NCF On The Trail: Team signing day primer

Signing day primer: Penn State 

January, 23, 2013
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With two weeks left until signing day, NittanyNation takes a closer look at what fans should know about the state of the class and this Penn State team.

Team needs: Defensive coordinator John Butler made it clear he wasn't happy with the secondary's depth last season. At cornerback, untested true freshman Da'Quan Davis was the backup, and the safeties opened the year as the team's weakness.

That's not the only concern. With Matt McGloin's departure, Steven Bench is now the most experienced quarterback on the team. And he threw just eight passes last season. Linebacker is also a position that could use a few extra bodies, especially with Michael Mauti and Gerald Hodges making a run at the NFL.

Signing day primer: Texas A&M 

January, 23, 2013
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Team needs: There are three key need areas for Texas A&M in this recruiting class: defensive tackles, linebackers and receivers. The defensive tackle need stems from the Aggies' scheme switch. The 2010 and 2011 seasons were spent in a 3-4 alignment, and recruiting was tailored to that. Once Kevin Sumlin arrived and hired Mark Snyder as his defensive coordinator, the Aggies switched to a 4-3, meaning another defensive tackle on the field, meaning more were needed. At linebacker, the Aggies say goodbye to a pair of senior leaders, Sean Porter and Jonathan Stewart, both of whom were starters. The other starting linebacker, Steven Jenkins, will be a senior this season. At receiver there are several contributors leaving as well. Ryan Swope, Uzoma Nwachukwu and Kenric McNeal were all seniors. Thomas Johnson, a true freshman who appeared in 10 games and was one of the gems of the 2012 recruiting class, withdrew from school and might not return. There's another scholarship spot at the position in the form of Brandal Jackson, who was on scholarship but not part of the 105-man roster at the start of fall camp.

Help is on the way: At defensive tackle, A&M scored commitments from ESPN 150 defensive tackle Justin Manning and ESPN 300 defensive tackle Isaiah Golden. Three-star prospect Hardreck Walker and three-star Jordan Points (who is already on campus) round out that group. There are six linebackers in the class, led by ESPN 300 ILB Jordan Mastrogiovanni. Three are already on campus and enrolled: Brett Wade, Reggie Chevis and Tommy Sanders. At receiver, the Aggies have plenty. Ricky Seals-Jones tops the list, prep school standout Ja'Quay Williams is already in school, and there's a pair of three-star receivers as well. Not to mention, No. 1 tight end prospect Derrick Griffin would be a receiver at A&M if he makes it in, and athlete LaQuvionte Gonzalez likely would be an inside receiver.

Other key commits: A pair of Under Armour All-Americans, guard Joas Aguilar and cornerback Noel Ellis, plus a U.S. Army All-American, safety Kameron Miles, round out a group 10 prospects that are among ESPN's top 300. Two quarterbacks are in the class (Kohl Stewart and Kenny Hill), but it's worth keeping an eye on them as Stewart is a potential high MLB draft pick and Hill took official visits to Baylor and Kansas State. Eight early enrollees in the class are already on campus (Chevis, Points, Sanders, Wade, Williams, Cameron Clear, Alex Sezer and Jeremiah Stuckey), and there are plenty of promising three-star commits, including guys like cornerback Tavares Garner and outside linebacker Darian Claiborne.

Other key targets: There aren't a ton of targets left for the Aggies at this point. Their focus is on a small handful of guys. Adding a defensive end would be ideal for the Aggies, and they're pursuing Washington commit Daeshon Hall and USC commit Torrodney Prevot in that regard. Hall visited recently, and Prevot could soon. They are also still looking at another receiver. Former USC commit Sebastian LaRue is one of those targets, and he was in on an official visit recently. They are also looking at Florida State commit Levonte Whitfield, who said he plans to officially visit Feb. 1.

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Signing day primer: Ohio State 

January, 23, 2013
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Team needs: Ohio State needs a defensive front seven to jell quickly in 2013. The only returning starter from last year’s front seven is Ryan Shazier, and while he’s a great one, he needs some help.

[+] EnlargeEli Woodard
Scott Fink for ESPN.comFive-star cornerback Eli Apple is already enrolled at Ohio State.
The secondary is strong with every player returning, but the defensive line will be incredibly young this season. There’s also a need for a wide receiver. That’s more a numbers game, however.

Help is on the way: Urban Meyer hasn’t messed around in trying to fix the problem. His two-deep chart on defense last season included freshmen Adolphus Washington, Tommy Schutt, Connor Crowell, Camren Williams and Joshua Perry, and Crowell is leaving the program because of medical issues. This year, he has six defensive linemen coming in and another three linebackers.

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Signing day primer: Oregon 

January, 23, 2013
1/23/13
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With national signing day exactly two weeks from today, DuckNation looks ahead to what Oregon has coming and who the Ducks still need and why.


