Big-school checklists start Monday, Feb. 4
As National Signing Day approaches Wednesday, Feb. 6, we take a closer look at individual team needs and a quick overview of who is likely headed to the respective program. Today we look at Conference USA, the MAC, Sun Belt and select Independents.
Next week, we will feature the ACC, Big East, Big 12, Big Ten, SEC, Pac-12, Mountain West and Notre Dame.
East Carolina -- Needs: DB, OL, DL: East Carolina, which loses four starters on defense, holds a verbal commitment from four-star JUCO defensive end Dontrill Hyman. Of the Pirates' 22 commitments, five of them come in the offensive line, with three-star tackle Brandon Smith leading the haul.
|Offensive lineman Brandon Smith is likely headed to East Carolina. (Provided by 247Sports)|
FAU -- Needs: DT, DB, WR: After struggling to a 3-9 record, the Owls have several positions of need they are looking to address through recruiting, including the defensive line. FAU has two JUCO early enrollees at the position with three-star defensive tackle Lance Burlingame and two-star defensive tackle Derek Butcher.
FIU -- Needs: OL, DB, DL: One of the reasons for FIU's struggles to a 3-9 season was its 96th-ranked pass defense (262.1). To amend that, the Golden Panthers have already secured commitments from three three-star defensive backs: cornerbacks Vontarius West, Xavier Hines and safety Willie Smith.
Marshall -- Needs: WR, DB, DL: The Thundering Herd lose two starting wide receivers, but look to the JUCO ranks to help mitigate those departures. Talented four-star receiver Angelo Jean-Louis is the prize of Marshall's class. The former Miami Hurricanes commitment enrolled at Fork Union Military Academy for one semester and is largely considered the top prep school prospect in the country. WR Deontay McManus has also given Marshall a verbal over West Virginia.
Middle Tennessee State -- Needs: RB, DB, DL: Of Middle Tennessee State's 13 commitments thus far, 11 of them are offensive players, headlined by three-star running back Kamani Thomas and three-star tight end Lucas Hamilton. Despite the offensive focus, however, the Blue Raiders will have to finish the recruiting class strong defensively, as Middle Tennessee State has needs along the secondary as well, after the program finished 90th in passing defense (252.6).
Southern Mississippi -- Needs: LB, OL, WR: Because the Golden Eagles lose four starters from 2012 on their offensive line, replenishing the position is a necessity going forward. Of the 19 verbal commitments for Southern Miss, five of them come at the position. The highest-rated linemen who have committed to the Golden Eagles are three-star offensive tackles Aaron Reed and Fred Moore.
UAB -- Needs: OL, WR, LB: With two of its starting linebackers leaving the program, UAB has four of its 20 verbal commitments thus far at the position. Three-stars Fredrick Rich and Brandon Fuller are the highest rated of the bunch, and the Blazers also hold four wide receiver commitments thus far.
Louisiana Tech -- Needs: OL, DB, WR: With four starters departing on both the offensive line and the secondary, Louisiana Tech has significant holes it needs to fill through recruiting. So far, however, the Bulldogs only have two commitments at each position. The top-rated commitment for Louisiana Tech, three-star wide receiver Eddie Johnson, does come at a position of need.
North Texas -- Needs: QB, OL, WR: After ranking 103rd in the country in scoring offense (20.9), the Mean Green need to address their skill-position offensive threats. Thus far, however, North Texas has looked to shore up its offensive line, currently holding five commitments at the position. However, all five are guards, headlined by three-star Cody Nelson.
Rice -- Needs: DL, TE, WR: Rice is a fairly young team, but could begin to address its defensive line depth with this recruiting class. The Owls only lose one starter from 2012 on the defensive front but their other two starters have only one year of eligibility remaining. So far, Rice only has one verbal commitment along the defensive line: two-star defensive end Graysen Schantz.
Tulane -- Needs: QB, DB, OL: With the departure of starting quarterback Ryan Griffin, Tulane is addressing its needs at the position through recruiting this year. The Green Wave have three three-star commitments at the position: Tanner Lee, Reggie Bell and Nick Montana, the son of former NFL great Joe Montana.
Tulsa -- Needs: DL, OL, DB: The defending Conference USA champions have some significant holes to fill after losing 12 starters from 2012. All four defensive line starters are gone, as well as three offensive line starters and three defensive back starters. The top-rated player in the class, three-star Dalton Rodriguez, plays both ways at offensive tackle and defensive end.
UTEP -- Needs: DL, OL, DB: After struggling to a 3-9 record, the Miners ranked 100th in scoring offense (21.2) and 76th in scoring defense (29.8). Of the 14 current verbal commitments, three-star cornerback Jaylon Scott is the highest-ranked.
