10 Teams Who Wish They Could Have Their 2011 Recruiting Class Now
Fall camp stirs up tremendous excitement as teams hit the practice field for the first time since April and May.
But camp also brings depressing news, things like torn ACLs, out of shape players, transfers, and the same lingering problems that caused the team trouble last year.
Recruiting classes are supposed to provide both immediate and long-term relief for last year's problems. This year's problems still have to wait a year before they can get fully covered on the trail.
But what if a team could bring in its 2011 recruiting class a year early? Which teams need the players they have signed up most?
I looked at 10 teams that could really use their 2011 recruiting classes now. See if you agree which athletic department would pay most for a time machine.
Nebraska's offensive line suffered a major setback when senior left tackle Mike Smith went down with a broken leg. Smith had started 14 games at left tackle and was expected to play guard or even center this year.
Nebraska's O-line recruiting class is top-three in the nation, with four-star commitments at guard (Ryan Klachko), center (Ryne Reeves) and tackle (Tyler Moore and Zach Sterup). Any anxieties about offensive line depth would go out the window if those kids were enrolled.
Not to mention Nebraska would provide some great depth and competition at the QB position with Jamal Turner and Bubba Starling pushing Zach Lee and Corey Green as true freshmen.
UCLA is another team dealing with devastating offensive line issues while sitting on a 2011 recruiting class loaded with O-line depth.
The Bruins have lost Stan Hasiak and Jeff Baca to academics, Xavier Sua-Filo to Mormon mission and Mike Harris to a one-game suspension after he violated team rules. Replacement Sean Sheller is a converted defensive tackle, and Micah Kia missed all of 2009 after suffering a knee injury in fall camp.
Meanwhile, four of UCLA's current seven commitments are linemen: guards Jake Brendel and Ben Wysocki and tackles Marc Mustoe and Torrian White.
While true freshmen are no guarantee to be ready, they're likely an improvement over converted defensive linemen, banged-up starters and whatever crushed-graham-cracker-and-rubber-cement-type of fix Rick Neuheisel is dreaming up right now.
Washington lost highly-touted running back Deontae Cooper to an ACL tear early in preseason camp.
Though their running back depth is far from catastrophic, Cooper was receiving positive reviews for his versatility and pass-catching, and could have contended for freshman all-conference honors.
The Huskies have another dynamic running back (almost) committed to the 2011 class. RB Brendon Bigelow is considered the No. 26 player in the class. And though he too is nursing an ACL injury from his junior year, is expected to make a complete comeback.
Other likely freshman contributors: wide receiver Aubrey Coleman, the No. 24 receiver in the class; and Elijaa Penny, a taller, sturdier back who could play many different roles in Washington's offense.
Four verbals in Tennessee's 2011 class stand out as early contributors if they could only get to campus a year sooner.
Tackles Kyler Kerbyson and Alan Posey and center Mack Crowder would alleviate the shoestring depth of Tennessee's offensive line, which was recently compared to a brick wall missing eight of its bricks.
Joining them would be four-star safety commitment Pat Martin, who verballed to the Vols on Sunday. Eric Berry he may not be, but Martin brings a hard-hitting, workman-like attitude to the safety position and could have the kind of freshman season Janzen Jackson had as a true freshman if he could only enroll this year.
Other would-be contributors: QB Justin Worley, RB/FB Tom Smith, and DB Justin Coleman.
The Wolverines suffered yet another transfer when touted redshirt freshman cornerback Justin Turner was granted his release from Michigan just two days into summer camp.
Waiting in the 2011 class are two guys who could provide some depth if they could only enroll now: four-star Detroit, MI corner Delonte Hollowell and three-star speedster Greg Brown, who will enroll early.
Michigan's cornerback depth entering 2010 is razor thin. Past starters Troy Woolfolk and J.T. Floyd, the Wolverines are counting on converted receiver James Rogers and true freshmen Cullen Christian, Courtney Avery and Terry Talbott, 2010 signees.
