Every BCS Team's Most Important Recruit
The recruiting season is coming to a close, and in just over a month, the majority of the 2013 recruiting class's players will put ink to paper. This will solidify the verbal commitments, and the real evaluation of 2013 theoretical talent can begin.
In the meantime, we will take a look at the recruiting class, and pick one recruit for each BCS school that is the most important to the future success of the program. Some will fill an immediate need, and others will be coming in at just the right time to carry on a glorious tradition of success at their respective position.
From Wyoming to Alabama, here are all 71 BCS teams and their most important recruits of the 2013 class.
Corey Clement is a running back out of Glassboro, New Jersey, and he is a much-needed boost to Wisconsin's offensive scheme. Well, he's not so much a boost as he is a plug for the hole that Montee Ball will leave in the offense when he leaves after this season.
There is a lot of competition for Clement, but Wisconsin needs to make sure it doesn't let him go. He can potentially fill the hole as a freshman. The Badgers certainly don't need him running for the enemy.
West Virginia Mountaineers
West Virginia got off to a great start this season, but faltered whenever it needed its defense to win a game. In some instances, its offense failed against better defenses, but those were more rare than when the defense cost them a game.
So there are two major reasons that West Virginia needs defensive recruits: to win games when called upon and to give the offense a better defense to practice again.
To that end, Darrien Howard, the No. 9 inside linebacker of the 2013 class, will be the most important recruit to the Mountaineers. Yes, all the other defenders will be almost as important, but Howard will instantly improve the West Virginia defense. He will also provide healthy competition with the other six linebackers (both outside and inside) on the class list.
He is the type of guy that could easily become the defensive quarterback of a defense that severely needs one.
Washington State Cougars
The Cougars' best running back, Carl Winston, posted an unimpressive 280 yards rushing this season. The Cougars are in dire need of a rushing threat to command the ground respect that frees up the passing game.
That's where running back Robert Lewis comes in. He is a 4-star talent that is just a few pounds shy of being a major factor on the field. He comes in at 160 lbs., but can push that to 180 fairly quickly. If he can maintain his speed when he approaches the 200-pound mark, the offense can be built around him quite well.
If Washington State can't get him signed, the Cougars can expect a year similar to this one. Nobody wants that.
Keith Price is on his way out at Washington, though he still has a year left with the Huskies. While there are plenty of recruits that can make a difference for the Huskies, the most important is dual-threat quarterback Troy Williams.
He is the second-ranked quarterback of the 2013 class, and he could be the reason that we see the Huskies in a mid-major bowl in the near future. He has the raw talent to make advances for the Huskies in his first season, but Washington fans won't mind if they have to wait another year for him to take command of the team.
After all, Keith Price did lead the Huskies to the postseason.
Wake Forest Demon Deacons
Wake Forest fell to the Florida State Seminoles by a 52-0 score that made it look like FSU was playing against an FCS team...a bad FCS team.
The Demon Deacons are clearly falling short on the defensive side of the ball, and they need more than just one 4-star recruit to make up the difference. Of course, they need to start somewhere in order to gain a little recruiting momentum.
Lance Virgile is the lone 4-star on the Deacons commit list, and he is tabbed as an outside linebacker. That should help the currently nonexistent pass rush a lot. Don't be surprised if you see him on the field in 2013.
Virginia Tech Hokies
Virginia Tech made it to the Russell Athletic Bowl this season following a 6-6 performance in the ACC. While that may seem like a good season, it's far below the ACC title game appearance that Virginia Tech was supposed to have contended for.
While the offense certainly stagnated at times during the season, there were some games in which Virginia Tech's defense couldn't have bought it a win. Regardless of how good or bad your offense is, if you can't stop the other team from scoring, you're toast.
Kendall Fuller, the No. 4 cornerback in the country, will bring some serious value to the table when he arrives. Virginia Tech will have someone who can keep up with teams like Florida State and Clemson. While ha won't be able to do it alone, he's certainly the biggest fish of this year's recruiting class.
The Virginia Cavaliers need some serious help on offense, and it's coming in 2013 if they can keep their hold on running back Taquan Mizzell. Virginia only won four games this season, and Kevin Parks was the Cavaliers' leading rusher with 734 yards on 160 carries.
Mizzell is the nation's No. 10 running back, and he is going to be a valuable part of the offense as soon as he gets to Virginia. If he can supplement Parks at the level he's supposed to, the quarterbacks will have a lot less pressure on them when they are making their reads.
If the quarterbacks don't respond well to the relieved pressure, Corwin Cutler will quickly take over Mizzell's role as the most important recruit of the 2013 class.
Vanderbilt is still a rising program in the SEC, and it will continue to rise for years before it begins contending for the SEC title. It has to rise to the level of South Carolina, Georgia and Florida before it can start taking on the SEC West contenders.
