Recruiting 2012 - Sun Belt Needs & Concerns
Posted Jan 30, 2012

What does each Sun Belt team need, and what are the concerns this offseason?

Recruiting 2012 

Sun Belt Recruiting Needs

Recruiting 2011 | Recruiting 2010 | Recruiting 2009

CFN Top Prospects for 2012
- No. 1 to 50 | No. 51 to 100 | No. 101 to 150
- No. 151 to 200No. 201 to 250 | No. 251 to 300
- Quarterbacks | Running Backs | Receivers
- Tight Ends | Off. Tackles | Guards & Centers 
- Def. Ends | Def. Tackles | Linebackers | Corners | Safeties 


1. Troy | Scout List

What’s Needed Now: The Trojans came up with the Sun Belt’s best recruiting class last season and is scheduled to bring in another whopper. The defensive line has been worked on over the few seasons, and now it should be about the skill spots with several running back prospects ready to come in to beef things up after all the top running options are scheduled to be gone after next year.

Team Concerns For 2012: Linebackers, and that’s going to be the biggest focus of the class. The kicking game needs instant help with PK Michael Taylor and P Will Goggans gone, meaning JUCO transfer Will Scott will be asked to battle for the punting job right away and Ryan Key will get a shot for the placekicking gig. The linebacking corps has a few good players returning, but the D will mine the JUCO ranks for a slew of speedy options to upgrade the unit.


The 2011 Class Was Heavy On …
Defensive ends. Enough of that … Larry Blakeney and the coaching staff appear to be sick of having a poor defense. Last year’s class was the best in the Sun Belt by far, and this year’s class could be even better, at least on the defensive front. With fantastic gets in JUCO transfer Tony Gillsepie, a 6-2, 315-pounder who’ll be planted in the middle of the line right away, and speed-rushing JUCO end Marty Stadom for the outside. JUCO transfer safety Brynden Trawick is a 6-2, 210-pound hitter who’ll be the immediate Sherriff of the secondary. 6-7, 200-pound Dallas Tidwell will be an interesting quarterback to develop for well down the road.

2010 CFN Recruiting Ranking: 79. That Class Was Heavy On ... Greg Jenkins to Brett Moncrief. The Trojans are now known for their high-powered offense and huge passing numbers, and they got a couple of stars to keep the production rolling. Greg Jenkins is an athletic JUCO transfer with the ability to step in and take over Levi Brown's old starting spot right away. Adding to the receiver talent is Brett Moncrief, a 6-3, 205-pound JUCO transfer who looks the NFL part. He could've gone to Ole Miss or Mississippi State, but chose Troy. On defense, the recent struggles in the secondary were addressed with seven corners signed including Dionte Ponder, a ready-made playmaker with big-time upside.

2009 CFN Recruiting Ranking: 85. That Class Was Heavy On ... Ready made defensive linemen. The Trojans had the Sun Belt’s best offensive line last year by far, but three starters are gone. While there’s depth and potential with the returning players, this class made sure the front five is loaded with four JUCO transfers, led by tackle Tyler Graves. The defensive side got some fantastic tackle prospects with JUCO transfer Riley Flowers good enough to play just about anywhere.

2. Western Kentucky | Scout List

2012: What’s Needed Now: Head coach Willie Taggert is paving the road for down the road with the lines. The offensive line is about to get an important infusion to build for 2014 and beyond. The line might not be a need right now, but it’s going to get the most key players with some huge, HUGE bodies ready to blast away for the interior.

Team Concerns For 2012: Bobby Rainey. The Hilltoppers are losing their heart-and-soul running back who carried the offense time and time again. Losing left tackle Wes Jeffries is also a concern, but that’s about it. Those are the only two seniors gone from the offense, and that includes the backups. Placekicker Casey Tinius is gone, meaning Jesse Roy from last year’s class has to prove he’s ready to be the main man.


The 2011 Class Was Heavy On … Defensive backs. Quality, not quantity. The Hilltoppers didn’t get many defensive backs, but they got some strong players to lock down the secondary right away. Champ Lewis is a tall, talented safety who blew off Maryland, South Florida, Vanderbilt, Kentucky, and other mid-level BCS programs, and made Iowa State mad. Corner Eric Robinson-Berry committed to Louisville, ending others from going after him, and then decommitted to go to WKU. Quartterrio Morgan isn’t another Bobby Rainey, but he’s a quick, talented back for head coach Willie Taggart to make into a star.

2010 CFN Recruiting Ranking: 118. That Class Was Heavy On ... Quarterbacks. There are so many players brought in last season that there wasn't a ton of room for too many new players, but new head coach Willie Taggart wanted to upgrade the offense as soon as possible and he was able to sign JUCO bomber Matthias Pelesasa and all-around playmaker Brandon Doughty to give the team more options. WR Joel German could be a No. 1 target right away.