The Wolverines' defense must improve if Rodriguez is to survive this make-or-break year.
Other would-be contributors: Brennan Beyer, a four-star end/linebacker out of Canton, MI; and Kellen Jones, a speedy, hard-hitting linebacker out of Texas.
Hot off the presses, the Seminoles have now lost three likely contributors in fall camp: DT Moses McCray (ACL), RB Tavarres Pressley (ACL) and CB Dionte Cooper (transfer).
Verbals from their 2011 class would help out any potential depth problems at each position.
At defensive tackle, Nile Lawrence-Stample (6'1", 299 lbs) is a four-star who could line up at nose, while three-star Derrick Mitchell (6'5", 285 lbs, 4.8 40) would play pass-rushing tackle.
At defensive back, safety Karlos Williams would protect any liabilities from Florida State's young corners. The four-star safety is Rivals' No.1 prospect at the position.
At running back, the Noles already have fringe four-star Eric Beverly in the fold, and I fully expect five-star athlete/RB James Wilder to commit to them later this week.
If only they were on campus now...
Georgia's QB situation is settled for now, but that doesn't mean it's perfect.
Aaron Murray impressed at a recent scrimmage and seems to have taken hold of the starting job. Behind him there is reason to worry. QB Logan Gray hasn't quite dropped the athlete tag to some onlookers, and past him, the Dawgs would have to dip into walk-ons.
The situation would look a lot better if QB Christian LeMay were already on campus. The four-star recruit is one of the most technically sound and mentally prepared QBs in the class. He's already planning to be an early enrollee, but having him now would be the most ideal.
Other would-be contributors: DE Sterling Bailey, WR Justin Scott-Wesley, DBs Corey Moore and Nick Marshall.
UNC is dealing with a few issues that their 2011 class could theoretically solve.
One is a suspect offensive line, one that kept the Tar Heels at third-to-last in passing and scoring offense and tied for 70th in sacks allowed.
Meanwhile their 2011 class is star-studded on the offensive line, with three great tackle commitments (Kiaro Holts, Jamar Lewter and Landon Turner) and an above-average guard (Jarrod James), each of whom could push for playing time as true freshmen.
Another area of immediate help would be at running back. True freshman Giovanni Bernard went down with an ACL tear early in camp. And though UNC has no less than three scholarship seniors providing depth at tailback, I could see recent commit Romar Morris getting reps as an all-purpose back.
Other would-be contributors: QB/ATH Everett Golson, ATH TJ Thorpe, TE Eric Ebron.
Any time a team undergoes a coaching transition, there will be some players that get lost in translation.
As a Michigan fan, I've seen just how poorly certain players fit in certain systems. And while I think Brian Kelly's system is more pragmatic than Rich Rodriguez's in terms of versatility, the transition won't be entirely complete until Kelly's recruits are in.
So it's too bad players like Justice Hayes and Ben Koyack have to wait a year before they can show their stuff in Kelly's system. Both are ideal pass-catchers who will be amazingly productive as soon as they hit South Bend.
Not to mention the requisite help this class will already bring on defense. Safety Eilar Hardy and defensive end Aaron Lynch will be great fits in ND's new 3-4 scheme, and the Notre Dame defense, though likely to improve, still needs all the help it can get.
Other would-be contributors: LB Jarrett Grace, DE Anthony Rabasa, OG Conor Hanratty.
Texas would love to have their 2011 recruiting class enroll now...not because they desperately need any players like these other teams, but because they would absolutely dominate the country if they were able to get these recruits on campus.
The Longhorns' recruiting class is nearly complete and, to many, is considered to have an untouchable grip on the number one spot. Yes, defections are possible, yes, Alabama and Ohio State are close behind...but this is Texas.
Do you think Mack Brown and Will Muschamp have slept well since getting to the national championship and losing? If so, you have never comprehended the vast medicine cabinet of the average college coach.
Returning to the national championship as expediently as possible is priority number one in Austin. By the time this class enrolls next year, a return will be within range.