That starts with defense this recruiting season. Vanderbilt has an offense, but the defense is still a constraint on the program's ability to win divisional titles. Defensive tackle Jay Woods has offers from many schools across the nation, and he brings a load of raw talent to the table out of high school.
Woods will be a valuable asset for Vanderbilt, especially against the massive offensive lines of the SEC powerhouses.
Utah finished the season with four receivers that each had over 300 yards, but the leading receiver still only had 365 yards. That's an average of just over 30 yards per game, which is not exactly a headline-worthy performance.
Utah is bringing in some JUCO transfers that will certainly help the team immediately, but the most important recruit is definitely X'avier Shepherd. He is a 3-star wide receiver from Cali that will most certainly be a heavy contributor to the offense for at least three years.
Full Su'a Cravens Scouting Report
USC boasts the current No. 2 recruiting class according to ESPN, and there are a ton of recruits already committed to the Trojans that other schools would love to have on either side of the ball. USC finished the season a disappointing 7-5, and lacked the defense to push for a record worthy of playing for a national championship.
The Trojans currently have the No. 1 safety, Su'a Cravens, committed to the program, and that would bolster the Trojans' poor defense against the pass. Cravens will likely come to the program and see immediate playing time. The best way to learn is hands-on, and the rest of the conference will certainly be happy to oblige him with plenty or trials.
Johnathan Franklin was a huge part of the UCLA offense and a major reason that the Bruins appeared in the Pac-12 title game. Franklin is a senior, so he will not return to college football for the 2013 season.
While there are plenty of recruits that are more highly ranked than running back Craig Lee, there are none that are more important to the program's future success than Lee. Lee will take Franklin's spot as soon as he earns it, and that will likely be in the fall of 2013.
Texas Tech Red Raiders
Texas Tech's committed cornerback, Maurice Chandler, is the No. 6 recruit in the state of Oklahoma. Texas Tech's defense was all over the map this season, and the Red Raiders definitely proved that they need some help on defense.
Maurice Chandler will do that and more. He will be helpful in the return game, and he might even see some occasional plays on offense while he's waiting to earn the starting gig as a corner. Texas Tech has plenty of holes this kid could fill, but defense is certainly the place he is needed the most.
TCU Horned Frogs
TCU has a slew of guys who can carry the ball in the trenches, but only one that rushed for over 500 yards and none who rushed for over 600. Running back Kyle Hicks will bring an explosiveness to the rushing attack that could fuel a TCU rise to the top of the Big 12 in its second or third year. (Without the quarterback situation that occurred this season, TCU may have finished as high as third in the conference.)
Hicks will be a welcome addition to the offense that finished with a 7-5 record in its first season in a major BCS conference. The rest of the Big 12 had better take TCU seriously, as TCU could easily become the next Kansas State. Recruits like Hicks are helping close the gap quickly.
Texas A&M Aggies
Full Ricky Seals-Jones Scouting Report
Texas A&M currently has a commitment from the nation's No. 1 athlete, Ricky Seals-Jones. The Aggies are losing some major players off the defensive side of the ball this year, and they will need to counteract the losses quickly in order to remain competitive in the SEC.
Everyone expects rebuilding years to be tough, but Texas A&M got the holeshot over Missouri in terms of which team was going to finish better in the new conference. (Texas A&M got off to a better start than most teams in the SEC, for that matter.)
Seals-Jones can expect to be groomed for defense if he comes to the SEC, but that's just a general rule, not law. He will be used where he is needed most. At Texas A&M, he will likely be put on a defense that is losing more talent this offseason than most college football teams even have on their rosters.
A&M needs to do whatever it can to ensure that commitment sticks.
Texas has had its share of disappointing seasons, and the 2012 season was one of them. There were quarterback issues and all sorts of other issues that stood between the Longhorns and a Big 12 title.
What Texas needs is an anchor on offense and a defense that plays with consistency. Only one of those situations is fixable by a single recruit: the offensive anchor. Texas has secured a commitment from the best center in the nation, Darius James.
If James can anchor this offensive line from 2013 until he graduates, the line could develop into one of the best in the nation. If James can provide the adhesive leadership that the Longhorns need on the o-line, Texas is in for a good run behind Johnathan Gray and whatever quarterback ends up with the starting job.
Tyler Bray has had a great run with the Tennessee Volunteers, and it is not his fault that the Vols did not make it anywhere of import during his tenure at the school. There are a ton of issues on the defensive side of the ball that lost most of the games for the guys in orange.
Talent on defense has not been an issue, though, and Bray's declaring for the draft certainly puts Tennessee in need of quarterback recruits more than defensive players. Riley Ferguson will step in as the Volunteers' up-and-coming reserve quarterback in 2013, presumably behind current backup Justin Worley.
