10 Schools Loading Up on Defense in Recruiting Class of 2014

Edwin WeathersbyAnalyst IJuly 15, 2013

10 Schools Loading Up on Defense in Recruiting Class of 2014

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    Offenses have become more potent in today's game, and rule changes have put defenses be at a disadvantage. However, the right defensive scheme and players can still challenge great offenses.

    Coaches continue to say "defense wins championships," as finding athletic and instinctive defensive recruits on the trail is still a priority. Some programs choose to recruit heavily on one side of the ball, and alternate between emphasizing offensive and defensive prospects each recruiting cycle. Several schools are using the 2014 recruiting cycle to load up on the defensive side of the ball.

    An SEC school with a potent offensive attack is stacking up on defensive recruits. A Big Ten program known for its toughness is re-building its defense and several mid-major programs are also stressing defense. 

    Player evaluations are based on review of tape at Scout.comRivals247Sports ESPNU.

South Carolina

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    Total commitments according to Scout.com: Nine

    Total defensive commitments: Six

    Although Steve Spurrier has a small class, the well-known offensive-minded head coach has chosen to emphasize defense. Spurrier has six pledges from defenders led by outside linebacker/defensive end Bryson Allen-Williams.

    Cornerback Wesley Green will be able to match up with SEC receivers on the perimeter and in the slot. 

    Also, linebacker Joe Blue is a stout run-defender with good toughness. Spurrier has evolved from a coach who paid little attention to defense, to a leader who understands that, to win in the SEC, a program must have a great defense.




Bowling Green

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    Total commitments according to Scout.com: 12

    Total defensive commitments: Seven

    Dave Clawson is the leader of the Falcons and they are ready to have a good season in the MAC. They will not sign a Top 25 class, but Clawson is stocking his defensive units with solid talent.

    Bowling Green has seven commitments from defensive prospects, and Clawson is adding size to his secondary. All three defensive back recruits, led by 6'2" safety Ben Hale, stand 6'0" or taller. Defensive tackle Tyler King—a 6'3", 270-pounder from Ohio—leads the defensive line class. 

    The MAC is known for breeding head coaches, but Clawson seems more focused on building a good defense.



3 of 10

    Total commitments according to Scout.com: 13

    Total defensive commitments: Eight

    Matt Rhule, who previously was an offensive assistant with the New York Giants, is in his first year as head coach of the Owls. Rhule is a Penn State alum who should attempt to lock down Philadelphia, and then spread across the Keystone State. 

    Rhule has recruited well, as the Owls have a Top 50 class, per Scout.com. He has eight defensive commitments, led by 6'1" cornerback Anthony Davis, who is one of five defensive back pledges.

    Rhule played linebacker for the Nittany Lions, so he demands size at the position, as linebacker commitments Sharif Finch and Brenon Thrift are 6'4", 210 pounds and 6'3", 235 pounds, respectively. 


Western Michigan

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    Total commitments according to Scout.com: 18

    Total defensive commitments: Ten

    P.J. Fleck has taken over the Broncos program, and he should do well at Western Michigan. Fleck has coached at Ohio State, Rutgers, and for the San Francisco 49ers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

    Fleck has attacked the trail in search defensive recruits.

    He has ten pledges from defenders, as he has a Top 50 class, says Scout.com. Fleck's two headliners are linebacker Robert Spillane and defensive tackle Nick Matich.

    However, the strength of Western Michigan's class is in the secondary, as it has six commitments from defensive backs.


San Diego State

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    Total commitments according to Scout.com: 12

    Total defensive commitments: Eight

    Rocky Long replaced Brady Hoke at San Diego State, and he has done a solid job of sustaining the program's success it obtained under Hoke's leadership. Long is a former defensive coordinator, so it's not shocking he has loaded up on that side of the ball in recruiting.

    He has eight commitments from defensive players, as linebackers Cameron Griffin and Donavin Buck lead the way.

    Long has searched across the country to build his defensive class, as states such as Louisiana, Nevada, Georgia and California are represented. 

Michigan State

6 of 10

    Total commitments according to Scout.com: 12

    Total defensive commitments: Seven

    Mark Dantonio is a good head coach and has put the Spartans in a position to annually challenge for Big Ten titles. Toughness, size and defense continues to be the general theme of the B1G, and Dantonio understands how to properly build a team.

    Safety Byron Bullough is Dantonio's top defensive commitment, but do not be shocked if Bullough grows into an outside linebacker.

    Defensive tackle Enoch Smith is a great run-defender, and his style of play is a good fit in the Big Ten. Linebacker Deon Drake, who is 6'1" and 210 pounds, is an underrated player to keep an eye on. 



Georgia Tech

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    Total commitments according to Scout.com: 12

    Total defensive commitments: Ten

    Georgia Tech is not a dominant recruiting program, but it signs players who are great fits for its offensive and defensive systems. The Yellow Jackets emphasize players who hustle, are smart and have versatility.

    Paul Johnson has 12 commitments, ten of which are defensive players. Linebackers Tre Jackson and KeShun Freeman are Johnson's top defensive pledges.

    However, the most interesting part of Georgia Tech's class is that it has three defensive back commitments from Lamar County Comprehensive High School in Georgia, as Qua Searcy, Lance Austin and Lawrence Austin are all future secondary players with the Yellow Jackets.


Texas A&M

8 of 10

    Total commitments according to Scout.com: 14

    Total defensive commitments: Eight

    The Aggies have an excellent offense, as they proved they will be able to score points vs. SEC defenses in 2012. However, as a program that will be playing with the lead in many of its games, it is critical for Texas A&M to have a good defense to preserve leads.

    Kevin Sumlin has emphasized defensive recruiting, with linebacker Hoza Scott and defensive back Nick Harvey leading a group of eight commitments.

    Linebacker Josh Walker is a solid pass-rusher and safety Dylan Sumner-Gardner is will be a starter early in his career. Defensive linemen DeShawn Washington and Jarrett Johnson are good recruits, and Cedric Collins is a solid cornerback prospect.

    All eight defensive pledges are from Texas. 


9 of 10

    Total commitments according to Scout.com: 20

    Total defensive commitments: 11

    Quarterback Drew Barker is the headliner of Kentucky's class, but defensive commitments such as safety Darius West, defensive end Denzel Ware and cornerback Mike Edwards are not far behind. West and Edwards are Ohio defensive backs with good instincts.

    Ware is a great pass-rusher, as he can also stand up and play outside linebacker. JUCO commit Shyquawn Pullium is a 6'1" cornerback with good speed. His teammate, linebacker Ryan Flannigan, will also join him in Lexington.

    Mark Stoops is a former defensive coordinator who knows exactly what he wants in a defensive prospect at each position. So far, he has found 11 perfect fits for his defensive system.

Florida State

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    Total commitments according to Scout.com: 18

    Total defensive commitments: 10

    The Seminoles have ten defensive commitments listed, but cornerback prospect Treon Harris will get consideration as a quarterback, according his Father Tim Harris, per Jamie Newberg of Scout.com (subscription required)

    Harris is a great athlete, as he possess the skills to be a good dual-threat quarterback. However, cornerback is his better long-term position, as he should focus on his cover skills immediately after arriving in Tallahassee.

    Physical linebacker Kain Daub is the top defensive commitment for Florida State, as he is outstanding against the run. 

    Cornerback JoJo Robinson—who may also play on offense—is a quick athlete who could develop into the next great Florida State defensive back.

    Safety Trey Marshall has great range in the secondary. Defensive tackle DeMarcus Christmas will add good depth to the 'Noles defensive front, and linebackers Justin Pugh and Delvin Purifoy have good potential.

    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.