Every Top 25 Team's Biggest Recruiting Need in Class of 2014
Recruiting is the lifeblood for every college football program. Teams must replenish and restock their rosters with young talent every year to assure the program has depth to compete at a high level each season.
College rosters are hit hard every year with graduation, dismissals, academic issues, injuries and the draft. The best recruiting programs are led by staffs who recruit with the idea to fill future needs as determined by the future turnover on their roster.
As this 2014 recruiting cycle moves on, every team in the country has needs it must fill on the trail. Taking a look at Adam Kramer's post-spring top 25 rankings, the defending champion needs a left tackle and Chip Kelly left Mark Helfrich with low numbers at the defensive tackle position.
25. Arizona State
The Sun Devils, who are led by coach Todd Graham, will come into the 2013 season looking to make their presence felt in the Pac-12. Graham has the program clicking and there's excitement in Tempe.
On the recruiting front, Graham and his staff must fill its need for skilled position players on offense.
They missed out on quarterback Kyle Allen.
However, landing in-state receiver prospect Jalen Brown would be an excellent accomplishment for Arizona State.
Baylor, who runs a high-octane offense, will not have any problems scoring points. However, the Bears' defense needs to be shored up in this class, especially at the defensive tackle position.
Baylor, who won a fierce recruiting battle for defensive tackle Andrew Billings last year, needs big bodies in the defensive trenches. Art Briles has not landed many defensive tackle prospects in recent recruiting years and must sign multiple interior defensive linemen in 2014.
The Wildcats, who could be a real contender in the B1G, have a fantastic coach in Pat Fitzgerald. Recruiting can be tough at times for Northwestern, but Fitzgerald finds tough football players who also can excel academically.
In 2013, Northwestern only signed one defensive lineman and has only one current commitment for its defensive front, so adding multiple recruits in his class at the position is critical. The Wildcats will sign a fairly small recruiting class, but it must include several defensive linemen.
22. Boise State
Chris Petersen, who is one of the best coaches in the country, does not run a program known for its recruiting prowess. The Broncos will not sign a top-25 class and will not land any 5-star recruits.
However, Petersen routinely has them in the top-25 rankings in the fall and contending for BCS bowls. To continue that success, Boise State must fill its need for offensive linemen. The Broncos signed just two in its previous class and the offensive line unit demands depth.
21. Oregon State
The Beavers, who went a surprising 9-4 last year, are not among the top Pac-12 recruiting teams. However, they play solid football, and it starts with their offensive line.
Oregon State, who signed only two offensive linemen in 2013, needs to sign four to seven in this class. Mike Riley must emphasize addressing the Beavers' need for blockers in this recruiting cycle.
The Beavers must also add more speed and firepower at the receiver position.
Nebraska, which has produced cornerbacks such as Prince Amukamara and Alfonzo Dennard, needs to sign a wealth of defensive backs in 2014. Graduation is set to hit this unit hard, as several incumbents will be moving on after 2013 or 2014.
The Cornhuskers, who currently have three commitments from prospects who can play defensive back, should aspire to sign six in 2014. Bo Pelini not only needs depth at the position, but he will need defensive back recruits who can play early.
The Sooners, who will be breaking in a new quarterback this season, have big needs in the trenches. The offensive line unit will be hit hard by graduation over the next two seasons, so restocking the roster with blockers is a dire need.
Oklahoma only has one current offensive line commitment.
Bob Stoops would also be wise to sign a quick, gap-penetrating three-technique defensive tackle or two. The Sooners, who struck out on 2013 recruit Justin Manning, have no defensive line commitments.
The Bruins, who have their eyes on winning the Pac-12 South, have two commitments from receivers. However, they will continue to add more in this class, as well as multiple running backs.
Jim Mora Jr. understands that the Pac-12 is a league to be won by scoring points. To score points, talent at the offensive skill positions is needed and this is UCLA's biggest recruiting need.