Ferguson is a 4-star recruit and the No. 15 quarterback in the class of '13. He will bring competition to the table, and Tennessee should take some major steps forward in the next couple of seasons.
Temple has the nation's No. 29 tight end committed to the program, and he should bring that extra boost of life to the Owls' offense that is currently missing. A.J. Sattinger is a 3-star recruit out of Clearwater, Florida that weighs in at a solid 225 pounds.
His contributions as a blocker and a receiver should net him some freshman playing time at Temple, and he is the type of guy that the Owls can build an offense around. He may not bear the highest statistical evaluation score on the commit list, but he is the most important recruit for a team that ranked 120th in the nation in passing offense for the 2012 season.
Ryan Nassib will be leaving the program at the end of the year, and the nation's 21st-ranked passing attack will suffer. There is no way around that. When a starting quarterback leaves, there is a little drop-off for at least the first few games of the following season. Even Texas A&M saw a little hitch-and-go pattern to the overall 2012 season's performance under Johnny Manziel.
The good news for Syracuse fans is that there is an excellent running back on the recruiting list who will distract opposing defenses from the new quarterback. His name is Augustus Edwards, and he is the nation's No. 59 running back of the 2013 class.
He will force the opponents to respect the run, and the quarterback will have a few more tenths of a second to read the field. If you've ever watched a football game, you know how important that short amount of time is.
Stanford not only competed in the Pac-12 in the season after Andrew Luck left, the Cardinal won the conference and are headed to the Rose Bowl on Jan. 1.
Stanford's defense was clearly the biggest factor in that trip, and the Cardinal are one great quarterback short of a potential national championship. Luckily for Stanford, there is a kid by the name of Ryan Burns on the commit list for 2013.
He is the No. 3 quarterback in the country, and he can certainly lead the Cardinal through the gauntlet of UCLA, USC, Oregon, Washington, Notre Dame and Oregon State over the next few years. Burns is a gunslinger from Virginia, and he is the current headliner of the class at Stanford.
South Carolina Gamecocks
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South Carolina has a great quarterback committed to the program, and he will need time to develop. In the meantime, South Carolina will need to continue to improve on defense in order to continue to run through the SEC East with little opposition.
That's where Kelsey Griffin steps in. He is the nation's No. 13 defensive tackle, and he will be shooting to line up on defense with Jadeveon Clowney. The two will probably engage in friendly games of "Who can get the most sacks?"
Griffin will be a valuable asset to the defensive front in Columbia, and he will be a contributing factor as soon as possible.
Rutgers Scarlet Knights
Chris Laviano is the No. 13 quarterback in the class of 2013, and he's currently committed to Rutgers. If Rutgers can get a quarterback like him to come boost the offense alongside running back Jawan Jamison, then the Scarlet Knights are looking at winning some serious games over the next few seasons.
That would be a good thing, because moving out of the Big East is a good move for the Knights. It's a great move if they can leverage that move into more recruits in the Big Ten. Rutgers could do in the Big Ten what Texas A&M just did in the SEC if it plays its cards correctly.
Laviano is a good start for the Knights, and developing him into a serious threat is a must for their staff.
Purdue had a good season this year, and made it to the Heart of Dallas Bowl on Jan. 1 as a result of the performance. Purdue's quarterback, Robert Marve, threw for 13 touchdowns to only three interceptions. While that's a decent performance, the Boilermakers could stand to find someone to double that statistical accomplishment.
Nothing against Marve, but Danny Etling is coming in ranked No. 11 in the 2013 quarterback class. Etling could be the catalyst that pushes Purdue to even greater heights in the Big Ten over the next few seasons.
He's certainly earned the right to be Purdue's main concern in 2013, and the Boilermakers should do whatever it is they need to do to keep him.
The Pitt Panthers will be seeking to secure a signature from the nation's No. 2 offensive tackle in Dorian Johnson. After having a rusher like Ray Graham around for these past few seasons, Pittsburgh should have plenty of clout when it comes to recruiting any position on the offensive line.
The second-ranked offensive tackle in the nation is certainly a great building block for the future Pitt offensive line. Pitt needs to make sure that he stays true to his commitment and doesn't hit cruise control after he gets to campus. The second part of that won't be difficult, but Johnson has received an offer from Alabama. It may be a little tricky getting him not to flip to the Tide, especially with the holes opening up over in Tuscaloosa.
Penn State Nittany Lions
Full Christian Hackenberg Scouting Report
Christian Hackenberg is the nation's top quarterback in the 2013 class, and he would be the most important recruit at any school he chose. He's been offered by the likes of Alabama, Miami and South Carolina, to name just a few schools he shunned in favor of the Nittany Lions.
If he develops well and stays for his senior season, he will be the quarterback of the first Penn State team allowed back into the postseason. That has to be exciting for Nittany Lions fans. Bill O'Brien did a great job landing this monster commit, and the Lions would love to see him sign in early February.
