- Ted Miller, ESPN Staff Writer
- 0 Shares
Every team needs to hit every position group each recruiting season, but there are always priorities. It's not just positions where starters are lost or going to be seniors, it's about addressing weaknesses where a true freshman might be a better answer than a returning player.
We start with the South Division.
QB: This is as big a need as any in the conference because the Wildcats, at present, don't really have a quarterback behind expected starter Matt Scott, a senior. The graduation of Nick Foles and Bryson Beirne and a couple of transfers created the void.
LB: The Wildcats have lacked depth at linebacker for two seasons and now must replace a pair of starters.
DE: Both starting defensive ends from 2011 are gone, but the Wildcats didn't get much production from either. In the new 3-3-5 scheme, defensive backs will be more prominent, and Arizona is solid there. But it's going to need to stock up on athletic rush ends/outside linebackers -- some of whom might double as safeties, too.
DB: The Sun Devils struggled with injuries and ineffectiveness in the secondary last season, and both starting safeties are gone. There are immediately opportunities here for playing time.
LB: It helps that Brandon Magee gets an extra year after injury ended his 2011 season before it began, but the Sun Devils' top four linebackers from this past season are all gone and need to be replaced.
DL: The Buffaloes welcome back only one starter on the defensive line, and included in their losses was their most productive player, defensive end Josh Hartigan.
DB: It's not only that Colorado takes a couple of hits on the depth chart, it's that the Buffs were terrible against the pass in 2011, yielding 34 touchdown passes, six more than any other Pac-12 team during the regular season.
WR: Colorado will be breaking in a new quarterback this fall, but after Paul Richardson there aren't many guys who will frighten a defense coming back. The new quarteback will need targets.
WR: While the struggles at quarterback grabbed most of the headlines, the Bruins wide receivers have hardly distinguished themselves over the past few seasons. And when you take away Nelson Rosario's 1,100 yards receiving, the need becomes even more significant.
OL: This also is a longstanding issue. While the Bruins welcome back players with experience -- including former starting offensive tackle Xavier Su'a-Filo -- the unit has struggled to be consistently productive as run and pass blockers.
DB: The Bruins really stunk against the run in 2011, ranking 11th in the conference in run defense, so the front-seven is definitely questionable. But the Bruins also yielded 27 touchdown passes, third most in the conference. There's a need to get faster and more athletic in the secondary.
DL: Three starting D-linemen need to be replaced, and the two likely starting ends -- Devon Kennard and Wes Horton -- will be seniors. There's some intriguing youth, but an area that is a typical Trojans strength needs to remain fully stocked during scholarship reductions.
OL: Four starters return from 2010, but much like the defensive line Lane Kiffin doesn't want to lack depth up front on offense, which was the case this year.
RB: It's a toss-up at the skill positions as to whether running back or wide receiver is a bigger need, but after senior Curtis McNeal, who's a bit injury prone, things are fairly uncertain at running back due to a couple of transfers.
OL: The Utes not only have to replace both tackles from 2011, all three of the returning interior starters are seniors.