2009 CFN Recruiting Ranking: 84. That Class Was Heavy On ... Bulk. There’s a little of something for every spot with no one spot getting the complete and total focus. The team was awful last season with a tough mix of seniors and unproven young players, and this class is built to be a foundation for the next several years. The skill position players are the stars of the show with QB Courtney Dalcourt, RB Keshawn Simpson, and WR Jamarielle Brown all going to be fixtures by 2012.

3. Louisiana-Lafayette | Scout List

What’s Needed Now: Receiver. The offensive line got a slew of prospects last year, but head coach Mark Hudspeth is still going after more options, especially for the inside. The receiving corps is fine for next season, but it needs more options to battle it out for starting jobs in 2013 and beyond. This haul won’t have any one star target who’s an obvious No. 1, but it’ll be a strength in numbers class.

Team Concerns For 2012: Defensive line. The offense will be the star of the show again even with TE Ladarius Green and three starters gone, and it’ll have to be early on with Tyrell Gaddies and the entire defensive front, and a few backups, done. The 2009 recruiting class loaded up with players for the line, and now it’s time for Brandon McCray and others to come through.


The 2011 Class Was Heavy On …
Offensive linemen. New head man Mark Hudspeth loaded up with lots and lots of bodies. RB Montrel Carter is the team’s best recruit, while Alonzo Harris is one of the nation’s top fullback prospects. There aren’t many stars for the offensive front, but JUCO transfer Brandon Bender should be part of the mix right away and guard prospect Jaylen Hunter and tackle Frederick Moore have decent potential. The secondary got plenty of help at corner, especially with speedster Dexter Aucoin.

2010 CFN Recruiting Ranking: 103. That Class Was Heavy On ... Bodies. Lots of bodies. A class of 24 players might might not seem like that much, but the coaching staff brought in a lot of key prospects for a lot of positions, most notably at running back where Aaron Spikes should be the new Ragin' Cajun rushing star. The secondary got the most attention with four decent safeties and two speedy corners, while the star of the class should be JUCO LB Bernard Smith, who could be the team's leading tackler this year.

2009 CFN Recruiting Ranking: 119. That Class Was Heavy On ... Defensive line. The receiving corps is also a strength, but the stars are on the defensive front with two JUCO transfers, Tyrell Gaddies for the middle and Jordan Topp for inside or out. Two of the team’s best recruits are for the future with Brandon McCray a top tackle and Justin Anderson an interesting tweener who could end up at linebacker or in a hybrid role.

4. Arkansas State | Scout List

2012: What’s Needed Now: Skill players. Last year’s class focused mostly on the offensive backfield, and the transfer of Auburn’s Michael Dyer will eventually give new head coach Gus Malzahn a star to work around, but this year’s class is about to be loaded with running backs. Quarterback is the concern going into 2013, and this year’s class will bring options.

Team Concerns For 2012: The Red Wolves need defensive linemen. The front four loses three starters and several key backup options, while the secondary also needs help after losing three starters and three quality reserves. The 2010 class worked on bringing in defensive linemen, and some patching will have to be quickly done.


The 2011 Class Was Heavy On … The offensive backfield. The defensive front got the most help last year and the receiving corps of 2009 should come into its own this year, and now the skill players are in place for the backfield of the near future. Speedy RB Artez Brown is the gem of the class, but Quintin Sparkmon has nice potential. Quarterbacks Darion Griswold and J.D. McKissic are totally different prospects. The 6-5, 240-pound Griswold is the passer, the 5-8, 170-pound McKissic is the runner.

2010 CFN Recruiting Ranking: 106. That Class Was Heavy On ... Defensive linemen. While the offense got a lot of help, especially at running back with the instant help from JUCO transfer Dwayne Frampton and his sub-4.4 speed, but the defense will get the most immediate upgrade with two fantastic linebacker prospects in Quashaun Lee and JUCO transfer Michael Lombardo and four strong defensive linemen. JUCO transfers Blake Chavis and Brandon Joiner each likely to start or at least be major factors in the end rotation.

2009 CFN Recruiting Ranking: 116. That Class Was Heavy On ... Receivers. QB Phillip Butterfield is the star of the show here, and he’ll have plenty of targets to work with including Carlos McCants, a smallish, quick receiver who should be a number one target at some point. JUCO transfer Lucious Henderson is for right now. The defense was almost completely ignored.  

5. FIU | Scout List

2012: What’s Needed Now: Receivers. Everything should be fine for this year, even with T.Y. Hilton gone, but the Golden Panthers need offensive pop after mostly focusing on the defensive side for the last few seasons. This class will be loaded with receiver options, but the defense isn’t going to be ignored with outside linebacker getting plenty of new bodies.