Oregon State Beavers
Steven Nelson is a JUCO transfer to the Oregon State Beavers, and he's a 4-star cornerback that should contribute immediately to the Beavers' defense. Oregon State had a great year in 2012, and its defense was a huge part of that success.
Ensuring that there are players like this who already have college football experience is a must if the Beavers want to continue to compete in one of the nation's top conferences. Nelson will play a big role against the passing attacks of teams like Oregon and USC.
If you get a chance to look at the highlight reel for Dontre Wilson, you will see that he already looks like an Oregon Ducks running back on the field. The Ducks may do better to put him on defense, as he is the nation's fifth-ranked athlete, but he would make a fine replacement for the departing Kenjon Barner.
Wilson brings speed to the table, and that's exactly what Oregon looks for in a football player. Whether he ends up a running back or a defensive back, expect to hear this kid's name a lot over the next three or four years.
Ole Miss Rebels
Ryan Buchanan is the 14th-ranked pocket passer in the class of 2013, and that's really what Ole Miss needs. They already had a dual-threat quarterback in Randall Mackey, and the Rebels chose to put him in as a wild card on offense.
Ryan Buchanan will give Ole Miss something it lacked before Hugh Freeze came along: focus. Ole Miss is in the country's best conference, and the Rebels have been dancing around relevance for years. While there is another quarterback in this signing class, he's got the dual-threat tag. Ole Miss doesn't need another jack-of-all-trades.
The Rebels need a quarterback, and Buchanan is nothing if he isn't a gunslinger.
Oklahoma State Cowboys
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Fred Ross, Jr. will bring an explosiveness to this offense that has been lacking since the Brandon Weeden-to-Justin Blackmon combination left for the NFL. No, Ross isn't the next Blackmon, but he's the best wide receiver on the Cowboys' recruiting roster.
Oklahoma State can use a lot of defensive help, so picking a defensive recruit was a lot like picking which shingle is your favorite on your roof. They all keep the roof from leaking. The offense needs specific help, and wide receivers are high on that list.
Ross will be yet another threat on the field that will keep defenses from keying on Josh Stewart.
Keith Ford is the No. 3 running back coming out of high school this season, and Oklahoma could really use another one of those. Damien Williams looked good this year for the Sooners, but he needs to be part of a one-two punch. They are far more effective.
Ford will bring a balance to this attack that will spread the opposing defenses out more, and the Sooners should ride that to a couple of Big 12 titles over the next three or four years. Losing Landry Jones will be a bit of a hit, but a great running back can lighten the load of the new starter.
Ohio State Buckeyes
Ohio State's theme during the 2012 season was "missed tackles." Should the Buckeyes tighten the fundamentals during the offseason, next year could look just as good but with the added bonus of a bowl appearance at the end.
Ohio State needs defensive recruits far more than offensive ones, and Eli Apple is exactly what the doctor ordered. Apple is the nation's third-ranked cornerback, and he's the only 5-star recruit on the Buckeyes' commit list at the moment. Ohio State has a great defensive class coming in, but Apple is clearly the headliner.
Notre Dame Fighting Irish
Cierre Wood and Theo Riddick are close to leaving South Bend, and there is currently no one ready to pick up the legacy they started. That is, until the Irish secured a commitment from Greg Bryant, the nation's No. 2 running back.
Bryant can bring an explosiveness to the rushing attack that will give Everett Golson a little more room in the passing game. With teams selling out against the run, Golson will also have to get rid of the ball faster, but that's just another place where Bryant shines: the screen game.
Northwestern is one of those programs that could seriously benefit from a true dual-threat quarterback. There are some teams out there that are so loaded with running backs that a quarterback like Matt Alviti would be detrimental to the cause.
Northwestern will gladly take the nation's fourth-best dual-threat quarterback and run with him. Judging from his highlight video, his passing ability is going to be welcome with the Wildcats as well.
NC State Wolfpack
Kyrin Priester will be a breath of fresh air to the NC State Wolfpack. With teams like Miami and Florida State stepping up the passing game, the Wolfpack need recruits like the 16th-ranked wide receiver in the class.
Priester will bring an edge to the NC State passing game that was missing through some of the 2012 season, and the Wolfpack could certainly ride recruits like him to at least a Chick-fil-A Bowl appearance within the next three years.
UNC Tar Heels
Brian Walker is the No. 14 cornerback of the 2013 class, and the UNC Tar Heels need to find a way to stop the Florida State Seminoles from scoring on them at-will through the air.
The Tar Heels might want to focus on defensive recruiting for the next couple of seasons at least, but a top-15 corner is a heck of a start. Walker is a 4-star out of Charlotte, North Carolina, and he will be a valuable asset to a team that will need a ton of defense to make up for the fact that Giovani Bernard is no longer scoring on offense.
