recruits Aaron Lynch and Stephon Tuitt, immediate contributors. This year it was shoring up the secondary and receiving corps.

Despite a decommitment from a big prospect in each area, Brian Kelly must feel the Irish did that by adding two receivers, a corner and four safeties. Still, the loss of Deontay Greenberry will sting more than that of Ronald Darby, given the graduation of Michael Floyd and the uncertainty at the quarterback position.

Big Ten recruiting team wraps

February, 2, 2012
National signing day is in the books, and it's time to evaluate the Big Ten teams and their classes. Although several potential Big Ten recruits are announcing their plans after signing day, most of the classes are complete.

Here's how ESPN Recruiting graded the Big Ten classes Insider.

Let's take a look at how teams filled their big recruiting needs:


The Illini have had a nice run at defensive tackle with 2011 NFL first-round draft pick Corey Liuget and Akeem Spence, who enters 2012 as a legitimate pro prospect. They solidified the interior line for the future with recruits like Teko Powell and Vontrell Williams.


It's no secret Indiana needs to make significant upgrades on defense, and coach Kevin Wilson looked to the junior college ranks for help. Indiana added six juco defenders, including cornerback Tregg Waters and linebacker Jacarri Alexander. These players give the Hoosiers a chance to get better in a hurry.


Running back has again become a pressing need for Iowa with the departures of Marcus Coker and Mika'il McCall. While Iowa has lost running backs at an alarming rate, it also has developed young backs very well in recent years. The coaches hope to work their magic with Greg Garmon, who could be the most significant recruit of the 2012 class.


Arguably no staff in the country makes defensive line a bigger priority than Michigan, which has three coaches, including head man Brady Hoke, focused on the front four. The Wolverines lose standouts Mike Martin and Ryan Van Bergen from the 2011 line, but they addressed the situation in recruiting with pickups like defensive tackle Ondre Pipkins and defensive end Chris Wormley.


Michigan State is creating a nice recruiting pipeline at the wide receiver position. The Spartans lose their top two wideouts from 2011 (B.J. Cunningham and Keshawn Martin) but added several nice receiver pickups in the 2012, including Tennessee transfer DeAnthony Arnett and four-star prospects Monty Madaris and Aaron Burbridge.


Quarterback MarQueis Gray returns, and Minnesota needed to get him some help in the passing game after the departure of Da'Jon McKnight. The Gophers added some excellent pickups at the wide receiver position in Andre McDonald and Jamel Harbison.


The Huskers were thin at linebacker in 2011 and lose standout Lavonte David to graduation. Nebraska coaches also have discussed the need to add more traditional linebackers to face Big Ten offenses. Big Red filled the need in the 2012 recruiting classes with players such as Michael Rose and Jared Afalava.


Defense has been Northwestern's downfall in the past two years, and the Wildcats need more difference-makers on that side of the ball. They likely landed one in end/linebacker Ifeadi Odenigbo, an ESPNU 150 prospect who is Northwestern's most decorated defensive recruit in recent memory. Odenigbo could help immediately as a situational pass-rusher.


No Big Ten team made a bigger impact at one position than Ohio State did along the defensive line. The Buckeyes, who were a bit thin up front in 2011, got a lot better with this class, which is headlined by ESPNU 150 prospects Noah Spence, Adolphus Washington, Se'Von Pittman and Tommy Schutt.


Skyler Mornhinweg's decommitment stings a bit, as Penn State needs more quarterbacks in the mix, but the Nittany Lions also need more difference-makers at wide receiver and tight end. They helped themselves in the 2012 class with wide receiver Eugene Lewis, ranked as the nation's No. 34 wideout by ESPN Recruiting. Tight end Jesse James is another nice pickup.


Offensive line has been a position of stability for Purdue the past few seasons, but the Boilers lose two starters from the 2011 squad (Dennis Kelly, Nick Mondek) and will say goodbye to several more after 2012. Purdue had to reload up front, and the two highest-rated players in the 2012 class, according to ESPN Recruiting -- Jordan Roos and Cameron Cermin -- all play offensive line.