Also, a Pac-12 team can never have too many pass-rushing defensive ends and outside linebackers.
17. Oklahoma State
Oklahoma State, which has seen quarterback Wes Lunt transfer to Illinois, is a program known for scoring points. Yet, the Cowboys' defense has operated under a "bend, but don't break" philosophy in recent seasons.
The Cowboys, who also need several linebackers in this class, have no young defensive tackles on their roster. Upperclassmen rule the defensive tackle depth chart and if Mike Gundy does not sign several young interior defensive trench players, his defense will be thin in the middle in a season or two.
Mack Brown, who may be starting to hear retirement whispers in Austin, has had his share of great pass-rushers. Former Longhorns such as Brian Orakpo to Alex Okafor to Jackson Jeffcoat have wrecked havoc in the Big 12.
However, Brown did not land a pass-rusher in 2013, so defensive ends are needed in Austin. Texas has three defensive end commitments, including one from Derick Roberson, but perhaps an additional one or two would re-solidify the Longhorns' future ability to get to the passer.
The Horned Frogs, who are expected to contend for the Big 12 title, are ran by Gary Patterson, who is an excellent coach. He has built TCU into a respected program with far more limited resources than he would have at many other programs.
Patterson is coach who made his hay on the defensive side of the ball. He runs a scheme that varies on alignments and requires smart players on the second and third levels.
TCU needs to sign a class full of good linebackers and defensive backs, especially safeties. It is time for Patterson to begin to groom a new crop of young players on his defensive back seven.
The Tigers, who are fiercely after stud running back recruit Leonard Fournette, have not signed a running back in two recruiting cycles. They have sent a loud and clear message to Fournette, who not only is the top player in their state but also in the nation.
However, their eggs should not be all in one basket, as LSU needs multiple runners in this class. Signing three running backs will definitely help in Baton Rouge.
13. Florida State
The Seminoles, who are expected to start Jameis Winston at quarterback, need offensive linemen. The need is obvious and clear, as Florida State has signed just five blockers from 2012-2013.
However, Jimbo Fisher does possess three commitments from offensive linemen. FSU is no stranger to stockpiling it's offensive trenches, as it once signed eight offensive linemen in 2011.
Brady Hoke, who begins his first post-Denard Robinson season, has done an excellent job recruiting at Michigan. Hoke has specifically recruited well at the offensive line position.
Michigan has signed 11 blockers over the past two recruiting cycles. However, numbers have been down for Hoke at the defensive end position. He signed just one last year and has only brought seven to Ann Arbor since 2011.
Aside from going after stud defensive end Da'Shawn Hand, look for Big Blue to hunt several edge defenders in this class.
The Gators, who will have one of the most talented teams in the country, have already hit on a major recruiting need. Will Grier, who is from North Carolina, is one of the best quarterback prospects in the country and has committed to Florida.
Florida, who missed out on offensive lineman Laremy Tunsil last year, must now gather several offensive linemen to help protect Grier in the future. Adding multiple defensive backs would also be a good idea.
The Tigers, who return quarterback Tajh Boyd and receiver Sammy Watkins, could be losing offensive coordinator Chad Morris after this season. Morris has done such a great job for the Tigers that he will have his share of head coaching opportunities after this season.
Dabo Swinney will be potentially forced to replace Morris and probably both Boyd and Watkins. Quarterback commitment Deshaun Watson fills a major need. Swinney must also emphasize adding several top-tier receiver prospects.
9. South Carolina
The Gamecocks, who are definitely in the hunt for the SEC East title, will be looking to replace Jadeveon Clowney. The stud defensive end will undoubtedly be leaving Columbia to be the No. 1 pick in the draft after this season.
Steve Spurrier must land several defensive ends in this class. The Ol' Ball Coach also has a need at the receiver position due to the Gamecocks signing only one true receiver prospect in 2013.
