7 Teams That Need a Strong 2014 College Football Recruiting Class
Every team needs a strong recruiting class, as stocking talent on an annual basis is a major component for success in college football. However, depending on the situation, several programs may face more pressure than others in a given recruiting cycle.
Some programs have coaches who are coaching and recruiting for their jobs in 2013. Others are coming off solid seasons and need to strike while the iron is hot. And there are always programs who need a strong class because their previous one was, well, weak.
A pair of programs who are moving to new conferences must continue adding good talent to be well prepared for their transitions. It is time for another program that changed conferences last year to begin to consistently land higher-quality talent. Also, another program saw its rival have a breakthrough class in 2013, so it must respond strongly in 2014.
Kansas belongs on this list because the Jayhawks lack talent. Head coach Charlie Weis quickly learned he was not at Notre Dame or Florida in 2012, as he only won one game in his opening season.
Weis brought in many JUCO prospects in his 2013 class who should immediately help Kansas. However, the Jayhawks still are behind the rest of the Big 12 when it comes to talent, speed and athleticism.
Weis will not sign a class full of superstars, but he must continue finding gems on the trail such as running back 4-star running back Traevohn Wrench.
Rutgers has increased its profile since the start of the century, and it is now scheduled to move to the Big Ten next fall. Moving from the American Athletic Conference to the Big Ten will prove to be a daunting task.
However, by loading up with strong recruiting classes, the Scarlet Knights' transition should be a smooth one. Head coach Kyle Flood seems to understand the message loud and clear, as he currently has the No. 19 recruiting class in the 247Sports recruiting rankings.
Although he signed a solid class, Mississippi State head coach Dan Mullen must have been fuming on national signing day in 2013.
Mullen saw his heated rival of Ole Miss steal the national headlines by bringing in an historic class. The Rebels are, once again, a hot program on the recruiting trail, as they have the No. 12 class in the 247Sports recruiting rankings.
Mullen absolutely must respond with a strong class of his own or be forced to watch his in-state rival widen the recruiting gap.
The Penn State Nittany Lions are playing with significant sanctions on their program, stemming from the Jerry Sandusky scandal.
Bill O'Brien and his staff pulled off one of the best recruiting jobs in history, as they signed a top-25 class, according to ESPNU. However, with scholarship reductions, Penn State will be playing with nearly 20 less scholarship players than most programs it faces.
So O'Brien and his staff must gobble up as much talent as they can to be competitive through the next several seasons. The 2013 class was a good start, but the Nittany Lions must bring in another strong class in 2014.
The TCU Horned Frogs got their ultimate wish last season, as they finally joined the Big 12. They are among the top programs in the league and are a favorite to win the conference title in 2013.
Head coach Gary Patterson is a bright leader who efficiently operates his program, but it is now time for him to become an elite recruiter.
Patterson and his staff need to begin to consistently land higher-ranked recruits and construct stronger recruiting classes that can rival conference foes Texas and Oklahoma.
Signing elite prospects, such as offensive lineman Braden Smith on a regular basis, will help TCU expand its recruiting profile.
The Louisville Cardinals could be primed for a huge 2013 season, as they have an easy schedule and quarterback Teddy Bridgewater is a Heisman Trophy candidate.
Louisville is a dark-horse contender to reach the BCS title game, plus it is still all smiles after beating Florida in the Sugar Bowl last season. Also, the Cardinals are moving to the ACC in 2014.
So head coach Charlie Strong and his assistants must strike while the iron is hot and while they have a national buzz. Based on how things look, that is exactly what they are doing, as Louisville's class is No. 23 in the 247Sports recruiting rankings.
The USC Trojans entered the 2012 season as a BCS title favorite, but finished with a disappointing 7-6 record. Head coach Lane Kiffin took much criticism, and he enters the 2013 season on the hot seat.
USC is no longer a bully on the recruiting trail, as it finds itself in more fierce recruiting battles for prospects. The Trojans experienced several decommitments during the 2013 recruiting cycle, and the perception of the program is no longer positive and glamorous.
USC also is still fighting to work through scholarship reductions, and any program especially in that kind of situation cannot afford to sign subpar recruiting classes.
For Kiffin and the Trojans to re-emerge, USC needs a strong season this fall, which will lead to it bringing in a strong class. If not, Kiffin will likely be fired, and USC will fall deeper into mediocrity—on the field and on the recruiting trail.