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Monday, January 25, 2010
SEC East recruiting needs

By ESPN.com staff
ESPN.com

National signing day is next Wednesday, and SEC teams are still working on wrapping up their classes.

Here’s a look at each East team’s most pressing needs:

FLORIDA

Receiver: As we saw last season, the Gators weren’t overflowing with explosive playmakers down the field. And their most proven commodities in the passing game, receiver Riley Cooper and tight end Aaron Hernandez, are both gone. Adding redshirt freshman Andre Debose to the mix will help. He underwent hamstring surgery and missed last season.

Secondary: The numbers are still pretty good in the secondary, but the Gators need to start filling in the gaps now that cornerback Joe Haden and safety Major Wright have turned pro early. Safety Ahmad Black will be a senior next season.

Quarterback: John Brantley is going to be a junior next season, so don’t be surprised if the Gators try and add a quarterback in this class.

GEORGIA

Defensive line: The Bulldogs lose three senior defensive tackles -- Geno Atkins, Jeff Owens and Kade Weston -- who’ve anchored the middle of that defense for the past couple of seasons. They’re also going to need guys who fit into new defensive coordinator Todd Grantham’s 3-4 scheme.

Outside linebackers: Even though Justin Houston came on last season with 7.5 sacks, the Bulldogs are still looking for anybody who can get to the quarterback.

Offensive line: All of a sudden, Georgia’s young collection of offensive line talent has gotten older. And with the injuries the Bulldogs have had up front the last two seasons, they can’t have enough of those guys.

KENTUCKY

Defensive tackle: The Wildcats have lost two big-time tackles in each of the last two seasons, Corey Peters and Myron Pryor, and need to re-stock the middle of their defensive line.

Offensive line: Four of the five guys who started for Kentucky on the offensive line in the bowl game were seniors, so there are going to be a lot of new faces for the Wildcats up front in 2010. One of their top reserves from last season, tackle Brad Durham, will be a senior.

Receiver: Randall Cobb needs some help. As special as he is, he can’t do it alone, which means finding a big-play receiver who can not only help next season, but be the centerpiece of the receiving unit for future years, is a must for the Wildcats.

SOUTH CAROLINA

Offensive line: It’s been the root of South Carolina’s offensive struggles under Steve Spurrier. The Gamecocks simply haven’t been able to match up consistently in the offensive line, which again makes that a priority this recruiting period.

Cornerback: The Gamecocks held their breath at cornerback last season. There’s no depth behind Stephon Gilmore and Akeem Auguste, so that’s a position they’re trying hard in this class to address.

Quarterback: Hard to believe, but Stephen Garcia will be a junior next season, and there wasn’t a shakier backup plan in the league last season. The Head Ball Coach has to find another quarterback.

TENNESSEE

Quarterback: It’s difficult to pinpoint the Vols’ quarterback of the future at this point. They have a junior college transfer, Matt Simms, and high school player, Tyler Bray, already enrolled in school for this semester. Both have a chance to start next season along with returning senior Nick Stephens.

Offensive line: The “veteran” for the Vols up front next season will be sophomore Aaron Douglas, who’s a terrific looking prospect, but has only played one season on the offensive line after playing tight end in high school. Tennessee is frighteningly thin in the offensive line.

Defensive line: Not only is potential first-round tackle Dan Williams gone to the NFL, but ends Chris Walker and Ben Martin will both be seniors next season.

VANDERBILT

Receiver: The Commodores never recovered after Justin Wheeler blew out his knee in the spring and transfer Terence Jeffers-Harris failed to become eligible last season. They need legitimate threats in the passing game in the worst way if they’re going to improve on last season’s anemic offensive showing.

Secondary: The defensive backfield has been the strength of Vanderbilt’s team the past two seasons under the tutelage of Jamie Bryant, but go back and look at the caliber of players the Commodores have lost back there. They already have six defensive back prospects committed in this class.

Offensive line: Anything the Commodores can do to add some firepower to their offense, they’re going to do. And that includes upgrading the quality and depth in the offensive line. Vanderbilt is losing three senior starters up front.