Charlie Strong, who once was the defensive chief at Florida, is fresh off a BCS bowl win last season and will have a Heisman Trophy-contender in quarterback Teddy Bridgewater.
With Strong being a defensive coach, the Cardinals' front seven will be addressed on the recruiting trail. Louisville's top recruiting need is adding more depth on its defensive line and at linebacker.
Aside from depth reasons, another purpose for why Louisville must stock up on front-seven defenders is because it will be moving into the Big Ten in 2014. With the B1G being a traditional run-dominated conference, having good players and depth at defensive line and linebacker is critical for success.
7. Notre Dame
Brian Kelly, who can be tough on his quarterbacks, saw two leave this spring. Gunner Kiel transferred to Cincinnati and Everett Golson is no longer enrolled at Notre Dame.
So quarterback quickly became a need in South Bend, and DeShone Kizer, an Elite 11 finalist, committed last week. However, do not be surprised if Kelly goes after another passer.
The Irish hauled in a good offensive line class last year, but need to add more for depth.
The Bulldogs, who lost several key members of its defense from last season, will bring back quarterback Aaron Murray for one last attempt to win the SEC.
Mark Richt has signed good quarterback prospects over his recent recruiting classes, so replacing Murray won't be tough. However, replacing his two stud running backs in Keith Marshall and Todd Gurley potentially as early as after the 2014 season is a need that has been filled.
Richt has commitments from Sony Michel and Nick Chubb, two of the best running backs in the nation. Also, Georgia plays in a big-boy conference, so it must continue to stockpile offensive and defensive linemen.
The Cardinal, who will be a favorite to win the Pac-12 once again, have two major recruiting needs. On offense, Stanford will be affected by several running backs likely graduating after this season and it needs to add another running back commitment or two to Christian McCaffrey's.
On defense, David Shaw needs to add multiple defensive backs. He has a commitment from safety Brandon Simmons, who will start one day, but more defensive backs are needed on The Farm.
Oregon, who begins the post-Chip Kelly era this year, is a program known for its speed on offense. The Ducks outrun defenses every Saturday and have a dominant offense.
Kelly spent so much time recruiting speed at the offensive skill positions that he forgot to add enough young depth at the defensive tackle position. Oregon's two-deep defensive tackle depth chart lacks young bodies and the Ducks do not have any defensive line commitments.
New head coach Mark Helfrich must sign between three and seven defensive line recruits.
3. Texas A&M
The Aggies, who will be in their second year in the SEC, feature superstar quarterback Johnny Manziel and a high-scoring offense. Recruiting has gone well for Texas A&M, as they are on pace for a top-five class.
The Aggies have two good defensive back commitments in Nick Harvey and Dylan Sumner-Gardner. The pair of secondary players help fill the Aggies' greatest recruiting need of defensive back. Kevin Sumlin also needs to continue loading up on offensive linemen, as his offense is also as good as its front unit.
2. Ohio State
The Buckeyes, who have become a dominant recruiting program once again, made linebacker a priority last year. Urban Meyer made a late run and landed linebackers Trey Johnson and Mike Mitchell.
Ohio State currently the favorite to land Raekwon McMillan, the nation's top inside/middle linebacker prospect. Meyer also must sign several offensive linemen who fit his spread-option offense.
Meyer has two offensive line commitments but surely will increase that total before the end of this cycle.
The Crimson Tide will enter the season with big expectations to defend their title. Nick Saban has a ridiculously talented roster, however it does still have needs.
Left tackle Cyrus Kouandjio, who once was committed to Auburn, could opt to leave school early for the draft after this season. After missing out on left tackle Laremy Tunsil in 2013 recruiting, it is critical for 'Bama to land an elite left tackle prospect. Saban has two offensive line commitments, but both of those players are interior blockers.
Cameron Robinson, who is from Louisiana, is the top left tackle on Alabama's board. He is the most important target for Alabama's 2014 recruiting cycle.
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.