If you caught the Big Ten title game, you noticed that Nebraska could seriously use any recruit that could stop the bleeding from the Wisconsin Badgers rushing attack.
Marcus Newby, the nation's No. 19 outside linebacker, will bring that capability to the collegiate level. Nebraska had better hope that it can secure that signature when national signing day comes around in February.
Navy is at a bit of a disadvantage when it comes to football, as the Midshipmen have to recruit kids that want to play football and join the military via the Navy.
As it stands, the Midshipmen are actively pursuing a defense, which they need badly. Austin Kurke is currently the 3-star headliner of the navy recruiting class, and he's a mere five points away from being a 40star recruit.
Navy got slaughtered by Notre Dame in the 2012 season opener by a score of 50-10. A 3-star defensive end is not a bad way to start putting together a defense that can put some serious pressure on the opposing quarterback.
Missouri did not do well in its first season in the SEC. Some fans may be waiting patiently for the Big 12 to invite the Tigers back, but they should at least wait out a few recruiting classes.
Missouri has some serious players on offense, despite the fact that the Tigers lost many more games than they won. The next aspect they need to buff up on the roster is defense.
Eric Beisel is the nation's 15th-ranked inside linebacker, and the Missouri Tigers desperately need some defense this season to help contend in the SEC. Even to finish in the middle of the SEC East, the Tigers would have had to win three more games this season.
Mississippi State Bulldogs
Mississippi State's Dan Mullen seems to have figured out a winning combination of offense and defense. While the defense certainly has been good over the past few seasons, this year's offense was a cut above the norm for the bulldogs.
Jeremey Chappelle will bring talent and experience to the receiving corps. He's a JUCO transfer from Tyler Junior College that will help Mississippi State land a little higher in the final SEC standings after the 2013 regular season.
Minnesota Golden Gophers
Jalen Myrick is tabbed as a cornerback, but his highlight video shows that he should probably be labeled an athlete. He's a running back, a receiver and a defensive back all rolled into one.
He will be a threat no matter where Minnesota places him, and the Golden Gophers will be sure to put him where he is of most use. From the results of the 2012 season, defense is probably the best bet.
Michigan State Spartans
Michigan State needs a little help on defense, and the Spartans need it as soon as possible. Shane Jones, the nation's sixth-best inside linebacker is on the way to help as long as the Spartans can keep him committed for another five weeks or so.
The Spartans could certainly use some offense as well, but the defense just barely dropped five of the six games that Sparty lost. (Notre Dame was a bit of a blowout, but still a manageable game if the offense had performed better.)
Excluding Notre Dame, Michigan State's five losses came by four points or fewer. One stellar linebacker can easily make a four-point difference.
Full Shane Morris Scouting Report
The Wolverines need a quarterback. Sure, after Denard Robinson was moved to tailback, things started looking up. However, the answer to Michigan's quarterback issue in the future lies in the No. 4-ranked pocket-passer coming out of high school this season, Shane Morris.
Morris is the type of passer that can take Michigan far into the future with success against almost everyone in the country. He is a must-get for the Hoke administration in 2013.
Full Kevin Olsen Scouting Report
While Michigan is chasing the fourth-ranked pocket-passer, the Miami Hurricanes have drawn a bead on passer No. 5. Kevin Olsen is that recruit, and Miami could definitely build an offense around him that would contend for the Orange Bowl or better for the next few years.
Olsen is one of the elite signal-callers heading into college football in 2013, and Miami would do not just itself, but the entire ACC a favor by strengthening its program. Olsen can certainly assist greatly with that mission.
Derwin Gray is the Maryland Terrapins' top offensive lineman of the 2013 signing class, and he can help Maryland by boosting the run game. Both leading rushers for the Terrapins in 2012 rushed for under 400 yards apiece.
Gray will be useful almost immediately, and the Terrapins can rely on him to keep the rushers safer than the line did this season. Offensive linemen may not get a ton of hype, but at times they make the difference between wins and losses more than the quarterback does.
Richard Benjamin is the selection for the Louisville Cardinals, and he's the 22nd-ranked wideout in the class. Louisville's Teddy Bridgewater led the Cardinals to the Sugar Bowl this season, and he did a lot of that work himself.
Bridgewater would have liked to have had more targets on the field, but he did a fine job with the ones he had. Another great target can separate Louisville from the pack and take them to yet another BCS bowl in the last season it will be used.
With the loss of Eric Reid, LSU will be looking for someone to replace him. Jeryl Brazil is the eighth-ranked defensive back/athlete that will be a valuable asset to the Tigers and a potential freshman contributor.
If Zach Mettenberger needs more help on offense than the Tigers need on defense, he will undoubtedly line up in the offensive backfield. If he turns out to be half the defensive back that he projects to be, he can be the difference-maker against the other SEC powerhouses.