Team Concerns For 2012: Offensive stars. QB Wesley Carroll split time and Jake Medlock is ready, but the attack needs more big plays from somewhere with Hilton gone and Darriet Perry needing to be replaced at running back. The defense gets EVERYONE back, with years of loading up with prospects about to pay off.


The 2011 Class Was Heavy On … Defense. How did Mario Cristobal capitalize on the best season in FIU history? He brought in a big, solid class with two interesting quarterback prospects in Loranzo Hammonds and Dylan Warner, several receivers, and a great-looking guard in Derrick Thorpe. The D got the stars, though, with Lyndon Edwards and Demetrius Allen two safety-sized linebackers who could be terrific after hitting the weights. Corners Corey Tindal and T.J. Lowder might not be huge, but they can move. JUCO transfers Jordan Hunt at linebacker and Tevin Blanchard at safety will play right away.

2010 CFN Recruiting Ranking: 89. That Class Was Heavy On ... Willis Wright. In a major "huh?" moment, Wright, a very strong, very fast safety prospect who could become a whale of a wide receiver or two-way player, signed with FIU despite receiving offers from Auburn, Miami, Ole Miss, Nebraska, and several other BCS schools. He's the star of a really nice group of defensive players brought in with a special emphasis on the defensive front. Seven defensive linemen were signed including Jordan White, a 320-pound tackle.

2009 CFN Recruiting Ranking: 98. That Class Was Heavy On ... Defensive back. This was a decent class all the way around, but the major focus was on stopping the pass with some good defensive ends in Joshua Forney and Thatcher Starling, and several defensive backs with decent speed, and surprisingly, a lot of size. Terrance Taylor was a nice pickup at safety while Wayne Times is a good-looking corner prospect.

6. North Texas | Scout List

What’s Needed Now: The defensive front. Dan McCarney is a defensive coach by nature, and while his group made strides last year, now he wants to improve for the next few years especially at tackle. This will be a class based on variety with a sprinkling of bodies for all spots except for linebacker, which will be the focus in 2013.

Team Concerns For 2012: The secondary needs to replace three starters, but former head coach Todd Dodge saw this coming and brought in loads of defensive backs over the last few classes. The JUCO ranks were hit hard a few years ago, and those players are gone meaning last year’s class has to play a big role. Finding a running back to take over for Lance Dunbar, who carried the offense, is a must.


The 2011 Class Is Heavy On …
Defensive backs. Dan McCarney likes linemen and wants to load up on the offensive front, but with little time to work, he didn’t do much of anything for the lines. There’s no star power whatsoever in this group, and for the second straight season the program has gone strongest in the secondary with corner Freddie Warner the best of the bunch and Kerry Swarn a long, tall safety with good upside. There isn’t much immediate help from the JUCO ranks.

2010 CFN Recruiting Ranking: 117. That Class Was Heavy On ... Defensive backs. North Texas hasn't played defense in several years, and while the team is still growing and still needs big seasons out of previous classes, head coach Todd Dodge is looking for a big impact from the JUCO ranks with safeties Jamison Hughes and Ryan Dowling and corners Steven Ford, D'Leon McCord and DeAndre Wood to all see time immediately.

2009 CFN Recruiting Ranking: 118. That Class Was Heavy On ... Receivers. If you’re going to run the offense head coach Todd Dodge wants to run, you need targets. The Mean Green passing game got an influx of receivers with two JUCO transfers for right now in Jamaal Jackson and Mike Outlaw, while freshman Daniel Mayberry might be the most talented of the lot.

7.Middle Tennessee | Scout List

2012: What’s Needed Now: Receivers. The Blue Raiders haven’t been shy about going after skill players over the last few classes, and last year was about beefing up the lines, but the offense needs more pop for the near future. There’s no receiver depth to count on going into the year, so the JUCO route might be important to help out right away.

Team Concerns For 2012: Defensive back is the biggest issue with all four starters gone. After going JUCO for some instant impact players over the last few years, it would be nice to find a shutdown corner to rely on. Linebacker is also a must to work on. There are some nice prospects waiting in the wings, and they’ll need to step up and shine right away with Darin Davis and Gorby Loreus gone.


The 2011 Class Was Heavy On … Offensive linemen. After getting a bit of instant help from the JUCO ranks and the skill players over the last few seasons, the coaching staff is forming more of a foundation for the offensive front with a few solid prospects with 6-4, 300-pound JUCO transfer Micah James ready to step in and start tomorrow. J.D. Jones is a good, big center prospect who could play guard, and Darius Johnson will be a decent tackle once he hits the weight room.

2010 CFN Recruiting Ranking: 105. That Class Was Heavy On ... Key JUCO transfers. This was a good MTSU team last year and it should be in the mix for the Sun Belt title this season, but to get over the hump and win the championship it needed a few more pieces to the puzzle. In come five JUCO transfers to provide help for the depth chart with Logan Kilgore likely to be the No. 2 QB behind Dwight Dasher, Jamar Brown and Jared Bamber sure to be key targets in the passing game, and Arness Ikner a shut-down corner who needs to see time right away.