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Signing day primer: Florida 

January, 23, 2013
1/23/13
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- There are just a couple of short weeks remaining until national signing day, and the Florida Gators have met a majority of their recruiting needs. With graduation, transfers and players leaving for the NFL draft, there are a few areas Florida head coach Will Muschamp would still like to shore up.

Key holes to fill

The Gators lost key personnel along the offensive line, wide receiver, linebacker, running back and secondary and are hoping to replenish their talent with junior college transfers and incoming freshmen.

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Signing day primer: LSU 

January, 23, 2013
1/23/13
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BATON ROUGE, La. -- With national signing day two weeks away, LSU is close to the finish line, but the Tigers still have some big names they are after:

Team needs: LSU was decimated on the defensive line by graduation and early NFL draft entrees.

The Tigers will be without six of the nine defensive linemen who played the majority of the snaps, including three potential first-round NFL draft picks, led by lightning-quick speed-rushing end Barkevious Mingo.

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Signing day primer: Alabama 

January, 23, 2013
1/23/13
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A little behind on the recruiting trail? Worry not -- TideNation has you covered. To catch you up on where the Alabama recruiting class of 2013 stands, we'll take you through the high points, including how the coaching staff has addressed certain needs and set the team up for seasons to come.

Team needs: With three of five starting offensive linemen and two of three defensive lineman starters off to the NFL draft, Alabama was forced to focus on finding help in the trenches. Nick Saban and the rest of the UA coaching staff had success filling those needs with the 2013 class, particularly along the offensive line. The Crimson Tide secured the commitments of four offensive linemen, one coming by way of a junior college in New York. Leon Brown, who was ranked in the top 20 of all junior college prospects by ESPN, could find himself competing for the starting right tackle job vacated by D.J. Fluker.

Derrick Henry
Derek Tyson/ESPN.comDerrick Henry is the only five-star commitment Alabama has and can fit at a variety of position.
Help is on the way: Outside of the lines, Alabama was once again in search of talented athletes to continue bringing potency to an offense that's been on a steady rise the past few years. Amari Cooper and T.J. Yeldon were difference makers in 2012 and there could be one or two who do the same this year. Derrick Henry, the No. 1 athlete in the country and Alabama's lone five-star commitment, could be the biggest wild card of the class. At 6-foot-3 and 243 pounds, he's an option at tailback, H-back and possibly linebacker. He'll begin at running back, where he set a national career rushing yards record at Yulee High in Florida.

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Signing day primer: Georgia 

January, 23, 2013
1/23/13
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ATHENS, Ga. -- With national signing day exactly two weeks from today, DawgNation looks ahead to what Georgia has coming and who the Bulldogs still need, and why.

Team needs: Georgia has a number of holes to fill, considering the defense is losing 10 players who started last season. All-American junior Jarvis Jones and two-year leading tackler Alec Ogletree have declared for the NFL draft, which means the incoming prospects will have to be ready to play early.

Also, consider that Georgia only signed one player for the secondary, one wide receiver and not one inside linebacker in the class of 2012. Those positions are a priority. The secondary is in special need of attention as both starting safeties and two starting cornerbacks were seniors this past season. The Bulldogs have decent depth at the outside linebacker spots but the SEC championship game proved Georgia needs help on the defensive line. Junior nose Kwame Geathers has also opted to leave early for the NFL, so Georgia needs to sign some quality prospects to fill in the defensive trench.

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Signing day primer: Florida State 

January, 23, 2013
1/23/13
9:41
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Who is leaving: Florida State is losing three top-flight defensive ends to the NFL draft this season, led by draft-eligible junior Bjoern Werner. Senior Tank Carradine's stock would have been much higher if not for a late knee injury in the regular season finale against Florida. Brandon Jenkins, who was lost for most of the 2012 season because of a foot injury, will also be heading to the pros.

The offensive line only loses one player, junior Menelik Watson, but it is a big one. He's likely to go in the first couple of rounds and had a major impact for Florida State in just one season.

Xavier Rhodes is the lone corner departing, but it's also a big one. Aside from Rhodes, the secondary will return largely intact.


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Signing day primer: Michigan 

January, 23, 2013
1/23/13
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Commitments: 26
ESPN 150 commitments: 9


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Signing day primer: Texas

January, 23, 2013
1/23/13
9:36
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Team needs: Texas hit the recruiting trail this year seeking improved depth on the offensive line and at linebacker. Its line got almost no production from backups in 2012, and an inexperienced linebacker group started six players last season and endured struggles throughout. With only nine seniors in 2012, the Longhorns don’t have many other holes that need to be filled by this class of recruits. The most irreplaceable cogs are safety Kenny Vaccaro and defensive end Alex Okafor. Both are potential first-round NFL draft picks whose production will be tough to match.