The triumvirate of Texas A&M, LSU and Alabama in the SEC West doesn't look to be getting any weaker, and the other teams will have a long way to go before truly contending with the levels of success at those institutions.
Kentucky only won two games in 2012, and only one of those wins came off an FBS opponent. Kentucky needs players at almost every position on the field, but the most important player to Kentucky's success is Za'Darius Smith.
He's defensive end and a JUCO transfer, so he can step in and contribute not only on the field, but off the field as well. Smith was selected to the second string of the JUCO All-America Team, and he will be a welcome change of pace from the current lack of success at Kentucky.
Kansas State Wildcats
Oh, what Kansas State would have given to put the No. 23 inside linebacker on the field against Baylor this season. Nick Ramirez is that kid, and he will be coming to Kansas State the year after Collin Klein's final season.
Unfortunately for Kansas State, that will be a little too late for a serious run at a national championship, but it's still in time for a run at the conference title. Many Big 12 quarterbacks were seniors in 2012, and the conference as a whole will be rebuilding on offense. That may give Ramirez the credibility to start as a freshman and earn his stripes immediately.
Kansas State needed a turbo boost to its defense in at least one game this season. If Ramirez can provide that boost, he's golden with the Wildcats.
Marquel Combs is a JUCO transfer to Kansas on the disgustingly lacking defensive side of the ball. He is a 4-star defensive tackle, and his presence is sorely needed with the Jayhawks.
Kansas beat the South Dakota State Jackrabbits in the 2012 season opener, and that was the first and last victory of the year. Kansas is in dire need of any football player that can come in and earn playing time. That makes this transfer beneficial to both sides.
Kansas had nothing in 2012, and even just one defensive end would be a small victory for Charlie Weis.
Iowa State Cyclones
Shawn Curtis is the lone 4-star recruit on the Iowa State slate at the moment, and he is the 29th-ranked offensive tackle in the class. Judging by the fact that Iowa State's leading rusher barely cracked 500 yards, Curtis will be appreciated on the Cyclones' offensive line.
Curtis brings talent to the defense that Iowa State was noticeably missing this season, and Kansas may have the foundation for a decent defense before too long.
Jon Wisnieski is a powerful tight end, and he is ranked No. 8 nationally. As the video says, he could go linebacker as easily as he could go to the tight end spot, but Iowa needs a big, physical tight end to help lift the offense above mediocrity.
Iowa struggled in 2012, and Wisnieski is definitely the answer to offensive issues that the Hawkeyes are facing.
Indiana missed out on four wins by four or fewer points apiece, and one single player on offense or defense could make a four-point difference.
That's where Rashard Fant comes into play. He is the No. 15 athlete in the 2013 class, and he's committed to the Indiana Hoosiers. If the Hoosiers can hang on to him and he can contribute as a freshman, next season could at least see Indiana playing in the postseason.
Illinois Fighting Illini
Illinois limped away from the 2012 season with only two wins. There is not a single recruit on their commit list that isn't important to the progress of the program, but there is one standout that can solve many of their problems: Darius Mosely.
This athlete from O'Fallon, Illinois can come to the field as a defensive back, a wide receiver and possibly a returner. Illinois was far from competing in the Big Ten, and they are going to need some serious help on both offense and defense. Averaging 16.7 points per game is just not going to work, so the Illini might want to make sure he lines up on offense.
The defense would have to improve to an elite level in one year to help the offense win games. That is not going to happen. Illinois needs to focus on scoring points more than defense right now. After that, defense can become a priority.
Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets
Georgia Tech ran an offense that took them to the ACC title game against Florida State in 2012. Yes, there were some circumstances that also helped that happen, but the Yellow Jackets did what needed to be done to make that happen.
One thing that can seriously improve Georgia Tech's performance is an improved offensive line. The current line is not bad at all, but offensive tackle Shamire Devine will be a nice addition to the squad that blocks for so many options on the ground.
Georgia Tech's offense may look flashy with all kinds of rushing numbers and a high completion-to-touchdown ratio due to the minimalist approach to the passing game, but the offensive line is the place where the entire offense passes or fails.
Georgia fields a great offense and a solid defense, but the Bulldogs are well-stocked on the offensive side of the ball for the time being. Only Texas A&M scored more points than Georgia against Alabama, and the Aggies only scored one more point than the Bulldogs.
Georgia can compete in a national championship game with just a little boost on defense, and Shaq Wiggins can provide that boost. He's the No. 5 cornerback in the 2013 class, and he is committed to Georgia. The Bulldogs are perennial contenders in the SEC, and they have made two conference title games in a row. With a little help, they can pull off the win in the near future, and that will either land them in the BCS championship game or the playoffs in 2014.
Florida State Seminoles
Florida State missed the national championship by just two games. It was really the NC State game that did them in, because it took the wind out of their sails. If the Seminoles had entered the Florida game undefeated, they may have played with more gusto and actually won.