Texas-San Antonio -- Needs: LB, OL, DL: The Roadrunners lose only three starters from 2012 and are building a competitive program under coach Larry Coker after going 8-4 last season. With linebacker Brandon Reeves departing the program, linebacker is a chief concern. The top-rated commitment for the Roadrunners, however, is three-star cornerback Aneas Henricks.
Akron -- Needs: OL, QB, LB: The Zips lose two starters on the right side of their offensive line: guard Mitch Straight and tackle Adam Brice. Akron holds commitments from offensive linemen Cedric Brittnum and Ryan Kortokrax, but three-star dual-threat quarterback Tommy Woodson may be the jewel of the class.
Bowling Green -- Needs: QB, WR, OL: The Falcons are a fairly young team, with only three seniors listed as starters on last year's depth chart. Still, Bowling Green could receive some help in the passing game after ranking 82nd (212.1) in the country in passing yards last season. Bowling Green has secured verbal commitments from three-star wide receivers Mike Rogers and Teo Redding to help improve its aerial attack.
|Three-star linebacker Terrance Waugh appears to be headed to Buffalo. (Provided by 247Sports)|
Buffalo -- Needs: LB, DL, OL: Buffalo has largely struggled, going 9-27 in the past three seasons, all on the watch of coach Jeff Quinn. While the Bulls struggled on offense because of inexperience in 2012, ranking 99th (21.3) in points per game, the program has most of its departures on defense. Three-star linebacker Terrance Waugh is the top verbal commitment for the Bulls.
Kent State -- Needs: DB, LB, QB: The return of do-it-all offensive threat Dri Archer for his senior season was big news for Kent State, but following a loss to Northern Illinois in the MAC Championship Game, the Golden Flashes still have some holes to fill. Because of the departure of both starting cornerbacks, Kent State sought help in the secondary and its top verbal commitment is from three-star corner Demetrius Monday.
Miami (Ohio) -- Needs: QB, DL, WR: The biggest loss for the Red Hawks is that of quarterback Zac Dysert, who threw for 3,483 yards and 25 touchdowns in 2012. Miami has secured a commitment from three-star quarterback Bryan Schor, who will compete for playing time next season.
Ohio -- Needs: DL, LB, OL: The biggest recruiting victories for the Bobcats were how the coaches convinced quarterback Tyler Tettleton and running back Beau Blankenship to return for fifth-year senior seasons. The greatest need Ohio faces is along the defensive front seven with five starters departing. However, the top four Ohio commitments are offensive players, most notably three-star running back Chris Carson and three-star wide receiver Cedric Brown..
UMass -- Needs: WR, RB, LB: The Minutemen lose all three starting wide receivers from 2012, but Massachusetts only holds two verbal commitments at the position --two-star Donnice Woods and unranked Shaquille Harris. With the loss of its starting running back, however, Massachusetts' top commitment comes from three-star all-purpose back Brandon Peoples.
Ball State -- Needs: CB, LB, OL: Ball State's defense ranked 92nd overall in scoring defense, and the secondary was a big part of the problem. The Cardinals are losing three cornerbacks after 2012 but have three defensive backs committed, most notably two-star corners David Moore and Ralph Smith.
Central Michigan -- Needs: DL, OL, QB: With the loss of its two starting defensive ends on a unit that had its struggles to begin with, Central Michigan has some holes to fill on its defense. The highest-rated commitments for the Chippewas, however, come of the offensive side of the ball. Of the 20 pledges in the class, the top nine are offensive players, with three-star wide receivers Mark Chapman and Corey Willis leading the pack.
Eastern Michigan -- Needs: DL, OL, QB: The Eagles ranked dead-last in rushing defense in the country in 2012 after ceding 267 yards per game. Only one of Eastern Michigan's 11 commitments, however, is a defensive lineman, two-star defensive end Deshai Powell. Eastern Michigan's top-ranked verbal commitment is three-star quarterback Brogan Roback.
Northern Illinois -- Needs: WR, DL, TE: After a dream season, in which Northern Illinois made a trip to the BCS Orange Bowl and quarterback Jordan Lynch was mentioned as a Heisman Trophy candidate, the Huskies will need to replenish their offensive targets. Three-star wide receiver commitments Mycial Allen and Blake Holder can compete for playing time right away.
Toledo -- Needs: DL, LB, DB: While the Rockets are relatively young on offense, Toledo's defense will lose eight starters from 2012. The Rockets hold a verbal commitment from four-star JUCO outside linebacker Delando Johnson, who can step in immediately. One of Johnson's teammates at Calvert Hall College (Towson, Md.), three-star safety Kennedy Frazier has also offered a verbal commitment to Toledo.