Help is on the way: The offensive line questions have been answered. Texas is set to sign one of the nation’s best classes up front with five commits, including No. 1 center Darius James (Killeen, Texas/Harker Heights) and No. 4 tackle Kent Perkins (Dallas/Lake Highlands). Contra Costa (Calif.) College tackle Desmond Harrison joined the class this week. Texas also landed ESPN 300 outside linebacker Deoundrei Davis (Cypress, Texas/Cypress Woods), who enrolled early and should contribute as a freshman.

Other key commits: Two more early enrollees, ESPN 150 lineman Jake Raulerson (Celina, Texas/Celina) and Butte (Calif.) College tight end Geoff Swaim, should play right away. Texas also has pledges from ESPN 150 defensive tackle A’Shawn Robinson (Fort Worth, Texas/Arlington Heights), receiver Jacorey Warrick (Houston/Cypress Falls) and cornerback Antwuan Davis (Bastrop, Texas/Bastrop). The Longhorns will pair Warrick with Jake Oliver (Dallas/Jesuit), who broke the Texas state record for career receptions.

Other key targets: Holding on to Robinson is crucial. He has taken official visits to USC and Alabama and could make a late-second flip on signing day. With a pledge from Harrison, the biggest remaining priorities are finding another running back and wide receiver. ESPN 150 receiver Sebastian LaRue (Santa Monica, Calif./Santa Monica) and Ole Miss running back commit Peyton Barber (Alpharetta, Ga./Milton) could visit in January.

Signing day primer: Oklahoma 

January, 23, 2013
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Team needs: For the first time in a long time, the quarterback position is up for debate in 2013. With Landry Jones graduating, there isn’t a clear-cut favorite, although it appears Blake Bell has been pegged as the guy. As for the rest of the offense, the Sooners are in pretty good shape. If you’re looking for OU’s real issues, though, it’s on defense. OU knew it was losing cornerback Demontre Hurst and safety Javon Harris, but with safety Tony Jefferson opting to not come back for his senior season, OU doesn’t have either of its safeties returning for 2013. Linebacker became a sore spot for the program during the latter half of 2012, culminating in linebacker Tom Wort declaring for the NFL draft because the scheme isn’t really tailored for him.

Help is on the way: OU fans can debate whether Josh Heupel is the guy to run OU’s offense, but you cannot question his ability to recruit. Heupel has landed yet another top quarterback in ESPN 300 prospect Cody Thomas (Colleyville, Texas/Heritage, ranked No. 178). OU needs help in the secondary, and Mike Stoops attacked the position hard during the spring. Three-star safety Ahmad Thomas (Miami/Central) is enrolling early, and ESPN 300 safety Hatari Byrd (Fresno, Calif./Central East) said he is ready to replace Jefferson. Corner shouldn’t be hurting either with the pledge of ESPN 300 athlete Stanvon Taylor (Tulsa, Okla./East Central).

Other key commits: Cannot talk OU’s 2013 class without mentioning running back Keith Ford (Cypress, Texas/Ranch). Ranked No. 27 in the ESPN 150, Ford is the top-ranked recruit for OU’s class. OU is also getting help from the juco ranks with the commitment of four-star ESPN JC 100 offensive tackle Josiah St. John (Athens, Texas/Trinity Valley). Defensive end was locked up in April with two ESPN 300 commits in D.J. Ward (Moore, Okla./Southmoore) and Matt Dimon (Katy, Texas/Katy).

Other key targets: OU is still seeking help in the secondary and is looking at ESPN 300 athlete Adrian Baker (Hollywood, Fla./Chaminade-Madonna) and four-star cornerback L.J. Moore (Fresno, Calif./Central East). The Sooners are still keeping tabs on several offensive tackles after four-star tackle Aaron Cochran (Atwater, Calif./Buhach) committed to Cal earlier this week.

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Signing day primer: Washington 

January, 23, 2013
1/23/13
8:00
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Team needs: For the 2013 recruiting class, the Huskies tried to add talent throughout their roster. They had specific needs but wanted to bolster strengths as well.

Some of the key areas the Huskies identified as positions to pursue included receiver, running back, linebacker and defensive line. With six defensive linemen committed and three receivers heading to Seattle next season, Washington has stockpiled prospects at each position.

Help is on the way: Washington is pursuing a pass rush. The Huskies have a star in Danny Shelton, but ace recruiter Tosh Lupoi made it a point to bring in top-tier talent along the program’s defensive line.

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Signing day primer: USC 

January, 23, 2013
1/23/13
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Team needs: With all-conference cornerback Nickell Robey declaring for the NFL draft and the graduation of safeties T.J. McDonald, Jawanza Starling and Drew McAllister, adding depth in the secondary is a pressing need for the Trojans. Given Matt Barkley’s departure, it was imperative that USC sign another quarterback to pair with Max Wittek and Cody Kessler.

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