There's no way to know whether that is even potentially true until next season, when the Seminoles traverse the ACC schedule again with the national championship in mind. Ryan Green, the sixth-best running back in the nation, will help the Seminoles achieve that goal.
There were four running backs with over 90 carries each in 2012, but none of them ran for even 700 yards. Green may be able to bring that every-down endurance to the corps of running backs at Florida State. If he does, then the other backs will be freed up to play more tight-end type roles on offense.
Florida State didn't have anyone that could really wear down an SEC defense like Florida's. Green comes in at 187 pounds. A little time in the weight room can have him playing at an SEC level in the ACC. That could make the difference for the 2013 edition of the Seminoles.
Full Vernon Hargreaves III Scouting Report
Florida has commitments from two of the nation's positional No. 1 recruits. One plays at running back, and the other is at cornerback. Florida already has a lethal rushing attack, so the tailback recruit cannot be the most important to the cause.
That leaves Vernon Hargreaves III, the nation's top corner. He will come in and help Florida immediately shut down the opposing passing game. It will take a while before Florida is known for suffocating defense across the board, but Hargreaves will step things up for the Gators in 2013.
Florida is missing very little to contend for a national championship, and the Gators would have probably made it into this year's title game if Notre Dame had fallen to USC. Hargreaves is a difference-maker and is definitely the most important recruit on the Gators' list.
Duke Blue Devils
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Duke had a great run in 2012, but seemed to hit a plateau after gaining bowl-eligibility for the first time since 1994. Quarterback Sean Renfree had a lot to do with the accomplishments of the Blue Devils, but there is always room for anyone ranked nationally in the top 10 at any position.
That brings us to the No. 6 center in the class, and that's Austin Davis. Davis can provide the protection that Anthony Boone will need as he takes over where Renfree left off. If Davis can perform as well as expected, Duke may just go to a bowl game for a second year in a row.
UConn's quarterback, Chandler Whitmer, threw nine touchdown passes and 16 interceptions. Even if those stats were reversed, they wouldn't be that great a pair of numbers. While there are people in front of this recruit, the Huskies could certainly use him. He's Richard Lagow, the 34th-ranked pocket-passer of the 2013 signing class.
The Huskies need to improve in the quarterback area, and that's nothing against their current starter. He just isn't going to take them to a conference title, that's all.
There's no way to sugar-coat a one-win season, and we're not going to try. The Colorado Buffaloes are having a difficult time of late, and they need some serious recruits.
Right now, the biggest potential game-changer on the commit list is No. 19-quarterback Sefo Liufau. He's a dual-threat guy that will bring success to the Colorado team that they have yet to see in the Pac-12.
Colorado really has nowhere to go but up, and Liufau is the Buffaloes ticket out of the bottom of the Pac-12.
Clemson has the sixth-ranked scoring offense and the 47th-ranked scoring defense. With those stats, it's easy to see where the Tigers need to improve. Defensively, Clemson didn't have an answer for either Florida State or South Carolina in 2012.
In 2013, the Tigers definitely have a solution on the commit list. His name is Ben Boulware, and he's the third-ranked inside linebacker in this year's class. Clemson will now have a way to put serious pressure on the opponents' rushing attacks and their quarterbacks.
Cincinnati is in the exact opposite situation as Clemson. The Bearcats have a great defense, but the offense is lacking effectiveness. The Bearcats could certainly find a place for running back Marcus Levy as soon as he arrives.
Levy will bring some zing to this offense that will take pressure off the passing attack and possibly help Cincinnati win a conference title. With any luck, the Bearcats may win the title outright and end up in a BCS bowl.
California Golden Bears
Cameron Hunt is a 267-pound offensive tackle out of Corona, California. He's 13th at his position, and he will bring some bulldozing power to the Cal offensive line in 2013. The Golden Bears haven't had much issue blowing holes for the running backs, but they couldn't do it at-will.
Both tailbacks with over 700 yards only scored four touchdowns apiece, and a bigger offensive line could easily add to the effectiveness of the rushing attack.
BYU's scoring defense is ranked fourth in the country, and the offense is lagging far behind at 68th. The Cougars need athletes on offense that can take advantage of the positions that the defense is putting them in.
That man is athlete Johnny Ragin III out of Wilsonville, Oregon. He's having a stellar season in high school, and he will be a valuable asset wherever he's placed at BYU. If they can secure the signature, they should start him training as a tight end. At 208 pounds, he would be a formidable foe to bring down, and his athleticism would make him a great target for the quarterback.
Boston College Eagles
Boston College solved one of its issues by firing head coach Frank Spaziani after the two-win debacle that was the 2012 season. The other issues facing Boston College are largely personnel-related. The Eagles don't have the players necessary for success in the ACC.