Western Michigan -- Needs: OL, RB, DB: Because the Broncos ranked 74th overall in rushing offense (149.5) in 2012, Western Michigan is looking to bolster its rushing attack through recruiting. The top two Bronco verbal commitments, three-star offensive tackle Kendall Moore and three-star running back Daryl Chestnut, could step in and help improve Western Michigan's running game immediately.
Arkansas State -- Needs: LB, DL, WR: With the departure of three linebackers, the Red Wolves will be looking to rebuild. They already have a commitment from Garrett Kaufman but should be looking for more. Wide receiver will also be a big concern, but two three-star WRs in Dijon Paschal and Carl Lee appear to be headed to Arkansas State.
|LB Georgia Williams has verbally committed to Louisiana-Lafayette. (Provided by 247Sports)|
Georgia State -- Needs: RB, CB, LB, QB, TE: The team didn't have many seniors, but as the Panthers make the full transition to the Sun Belt, they will need some big-time players. They have just five RBs on the roster going into next season, so an RB is crucial. The Panthers just received a verbal commitment from Tyshaun Clemmons, who picked Georgia State over Georgia Tech, East Carolina, Arkansas State, Middle Tennessee. Clay Chastain might be the prize recruit, ranking as the No. 43 best JUCO player in the nation.
Louisiana-Lafayette -- Needs: DB, LB, K: After losing three starters in the secondary, this will be an area of need come Signing Day, and Louisiana-Lafayette looks to be ahead of the game. Xavier Woods and Cedrick Tillman are headed to Lafayette. ILB George Williams would also be a great get. One of the best kickers/punters in the conference in Brett Baer is gone, but Stephen Brauchle is already enrolled in school.
Louisiana-Monroe -- Needs: TE, RB, LB: The Warhawks have just three TEs and RBs on the roster, so this will be an area to address. They already have Tevin Horton with a strong verbal. He committed to Louisiana-Monroe over Arizona, Arkansas, Mississippi State and Oklahoma State. Three senior linebackers are gone, so look for the Warhawks to snag a couple on Signing Day.
South Alabama -- Needs: OL, S, WR: South Alabama started only five seniors last season, two on the offensive line. Look for OL to be an area to address on Signing Day. They did already get a verbal from three-star OL Noah Armstrong. The team is also a little thin in the safety department but already has two JUCOs signed with twin brothers Steffon Fuller and Steven Fuller.
Texas State -- Needs: LB, DB, WR/TE: The Bobcats lost their starting TE, and with both WRs being seniors this season, it's time to start thinking about the future. The Bobcats have JUCO TE Kris Petersen already enrolled and verbal commitments from Brice Gunter. Leading tackler LB Joplo Bartu is gone, so look for Texas State to try to find another LB on Wednesday.
Troy -- Needs: RB, WR, OL, LB: The Trojans had tons of senior starters last season and will lose 25 players, so there are lots of spots to replace. Running back will be a huge need, and Troy looks to be in good shape with Tim Longmire likely headed to Troy. All-purpose back Julius McCall is also expected to sign. Troy will need to find some linebackers to join the recruiting class as well as some offensive linemen.
Western Kentucky -- Needs: DL, OL, QB: All four starters are gone from the defensive line, so this will be the top priority for Bobby Petrino. The Hilltoppers already have strong verbals from Tanner Reeves, Ismael Aurismond and LaBront Scott. With the departure of Kawuan Jakes, look for Western Kentucky to snag a quarterback of the future, too.
BYU -- Needs: DL, QB, LB: BYU boasted the nation's third-best scoring defense (14.0) in the country in 2012 but needs to fill holes along the front seven to perform at the same level next season. The Cougars have commitments from three-star defensive linemen Addison Pulsipher and Ma'ataua Brown to help mitigate the sting of departures along the front, including that of defensive end Ezekiel Ansah.
Idaho -- Needs: WR, LB, RB: With five senior wide receivers gone from last year, Idaho must get some guys to shore up the passing game. Craig Scott and Reuben Mwehla appear committed to Idaho. Two-star JUCO LB Juan Martinez and Tony Lashley will help on the defensive side.
Old Dominion -- Needs: DL, OL, S: Defensive line is the biggest need, and Old Dominion looks in good shape to solve the issue. Rashaad Coward and Cullen Casey have given the school hard commitments. Eric Hampson is also on the radar for Old Dominion to help shore up the offensive line.
New Mexico State -- Needs: DL, DB, WR: With two starters gone from the defensive line, look for the Aggies to make this a priority. It already has JUCO DE Frazer Taua coming in. WR Prentavious Morehead has given New Mexico State a strong verbal and will be the head of the class if he signs. He was being recruited by Baylor, Michigan, Oklahoma and Texas.
Sun Belt capsules written by J. Darin Darst. Follow Lorenzo Reyes on Twitter at @LReyesCBS