Discussion

Class of 2008 SEC team recruiting needs

Originally Published: August 27, 2007
By Steve Muench | Scouts Inc.
Alabama
Wide receiver
Getting Mobile, Ala.'s Brandon Gibson, who also considered Auburn and South Carolina, is a step in the right direction for a rebuilding Tide program. However, more work needs to be done here because DJ Hall, Keith Brown and Matt Cadell are all seniors and Will Oakley and Nikita Stover are both juniors. It's also worth noting that while new offensive coordinator Major Applewhite isn't implementing the same spread offense he ran at Rice last year, he is expected to sprinkle in multiple-receiver sets.
Tight End
Travis McCall, Nick Walker and Charles Hoke are all capable in-line blockers, but they offer little as receivers and that needs to change for Applegate's offense to be truly balanced. Though true freshman Chris Underwood out of Birmingham, Ala., has the potential to develop into a productive receiver, he isn't big enough to play an every-down role. Getting an upper-tier tight end next year should be a priority consequently.
Outside Linebacker
The Tide admittedly mixed in three-man fronts with its base four-man front last year, so the transition to a base 3-4 front won't be as difficult as it would be for a lot of other teams. However, the linebacker corps is loaded with seniors. Alabama has done a good job of addressing the middle by signing two inside linebackers this year, but it has yet to address the outside. It's important to realize the outside linebackers frequently rush the passer, because the Tide could fill this need by signing a defensive end.

Arkansas
Safety
Starters Matt Hewitt and Michael Grant as well as backup Kevin Woods are all seniors. It's also unclear whether or not sophomore Matt Harris will ever develop into a starter, and reserve Walner Leandre is a junior. With all of that in mind, Arkansas should look to add at least two safeties, including one capable of pushing for playing time during his freshman season.
Offensive Tackle
Tackle is a concern heading into this season, and that's not likely to change much this year. First off, Jose Valdez, who is expected to start on the left side, hasn't exactly been overwhelming thus far, and he's a junior, so he doesn't have much time left to realize his potential. Secondly, Nate Garner, who is expected to start on the right side, hasn't distinguished himself either and he's a senior. Finally, while there may be some depth, the reserves' inability to crack the starting lineup is reason for concern.
Running Back
Alright, stop laughing. Yes, Darren McFadden and Felix Jones are both juniors. Yes, Michael Smith is a highlight waiting to happen. And yes, Arkansas had signed Juwan Franklin out of Dunnellon, Texas, and he has the top-end speed to continue what appears to becoming a storied tradition on Arkansas. However, McFadden could be the top pick overall in the 2008 draft and Jones is a fringe first-round pick, so it's not unthinkable both leave school early. It wouldn't be a shock if Smith returned for one more year before following suit either, and Franklin failed to qualify academically, so his future is still very much in the air. The Razorbacks run the ball far more than they pass it, so they need talent and depth in the backfield, so adding another back makes sense.

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