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Recruiting 2012 - Sun Belt Team Rankings

CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Feb 4, 2012


Ranking and analyzing the 2012 Sun Belt Recruiting Classes

Recruiting 2012 

Sun Belt Recruiting Rankings

Recruiting 2012
 
CFN 2012 Recruiting Rankings & All-Star Teams
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Recruiting Team


QB – Brooks Haack, Louisiana-Lafayette
RB – Andre Allen, Troy
RB – Anthony Wales, Western Kentucky
WR – Brandon Brooks, Troy
WR – DeAndre Jasper, FIU
TE – Paul Kyles, South Alabama
OT – Jemar Clark, Troy
OG – Steven Foster, South Alabama
C – Clay Machen, South Alabama
OG – Curtis Williams, Western Kentucky
OT – Alex Jauregui, Middle Tennessee
PK – Chris Ayers, FIU

DE – Byran Attaway, FIU
DT – Darrian Dyson, FIU
DT – Tyrone Pearson, WKU
DE – Shalom Ogbonda, Florida Atlantic
OLB – Paul Jean, FIU
MLB – Austin Moss, ULM
OLB – Jamie Willis, FIU
CB – Chris Humes, Arkansas State
S – Lenzy Pipkins, ULM
S – Anfornee Stewart, Middle Tenn.
CB – Marquis Walker, Arkansas State
P – Will Scott, Troy

1. Arkansas State | The Entire 2012 Recruiting Class  

The 2012 Class Was Heavy On... 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.

Looking Ahead To The 2012 Season: Rarely does a program get a rent-a-coach like Hugh Freeze, lose him, and improve with the next hire, but that might be what happens with Gus Malzahn taking over and former Auburn star Michael Dyer – who hasn’t been cleared yet for this year - transferring. Malzahn has a star quarterback to work with right away in Ryan Aplin, and the receiving corps is loaded with Josh Jarboe, Taylor Stockemer, and Allen Muse making up for the loss of Dwayne Frampton. Three starters are gone off the line, but the running game should be a bit better. Can the pass rush still be among the best in the nation with Brandon Joiner and three starters gone off the line? Eight starters are gone off the D.

2. FIU | The Entire 2012 Recruiting Class

The 2012 Class Was Heavy On... 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.

Looking Ahead To The 2012 Season: After a second straight excellent season, can Mario Cristobal keep the production going? With four starters back on one of the Sun Belt’s best offensive lines, the foundation is there for a running game that should be excellent with Kedrick Rhodes and Jeremiah Harden pounding away. Jake Medlock is ready to take over the starting quarterback job full time, and he has a nice receiving corps to work with. However, playmaker T.Y. Hilton is done meaning the O has to find explosion from somewhere. The league’s best scoring defense gets everyone back. Everyone. All 11 starters return to a D that was 30th in the nation in yards allowed and 14th in scoring defense.

3. Louisiana-Lafayette | The Entire 2012 Recruiting Class  

The 2012 Class Was Heavy On... 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.

Looking Ahead To The 2012 Season: One of the biggest surprises of 2011, the Ragin’ Cajuns should come back even stronger. Star pass catching tight end Ladarius Green is done, but QB Blaine Gautier, top back Alonzo Harris, terrific WR Javone Lawson, and nine starters overall are back to the Sun Belt’s No. 2 scoring attack. The defense has a ton of work to do losing three starters up front and five in the back eight. New Orleans Bowl star Brett Baer is back as both the punter and kicker – and should rock at both spots.

4. Troy | The Entire 2012 Recruiting Class  

The 2012 Class Was Heavy On... 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.

Looking Ahead To The 2012 Season: A major disappointment, the Trojans couldn’t seen to do much of anything right but throw the ball. QB Corey Robinson will put up huge numbers with all his receivers returning, but he loses LT James Brown, his top pass protector. Nine starters are back on an offense that should lead the Sun Belt in yards, but can the defense stop someone for the first time in years? Losing pass rushing end Jonathan Massaquoi hurts a line that had a hard time getting into the backfield. Five starters are gone from a D that couldn’t afford to lose too much experience. 

