Building a tough defense is critical in today's game, and programs have to focus on signing great defensive prospects to assure they can stop potent offenses.
Each team knows how it wants to structure a recruiting class, as some prefer to bring in more offensive talent. However, several programs are using the 2014 recruiting cycle to focus on the defensive side of the ball.
An SEC team with a great offensive scheme is upgrading its defensive depth charts. A Pac-12 team is bringing in defenders who can stop the great passing offenses in its conference, plus a Big 12 program is finally focusing on recruits who can keep teams from reaching the end zone.
Head coach Todd Graham is a defensive-minded leader who knows the Pac-12 has some of the best offensive schemes in the country.
From playing pro-style USC, to power-running Stanford and then facing the task of stopping Oregon's up-tempo spread offense, the Sun Devils will need great defensive players if they want to compete out west.
Graham has a 13-man class, with nine commitments from defensive prospects. Defensive back has been the specific focus, as the secondary has five pledges.
However, Connor Humphreys, a 4-star defensive end from Portland, is the top defender in the class.
The Spartans have to field a good defense on an annual basis since they play in the rugged Big Ten. Based on their 2014 recruiting class, they should have no issues with depth on the defensive side of the ball for several seasons.
Michigan State has 14 commitments and nine could play defense in East Lansing. Vayante Copeland is a 3-star prospect who can play running back, but do not be shocked if he is moved to cornerback.
Defensive tackle Enoch Smith, a 3-star recruit, has the strength to be good starter in the defensive trenches. Also, 3-star linebacker Deon Drake and 3-star safety/outside linebacker Byron Bullough are underrated prospects who will make plays for the Spartans.
The Yellow Jackets are not going to bring in elite recruiting classes, nor will many 5-star prospects seriously consider playing in Atlanta.
However, they sign tough football players who are versatile and play with great motors. Georgia Tech has 15 players committed, and nine are on the defensive side of the ball.
Athlete Lane Austin is a 3-star recruit who could play in the secondary, so the total number of defensive pledges could increase for head coach Paul Johnson.
3-star cornerback Stepheny Durham, a Florida product, is the top defensive player in the group. However, keep an eye on 3-star linebacker Tre Jackson. The 5'10", 232-pound linebacker is great versus the run.
Oklahoma State is the epitome of a Big 12 program. It runs a high-scoring spread offense, but lacks a great defensive reputation.
The Pokes are trying to change that, as 11 of their 19 commitments are defensive recruits, per Scout.com.
Gyasi Akem is a 4-star linebacker who stands at 6'2" and 211 pounds. Defensive tackle Joyan Williams is used to playing in big games, as the 3-star recruit plays for powerhouse Edna Karr in New Orleans.
Also, 4-star cornerback Chris Hardeman could help the secondary immediately in Stillwater.
Florida State has 24 commitments, but the Seminoles are focusing more on defense with their class. FSU has 14 commitments from defensive players, according to Scout.com.
Linebacker Kain Daub is a 4-star recruit listed at 6'3" and 234 pounds. He is outstanding against running plays, as he has the strength to strike blockers, shed and make thumping hits inside the box.
The defensive line has six commitments, as it is led by 4-star defensive tackles Demarcus Christmas and Dexter Wideman. The secondary class features 4-star prospect Trey Marshall, but 4-star athlete Treon Harris could be a great cornerback.
Head coach Kevin Sumlin has a spread offense that runs like clockwork, so Texas A&M will be playing with the lead in most of its games.
The Aggies must make sure they have defensive players who can help keep leads and attack opposing offenses. With a 14-man class led by 4-star linebacker Hoza Scott and 4-star defensive back Nick Harvey, they are moving in the right direction.
Stanford's power-rushing attack gets most of the attention, but the Cardinal's 3-4 defense is also a huge reason for its success.
David Shaw is a former offensive coordinator, but the Stanford alum is not overlooking the defensive units as head coach. Shaw has 15 commitments and 10 are defensive players, as reported by Scout.com.
Brandon Simmons, a 4-star Texan, is a 6'0", 175-pound safety who leads the defensive class. Alijah Holder is a 3-star cornerback who stands at nearly 6'1", and 3-star defensive end Harrison Phillips is a great fit for Stanford's scheme.