2009 CFN Recruiting Ranking: 99. That Class Was Heavy On ... Skill players. There’s a sprinkling of new recruits here and there, but the stars are at the skills with QB Jamal Ramsey one of the league’s best prospects and running backs David Jones and William Pratcher each good enough to change around the woeful running game. The receivers have size and speed, but they’re extremely unpolished.

8. ULM | Scout List

2012: What’s Needed Now: Defensive back. The Warhawks will be going after a huge class with a little something for everyone, but the secondary will get the most attention with a slew of safeties coming in for the 3-3-5 alignment. There’s no need to go after anyone for the offensive backfield with the shelves stocked for a few years, but a few receivers will come in to provide more options for Todd Berry’s four and five-wide sets.

Team Concerns For 2012: Defensive end. The D needs a slew of new players to come in at linebacker and corner, but the defensive line needs more prospects with Troy Evans and Ken Dorsey two of the big ends who’ll be sorely missed. The offensive line is set for a while, but more tackles to develop for down the road will be important.


The 2011 Class Was Heavy On … The passing game. Head coach Todd Berry didn’t need to do much at receiver last year after the previous regime loaded up in 2009, but he went long this year with several solid targets. Earnest Carrington is a tall, promising quarterback, but he could be pushed in a few years by Brayle Brown, a mobile passer with a little bit of upside.

2010 CFN Recruiting Ranking: 111. That Class Was Heavy On ... Linemen. The biggest instant impact should be in the secondary with JUCO transfers Montavious Hill and Dan Jackson brought in to be in the starting mix right away, but the Warhawks loaded up on the lines. Six defensive ends, two centers, two guards, and four offensive tackles make it a strength-in-numbers class, but OT Jon Fisher is a good one who should be the star of the bunch.

2009 CFN Recruiting Ranking: 80. That Class Was Heavy On ... Wide receivers. This is a huge class with the major emphasis on the offense, and most specifically, the receivers. With seven prospects coming in over various shapes and sizes. JUCO transfer Cordario Calvin will be expected to play right away, but Tristan Warren might be the best of the lot, and Otis Peterson and Tavarese Maye will battle it out for who’ll be the fastest.

9. Florida Atlantic | Scout List

2012: What’s Needed Now: It’s Carl Pelini taking over the head coaching job, so the defense is going to be a primary focus with the secondary a major need and outside linebacker needing to be addressed. However, the offense was miserable last year and needs an upgrade in talent level. The quarterbacks came in a few years ago, with Stephan Curtis soon to be a factor, but playmakers across the offensive board will be used.

Team Concerns For 2012: Offense, offense, offense. There’s enough returning talent to hope for a far better season, but after last year’s disaster the attack has a long way to go to be merely decent. Running back is the biggest problem with Alfred Morris and Willie Floyd gone; Pelini could go the JUCO route to help things right away.


The 2011 Class Was Heavy On … Outside linebacker. This is yet another soft recruiting class as Howard Schnellenberger didn’t load up on too many strong prospects from around the area. As always, everyone is local, but the only player of note is undersized linebacker Damian Parms, who isn’t big, but can stick. The receiving corps gets a little help with William Dukes and Hakeem Ishmar two big, promising targets.

2010 CFN Recruiting Ranking: 119. That Class Was Heavy On ... Quarterbacks. It wasn't exactly the old Howard Schnellenberger wall around Miami to get the top talent from the area. A class that lacked star power also lacked any one area of beefing up, but there were two decent quarterback prospects to build on for the next few years with 6-3, 210-pound Nick Bracewell and strong-armed Stephen Curtis to battle it out to be the future of the program. Bracewell is the better of the two.

2009 CFN Recruiting Ranking: 101. That Class Was Heavy On ... Cornerback. By far the best prospects of this year’s class are in the secondary where De’Andre Richardson and Keith Reaser are two really fast, really good corners who should be fixtures in the FAU defensive backfield for years. Winfred Strickland and Treon Howard aren’t as fast or as good, but they should provide decent depth down the road.

NR. South Alabama (6-4)

2012: What’s Needed Now: Offensive line. The Jaguars are going to have to build from the inside out with the line depth gone thanks to graduation. This year’s class will go big on guard and center, while the secondary will get some instant help from the JUCO ranks. Corner options are going to be a must, and this class should bring them.

Team Concerns For 2012: The defense should be terrific with most of the key parts back from a great FCS unit, but the offense needs to work on the line and tight end is a big concern with both Kevin Helms and Paul Bennett gone. Overall, the team needs more veteran depth, but that will only come with time.