5. North Texas | The Entire 2012 Recruiting Class  

The 2012 Class Was Heavy On... 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.

Looking Ahead To The 2012 Season: Dan McCarney is one of the Sun Belt’s better coaches, and he showed why by starting to revive the program last year. He’ll have to go on without RB Lance Dunbar to work everything around, and little-used reserve Brandin Byrd has to prove he can handle the work. Derek Thompson is a big passer who should be better with a decent receiving corps returning. The defense made a little bit of improvement, and it should make great strides up front with six starters back in the front seven. However, all four starters are gone from the secondary. 

6. ULM | The Entire 2012 Recruiting Class  

The 2012 Class Was Heavy On... 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.

Looking Ahead To The 2012 Season: The league’s best run defense loses two key starters – Ken Dorsey and Troy Evans – up front, and leading tackler Jason Edwards and top safety Darius Prelow are gone. Both corners – Nate Brown and Tim Taylor – have to be replaced, too. The offense needs to be more explosive, and that starts with more production up front with three starters back including sophomores-to-be Joseph Treadwell and Ben Risenhoover on the left side. QB Kolton Browning is a playmaker, and he has a good group to help with leading rusher Jyruss Edwards back along with top target Brent Leonard. 

7. Florida Atlantic | The Entire 2012 Recruiting Class  

The 2012 Class Was Heavy On... 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.

Looking Ahead To The 2012 Season: The Owls have to find an offense right away under new head Carl Pelini, and it starts with getting more from QB Graham Wilbert. The O line gets three starters back and the top receivers return for a passing game that was the least efficient in America. Alfred Morris was the offense, and now the attack has to find a running back to work around. The defense should be better under the new coaching staff, and while end Kevin Cyrille is gone, ten starters return. 

8. South Alabama | The Entire 2012 Recruiting Class  

The 2012 Class Was Heavy On... 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.

Looking Ahead To The 2012 Season: The Jaguars enter the Sun Belt with a good-looking veteran team coming off a decent year. They battled well in a loss to NC State and lost to Kent State 33-25, but there weren’t any good wins. This year, the 16th best defense in the FCS gets back ten starters in the 3-4 including the entire front seven. The offense needs to find some semblance of a passing game with C.J. Bennett back. Three starters are gone off the line, but the running attack should be terrific with Kendall Houston and Demetre Baker both big, promising backs. True sophomore J.J. Keals, Baker, and Tyrone Bivins will form one of the nation’s best kickoff return trios.

9. Middle Tennessee | The Entire 2012 Recruiting Class  

The 2012 Class Was Heavy On... 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.

Looking Ahead To The 2012 Season: After a disastrous 2011, the Blue Raiders should be stronger with QB Jeff Murphy leading an offense that moved the ball, but didn’t score. Benny Cunningham and William Pratcher will handle the running game behind a decent-looking line, while the passing attack gets three key targets back including leading receiver Tavarres Jefferson. The defense that was such a nightmare last season will be experienced up front with all four starters returning, but the linebackers have to be better even though Roderic Blunt is the only returning starter. The big problem is a secondary that loses all four starters. 

10. Western Kentucky | The Entire 2012 Recruiting Class  

The 2012 Class Was Heavy On... 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.

Looking Ahead To The 2012 Season: With one of the biggest improvements of 2011, WKU showed that it’s on the verge of being a special Sun Belt program on a yearly basis. Gone is the offense with Bobby Rainey off to the next level, meaning bruising power back Keshawn Simpson needs to shine right away for the ground game. Can QB Kawaun Jakes become a more efficient and more effective playmaker? He’ll have to be, but he should improve with all his receivers back including TE Jack Doyle. LT Wes Jeffries is done, but that’s it off the line. Nine starters return on the offense that started six underclassmen. The defense that was so strong in Sun Belt play gets eight starters back including top pass rusher Quanterus Smith and leading tackler Andrew Jackson, who’ll legitimately deserve preseason All-America consideration.