Quarterback is undoubtedly Wisconsin's top priority as Russell Wilson departs and Jon Budmayr and Curt Phillips battle back from major injuries. The Badgers needed a signal-caller in a small class and landed a decorated one in Bart Houston, a four-star prospect from California powerhouse De La Salle High School.
We looked at the biggest needs for each team in the Big 12 last week. Now it's time to see who filled them.


Baylor needed a quarterback and defensive tackle, and delivered in both positions. Javonte Magee is on the way as the nation's No. 20 tackle, and the Bears grabbed former Kansas commit Seth Russell, the nation's No. 47 quarterback, from outside Dallas. The Bears also added the No. 78 defensive tackle, Zorrell Ezell, and Joey Sercy from junior college.


The Cyclones needed receivers and got them. Two of the team's top four signees are receivers, P.J. Harris and Quan West. The duo was just outside the top 100 nationally at the position and came from Florida and Texas, respectively.


The raw rankings won't tell you the strength of Kansas' recruiting class. Quarterback has been a huge weakness the past two years, and passers Dayne Crist and Jake Heaps arrive as transfers from Notre Dame and BYU, respectively. It also fulfilled a need by adding Tyler Holmes, the nation's No. 105 tackle.


The biggest need filled for K-State is simple: defensive line. Two of the team's top signees (Travis Britz, Demonte Hood) are along the line, and the team added two more signees (Chaquil Reed, Wesley Hollingshed) from the juco ranks.


The Sooners clearly filled their biggest need. The team's top three recruits (Trey Metoyer, Sterling Shepard, Durron Neal) are all receivers, which is huge for a team that found out it wasn't very strong at the position after Ryan Broyles' injury. It also added the nation's No. 19 receiver, Derrick Woods, to the class.


The Cowboys added a whole lot of volume at receiver. Time will tell how much noise it makes. OSU added six receivers in this class, but none ranked in the top 85 at their position. The team's top recruit, Dominic Ramacher, is the nation' No. 3 tight end and will surely be able to catch a few passes.


The Longhorns lost two starters at linebacker, and filled the void extremely well. The nation's No. 1 inside linebacker, Dalton Santos, is coming. As is Peter Jinkens, the nation's No. 5 outside linebacker, and the No. 12 outside linebacker, Torshiro Davis. It also added Tim Cole, the No. 27 outside linebacker and Alex De La Torre, the No. 11 inside linebacker.


The Horned Frogs' top two commits in their top-25 class are both on the defensive line, filling a big need. That includes Devonte Fields, an ESPNU 150 signee and the No. 11 defensive end. Joey Hunt is the nation's No. 18 defensive tackle. Both hail from Texas. The Horned Frogs also added James McFarland and Terell Lathan, two defensive ends in the top 85 at the position.


The Red Raiders got big-time reinforcements at receiver, adding two of the nation's top 15 at the position. Dominique Wheeler and Reginald Davis are two of Tech's three ESPNU 150 signees in the top-20 class.

2012 recruiting team wrap-ups

February, 2, 2012
While the star systems help evaluate each recruit and grade each class Insider, the most important aspect of signing day is whether or not each program filled its specific needs at each position. Here’s a quick look at each school in the ACC and the biggest need it filled on signing day:

BOSTON COLLEGE: The Eagles wanted to continue to build the depth on both lines, and did that with three offensive linemen and a defensive end. BC might have gotten a future star in four-star guard Frank Taylor, who is rated No. 14 in the country at his position.

CLEMSON: One look at the 2011 depth chart and it’s easy to see where Clemson’s biggest need was, as three starters on the offensive line and three starters on the defensive line have to be replaced from the ACC title team. Mission accomplished in this class with 10 linemen, including six on offense.