It will take a few years to put together successful seasons that lead to better recruiting, but Tim Boyle is a good start. He's a pocket-passer ranked 36th in this season's signing class, and he can lead the Eagles to better years than they saw under Spaziani.
Baylor needs defense badly, but its quarterback is leaving after 2012. Baylor needs Chris Johnson more than anyone else on its list of recruiting targets. He is the third-ranked dual-threat quarterback of this class, and he will keep Baylor's offense as good as it has been over the past couple of years. Sure, he may need some time to develop before he hits the field, but he's still the most important recruit for the Bears in 2013.
If there were any top 10 defender on the list, he would be the subject of this slide. However, Baylor seems to be having trouble recruiting defenders. (That's surprising, because a defender would have a great chance of skipping over the redshirt and playing as a true freshman.)
Auburn is a school in turmoil. Just two seasons after winning a national title against the Oregon Ducks, the Tigers finished with only three wins. None of those wins came in conference play. Auburn needs a coach, and it needs recruits.
Auburn is in the SEC, so it is a given that defense will be the difference-maker for the Tigers. (After all, that's how Florida got to the Sugar Bowl this season.) There is enough talent on the offense that a good coach can orchestrate it to score 20 points per game without much effort.
The defense will need players like Carl Lawson, the nation's No. 2 defensive end. Lawson is a beast, and he will bring pass-rushing, run-stuffing talent to the Auburn defense. A defense built around a player like Lawson can't possibly win fewer than five games, assuming the other kids on the field take football as seriously as he does.
Army Black Knights
Army is in the same boat as Navy. Both schools have to choose recruits from the lot of kids willing to sign up for military service. As such, the Black Knights rarely get to recruit a highly rated talent.
One notable exception in this year's class is offensive guard Patrick Joseph, who is No. 29 at his position in the class of '13. Joseph can come in and provide the Black Knights with protection for their quarterback and edge-sealing prowess for the rushing attack.
Army may be well short of competing for a national championship, but bowl season is just a few more wins away. Admittedly, this season was bad, and the Knights only walked away with two wins. However, Army lost five games by two touchdowns or fewer.
It doesn't take much improvement to make a 14-point difference over a period of 60 minutes.
Arkansas is one of the few teams that had a season far worse than expected, and it was due to the coaching turmoil that occurred during last offseason. Arkansas had all the talent necessary to contend for the SEC title and the national title.
Tyler Wilson just couldn't get it done with John L. Smith at the helm. So, as far as important recruits goes, a tight end is near the top of the list. With Wilson leaving the program and plenty of talent on the field in terms of wide receivers and running backs, the tight end is the missing link for the Razorbacks.
Luckily for Arkansas, the No. 2 tight end of the 2013 class is committed to the Hogs. If the Hogs can secure the signature, Hunter Henry will arrive on campus in the fall of 2013 to add another facet to the Arkansas offense.
If he does well enough, the Hogs can contend for the SEC title and begin to forget about the John L. Smith year immediately.
Arizona State Sun Devils
Arizona State has a huge commit in Joshua Dobbs, the No. 6 dual-threat quarterback of the class. The Sun Devils competed with some of the best in the Pac-12, but fell short of defeating any of the four teams that contended for the conference title.
Dobbs can bring something to the table for the Sun Devils, and that's balance to an offense that's already pretty good. Dobbs can give the Pac-12 elite something to genuinely worry about whenever Arizona State's defense trots off the field.
A recruit ranked No. 6 at any position would be an important target, but Dobbs is at the position that could make the biggest difference in Arizona State's ability to contend for titles.
Depending on which Arizona shows up to play in each game, the Wildcats are deficient in completely different areas of the game. Against Oregon, the Wildcats didn't have offense or defense. Against Oklahoma State, they didn't have defense. Against UCLA, the Wildcats again looked inept on both sides of the ball.
What Arizona needs is an athlete that they can plug into whatever position they happen to need at the time. Samajie Grant is the No. 31 athlete in the class, and he will bring joy to whichever side of the ball he ends up on.
Whether he is a defensive back or a wide receiver, he's a great candidate to be an explosive returner for the Wildcats.
Alabama Crimson Tide
Alabama was plagued by injuries this season, and the Tide lost a ton of players on offense. Wide receivers and running backs seemed to be dropping like flies throughout the Tide's potential national championship run.
The most important recruit of the 2013 class has to be Derrick Henry. He's the No. 3 athlete according to ESPN, but others have him tabbed as a running back. Since Eddie Lacy is leaving for the NFL this coming draft, the running back tag is quite appropriate.
With the stable of tailbacks Alabama has available in 2013, it's difficult to imagine a situation where the Tide has to field a mediocre rusher. Much like in 2012, when injury ripped through the offense and brought T.J. Yeldon to the center ring. As it turned out, he was not mediocre at all.