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March 2, 2013

Non-BCS: Class of 2014 positions of need

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Dallas Jackson is the National Columnist for Rivals.com. Email him your comments or story ideas to DallasJ@Yahoo-Inc.com and follow him on Twitter.

The recruiting cycle for the class of 2014 has begun.

With the start of spring practice around the corner, coaches will begin to see where the efforts need to be focused and pressure on rising seniors will accelerate.

Rivals.com's team of local writers has combined with recruiting analysts to compile what each team needs and the chances that this recruiting class can fill those needs.

Today, the series concludes with programs in non-BCS conferences.

What it needs in '14: At the top of the list will be wide receivers. The offensive line will be hit by graduation -- probably more so at tackle -- but not as much as 2015 when the interior players graduate. The program is addressing that early having an offer out on Chandler (Ariz.) Hamilton junior Bryce Holland. On defense, there are several senior linebackers and those spots will need to be filled. Additionally, the scheme on defense makes outside linebacker, strong safety and free safety interchangeable, which means more recruitment of athletes and fewer spot-specific players. For special teams, punter looks like a need.
What it needs in '14: The 2013 class was spent on offense as BYU got seven players. For 2014, it will be the other side of the ball with plenty of focus on the defensive line. BYU runs a 3-4, so a big defensive tackle is a priority. The program also likes athletic DEs, and there are plenty in BYU's area of recruiting. BYU is going after top talent in this class with Peyton Newell, Solomon Thomas, Nifae Lealao and Jarvis Polu. The program just lost out on in-state defensive tackle Bryan Mone, but sometimes those early losses refocus efforts.
What it needs in '14: In Lincoln Riley's offense, ECU likes to sign at least one quarterback in every class, so expect that to happen again. The team will need tall, fast receivers to replace those about to depart. A couple of running backs would ease the transition to the Big East. ECU brought in only one RB for the class of 2013, and he was a JUCO player -- not exactly a long-term depth builder. The need for additional defensive linemen is apparent with the conference shift. Also, look for ECU to bring in a couple of cornerbacks. An upgrade in terms of overall size will be paramount in its transition.
What it needs in '14: Houston's main concern is along the defensive line -- defensive tackles mostly, but it also needs to shore up end depth. The program enters this season thin at tackle after adding only one prep player in the 2013 class. After that, Houston will be looking to shore up the safety depth in the 2014 class. The Cougars are always looking for quality receivers. One last spot that needs attention is TE. Houston addressed the position in the 2013 class with three-star Deondre Skinner, but new offensive coordinator Doug Meacham -- who came from Oklahoma State -- will look to incorporate TEs into the offense. Other than Skinner, there is only one candidate on the roster.
What it needs in '14: Louisiana Tech will be looking at gaping holes this class after it swung and missed on three key positions with the class of 2013. The program did not take a quarterback last class, and it is expected to take at least one with this group. Running back is also alarmingly thin. In the class of 2012 the team took two backs, but it did not sign one in 2013. Louisiana Tech did not land a high school LB in 2013, although it signed a prep school player.
What it needs in '14: Robert Morris enters a transition year as it begins recruiting for 2014. It begins not only with Joe Walton's curtain call as head coach and the transition to former Steelers defensive lineman John Banaszak, but it's also in a change in the recruiting process. A minor player in recruiting because NEC programs have only 40 scholarships, Robert Morris altered its process last year and is beginning to see results. Not known for landing major prospects, RMU landed four two-star prospects -- a first -- as well as a couple of unrated prospects (such as Canadian OL Riley Feenan) who had strong interest from BCS schools late in the process. Just as important will be the Paul Jones experiment. The former four-star recruit and Penn State transfer not only has a chance to resurrect his career at Robert Morris, he has a chance to put Colonials football on the map for future recruits.
What it needs in '14: First-year head coach Todd Monken and his staff did a remarkable job of filling immediate needs. They signed prospects at just about every position on the roster and could boast a solid, diverse class for 2013. For 2014, Southern Miss will need to solidify depth at the offensive line positions and receiver, specifically speed receivers who will allow Monken's offense to spread the field. A program with a rich history will be looking to put an 0-12 season behind it. With Monken's heads-up approach and a good recruiting class, that should be a fairly easy task.
What it needs in '14: Temple will be back in the hands of Matt Rhule, who was on the staff with Al Golden and Steve Addazio before a year with the New York Giants. The main points of concern for the group will be quarterback and cornerback. Temple has been inconsistent at quarterback, but this is a strong group regionally this year. Cornerbacks could be harder to find, although the program is dipping its toes into Virginia Beach and South Florida, where the talent is plentiful.
What it needs in '14: The linebacker spot is of prime importance because the team didn't get a whole lot this class and will be losing four players -- including a sure starter in Zach Davis and potential starters in Dominique Robertson and Logan Hamilton. As for WR, the team signed only Tristan Cooper, who might line up at receiver or defensive back -- and will lose three, including group leader Ryan Grant. The defensive end numbers are low -- only three healthy bodies for spring drills. Tulane has a scholarship punter and a scholarship placekicker -- Lou Groza Award winner Cairo Santos -- both ready to exit the program, and it doesn't have any other scholarship kickers on the roster.
What it needs in '14: The top need for Tulsa in 2014 is running back. The team had a three-headed attack last season with a senior and two juniors. The coaches weren't able to sign a back in 2013 because Jonathan Parker flipped to Iowa on National Signing Day. By the end of the 2013 season, Tulsa will have lost its top three running backs to graduation, meaning it probably will need at least two in the 2014 signing class.
What it needs in '14: The ULM Warhawks will be looking to the 2014 class to find replacements on offense for Kolton Browning and Jyruss Edwards. The quarterback and running back, respectively, account for the bulk of the Warhawks' offensive yards and success. The Warhawks also need to find a receiving threat with the graduation of Je'Ron Hamm. On defense, it will be more of a roster management season, filling requisite needs from graduation and looking for depth and size on the line.

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