DUKE: The Blue Devils got what they were looking for in offensive skill positions with a quarterback, two running backs and three wide receivers in the 20-player class. Jela Duncan, rated the No. 39 running back in the country by, could give Duke’s running game a much-needed boost.

FLORIDA STATE: An already deep defensive line got even deeper and faster. The Noles lured in five defensive linemen, including the No. 1 defensive end and the No. 1 defensive tackle in the country in Mario Edwards and Eddie Goldman, respectively.

GEORGIA TECH: The defensive line was the most pressing need for the Jackets, as they have to replace two senior starters up front. The staff got it done with five defensive linemen in this class, including three tackles.

MARYLAND: Randy Edsall and his staff put a heavy emphasis on linebackers in this class, with three outside linebackers and three inside linebackers. Abner Logan Jr., who is rated No. 28 in the country at his position, highlights the group.

MIAMI: Defensive backs were a big priority, and Miami took care of it with five cornerbacks and two safeties. The prize of the class was Tracy Howard, rated the No. 1 cornerback in the country by RecruitingNation.

NORTH CAROLINA: The Tar Heels' depth at linebacker needed some help, especially with having to replace outgoing senior Zach Brown. First-year coach Larry Fedora added some talent with four linebackers in this class, including four-star commit Shakeel Rashad.

NC STATE: Tom O’Brien bolstered his defensive line in this class with six newcomers, and he said he now has a “whole different breed” of pass-rushers. The Pack lured in defensive end Kenderius Whitehead, the No. 31 end in the country.

VIRGINIA: Offensive line was a concern, as the Hoos will have to replace their starting center and left guard in 2012. Mike London brought in three guards and two tackles to help build the depth up front.

VIRGINIA TECH: It’s no secret the Hokies needed to load up on running backs after back-to-back seasons in which three stars decided to leave early and one backup graduated. Virginia Tech got it done in this class with four running backs, including Drew Harris, ranked No. 19 at his position by RecruitingNation.

WAKE FOREST: The Deacs have to replace four starters on the offensive line, and while it’s unlikely a true freshman will earn a starting job, it’s certainly a place on the depth chart where an outstanding rookie has a chance to make an impact. Wake brought in two tackles and a guard to help their cause.

Big East recruiting team wraps

February, 2, 2012
Now it is time to take a look at the biggest recruiting needs met for each Big East team.

For a look at how ESPN Recruiting Nation rated each class, check out the grades Insider.

Cincinnati: Secondary has been an area of concern for the Bearcats, and they shored up this position in a big way -- signing eight defensive backs. This should not only help for this year but provide for the future, since Cincinnati has four seniors at the position for 2012.

Connecticut: Two quarterbacks signed, and that is welcome news for a team that had a hard time at the position this past season. Chandler Whitmer from junior college at least has playing experience, but true freshman Casey Cochran has more of the hype.

Louisville: Linebacker was one of the big areas targeted, and the Cardinals hit on it in a big way with three four-star players in Keith Brown, James Burgess and Nick Dawson.

Pitt: Defensive back has been an area not only in need of an upgrade, but also in need of depth. The Panthers signed five of them, including a big signing day pick-up of Bam Bradley.

Rutgers: Offensive line has been a major point of emphasis over the last several recruiting classes as the program works to rebuild talent and depth. That was evident once again in 2012 with perhaps its strongest class yet with six linemen signed, including two four-star tackles.

USF: The weakest part of the defense last season was in the secondary, and now several key starters are gone and a handful of players will be seniors this year. So it makes sense the Bulls signed five, including four-star cornerback Chris Bivins.

Syracuse: Depth on the defensive line is a major concern, especially with Chandler Jones declaring early for the NFL draft. Syracuse addressed this need, signing five, including two from junior college who could help immediately.

West Virginia: The Mountaineers addressed needs on the offensive and defensive lines -- signing a total of eight linemen. Now it will be interesting to see how the defensive linemen will be used in the new defensive configuration.