10 Teams That Need to Step It Up on 2014 College Football Recruiting Trail
The recruiting trail becomes more challenging and important each cycle. Washington must take the next step and improve its current class or fall back to square one under Steve Sarkisian.
Steve Spurrier has to be somewhat concerned with his low totals. If he wants to continue competing for SEC East titles, the Ol' Ball Coach and his staff need to get goingl.
The Virginia schools also must step up, as Mike London and Frank Beamer may not see this much exceptional in-state talent again during their tenures.
Mark Helfrich has the Ducks beginning their recruiting efforts earlier than how they operated under Chip Kelly. So far, the new approach has netted results, but Helfrich needs to increase them.
Oregon has three pledges and all three are just 3-star prospects, per 247Sports. The Ducks must begin to go big-game hunting or they will see their Pac-12 rivals bring in superior classes.
Because of the success Charlie Weis had as a recruiter at Notre Dame, the expectation upon his hiring at Kansas was that he would elevate the Jayhawks' recruiting.
His 2013 class was mainly JUCO prospects, and this year, Weis has only two commitments. Though 4-star RB Traevohn Wrench is a good prospect, Weis has to start to add to his class immediately.
For him to challenge Mack Brown of Texas and Bob Stoops of Oklahoma with schemes on the field, Weis is going to need talent first.
8. South Carolina
Columbia is going to be an exciting place this fall, as South Carolina looks to win the SEC East and get to Atlanta for the title game. Steve Spurrier doesn't spend much time at the office in the offseason, but he's still one of the brightest minds in the business.
Which is why the Gamecocks will likely also step up their recruiting efforts soon. Right now, according to 247Sports, South Carolina has the second-worst class in the SEC.
Spurrier has had his program in the Top 25 on a consistent basis in recent years. Now is the time for him to start working some magic and begin to ascend up the rankings.
7. Washington State
Frankly, Mike Leach must step up on the recruiting trail. If not, Wazzu's recruiting stature will once again plateau (and maybe regress), and that's not why Leach was hired.
His exciting and high-octane passing attack was expected to not only put people in the seats but also attract better talent. As of now, Leach has three 3-star commitments, according to 247Sports, which is fine but better quality is needed going forward.
Based on the Big Ten recruiting rankings at 247Sports, Big Red has the second-worst class in the conference. Only Purdue is ranked below it and June is almost here, which means the middle of the recruiting cycle is approaching and Nebraska has just two commits.
Bo Pelini is a great coach and Nebraska can compete in the Big Ten. However, if he doesn't step up on the 2014 recruiting trail, he's going to have a hard time beating Michigan's Brady Hoke and Ohio State's Urban Meyer.
Washington makes this list not because of how it is recruiting, but because this is a key time in Pac-12 recruiting. USC is not as dominant as it has been in the past, which means the recruiting throne is there for the taking.
Steve Sarkisian and his staff of good recruiters need to go full tilt on the trail this year if their aim of becoming the dominant recruiting school out West is to be realized.
4. Mississippi State
The Bulldogs have seen the rise of their rivals in Oxford make them the "other" program in Mississippi. Right now, Ole Miss has the No. 11 class, per 247Sports, and Mississippi State has the No. 51 class.
If Dan Mullen, who signed a solid 2013 class, thought Hugh Freeze just had a lucky year last cycle, it is time to abandon that thought. Ole Miss is for real. MSU needs to step up its recruiting game or concede the state to the Rebels.
UCLA coach Jim Mora has put together two good recruiting classes in Westwood and also defeated USC last year. So there is confidence and momentum for the program in West Los Angeles to take over the city and Pac-12.
However, Mora has received only one commitment, while USC has five. If Mora is going to supplant USC, he's going to have to make his move with this 2014 cycle.
1. & 2. Virginia and Virginia Tech
With prospects such as Da'Shawn Hand, Andrew Brown, Jalyn Holmes, Derrick Nnadi and Jamil Kamara all being from Virginia and uncommitted, it is easy to see why this is such a special year in the state.
Both Virginia and Virginia Tech must dominate in-state recruiting this year. Mike London has already landed stud safety Quin Blanding and is working on several others.
Frank Beamer and Bud Foster are trying their hardest to bring Hand to Blacksburg. Hand would be Beamer's biggest recruit since Kevin Jones in 2001.
Edwin Weathersby is the College Football Recruiting Analyst for Bleacher Report. He has worked in scouting/player personnel departments for three professional football teams, including the New York Giants and Cleveland Browns.