What holes do Pac-12 teams need to fill with the 2014 class?
The recruiting cycle for the class of 2014 has begun.
With spring practice already underway for some schools and just around the corner for most others, coaches will begin to see where their recruiting efforts need to be focused, and the press on rising seniors will start to accelerate. Rivals.com's team of local and national recruiting analysts compiled each school's list of needs heading into the 2014 cycle -- and the chances each can address those holes. Here are the biggest needs of the Pac-12 programs, listed alphabetically.
• What it needs in '14: At this point, the big areas of need will be along the offensive and defensive lines. Adding depth in the trenches will be important. Digging a little deeper, the Wildcats could use help -- up to three players -- at the cornerback position.
• Can it be done? The 2014 crop in Arizona is talented from top to bottom, and that puts Rich Rodriguez and staff in an enviable position to land players of need. One of the brightest spots comes on the offensive line, and there are plenty of athletes who could translate to cornerbacks at the next level. There has been a recent trend of Tucson-area kids heading to Arizona, and this class has already begun to follow suit; four-star athlete Cameron Denson committed to the Wildcats out of Tucson (Ariz.) Salpointe.
• What it needs in '14: Arizona State didn't take a quarterback in the 2012 class, and it lost out when Joshua Dobbs flipped to Tennessee on National Signing Day 2013. That makes the position a dramatic area of need in 2014. The Sun Devils also didn't take a true running back last cycle and are light on scholarship bodies. As if that weren't enough, Arizona State will look to add three or four linemen in this class.
• Can it be done? The quarterback spot is a must and this is a very good year for the position relative to recent classes. In fact, Rivals250 talent Kyle Allen plays right down the road at Scottsdale (Ariz.) Desert Mountain. Running back is a tougher hole to fill with in-state prospects, but the Southern California area is well stocked. Offensive linemen in Arizona are good, but they're being raided on a regular basis. Todd Graham may need to look elsewhere to fill out his roster.
• What it needs in '14: Defensive back -- specifically safety -- will be the major need in Cal's 2014 class. The team took only two defensive backs this year after missing out on L.J. Moore and Patrick Enewally, and the Golden Bears head into spring ball with just five safeties and four corners. Running back is another place where the program is extremely light. The coaches wanted to take a second back in last year's haul, but they couldn't find anyone with both the talent and the grades to fit.
• Can it be done? The talent pool in California is always one of the deepest in the country, so in all likelihood new coach Sonny Dykes and staff can get these spots filled. And based on early evaluations, defensive back and running back are two of the stronger positions in the state for 2014. Cal has already landed four-star athlete Koa Farmer from Sherman Oaks (Calif.) Notre Dame, and his position remains undefined. With his size (6-foot-2, 207 pounds), he could help the Golden Bears in a variety of ways.
• What it needs in '14: In terms of raw numbers, new head coach Mike MacIntyre did an admirable job addressing Colorado's depth issues with his class of 2013. However, after not signing any tight ends and only one stout defensive tackle, the Buffaloes will need to address both positions as they pursue their 2014 recruiting haul.
• Can it be done? Colorado is not a deep state for talent, and the program is hitting the bottom of a bad cycle right now. MacIntyre will have his work cut out for him if he hopes to bring in the talent necessary to spark a turnaround in Boulder. If the Buffs can land name-brand center Trenton Noeller out of Windsor (Colo.) High, it could be a promising sign of things to come. Otherwise, Colorado might have to load up on two- and three-star prospects in most areas of need.
• What it needs in '14: The biggest priority for Oregon in 2014 will be defensive tackle, as the Ducks are set to lose three starters and depth. Mark Helfrich and staff could sign as many as six defensive line prospects given the right circumstances. Elsewhere on defense, Oregon should look to add three linebackers and at least three new players in the secondary.
• Can it be done? Oregon has become a program that recruits on a national scale, and that could be particularly valuable in this class: Only two in-state prospects are currently ranked in the Rivals250. Look for the Ducks to target nearby linebacker Joey Alfieri and defensive end Connor Humphreys, but also expect them to reach into the South. They pulled four-star defensive end Torrodney Prevot out of Houston in the 2013 cycle.
• What it needs in '14: Offensive linemen will be a priority for the staff, as the Beavers could take up to four players there. The team will also be on high alert for interested quarterbacks and wide receivers. On the defensive side of the ball, Mike Riley and Co. seem ready to target high school linebackers and juco defensive linemen.
• Can it be done? Oregon State his historically flown under the radar and found system guys, and the quarterback class may typify that this year. There are plenty of solid players on the West Coast, but many of them are looking east. A player who may fit perfectly with the Beavers is Morgan Mahalak from Kentfield (Calif.) Marin Catholic. Mahalak was the backup for four-star Jared Goff last season, but he's on the rise and may generate some buzz during the summer recruiting circuit.
• What it needs in '14: The far-and-away No. 1 need is defensive back. Stanford didn't sign a true defensive back in the 2013 class -- although it seems like receiver Taijuan Thomas will at least begin his career on the defensive side of the ball. The Cardinal have offered and are aggressively pursuing a number of top secondary targets, and, to a lesser extent, several defensive tackles, offensive tackles, middle linebackers and receivers.
• Can it be done? Stanford may very well find a talented player on the defensive line -- four-star Nifae Lealao indicated he loved the program -- and it has drawn the interest of several top linebackers. Yet, defensive backs may be harder to come by. Though California has loads of cornerbacks and safeties in state, David Shaw and staff could have a difficult time finding guys who have both the grades and the talent to star in Palo Alto.
• What it needs in '14: Even after a solid close to its last class at the position, UCLA figures to go after some speedy receivers. It will probably look closely for some running backs and defensive linemen as well. Jim Mora is sending his assistants to the East and the South, so look for a wider net to be cast for prospects than the Bruins' recent history suggests.
• Can it be done? Receivers seem to be busting at the seams in 2014, and UCLA's up-and-coming offense should attract no shortage of talented options. The Bruins hosted Rivals100 wideout Malachi Dupre on an unofficial visit in early February and has enough talent in the surrounding areas to fill the spot. Running back is absolutely loaded in California this season, but it is very top heavy, and there will be major battles for top recruits. UCLA will need to get into the mix early and often to compete.
• What it needs in '14: Considering that USC signed only 13 guys in last year's class, the needs for the Trojans are widespread. Still, the biggest point of concern is the defensive line. The program has only signed three linemen in the past two years, one of whom (Morgan Breslin) was a juco transfer. USC also needs some offensive line help; it only has 10 linemen on the current roster, barely filling the two-deep depth chart.
• Can it be done? This is a crossroads class for USC, as it continues to recruit nationally, but it's coming off a cycle in which it lost several top prospects. The Trojans' on-field results have tarnished some of the program's luster, so Lane Kiffin and staff may need to lock up players closer to home. Right now, they're cleaning up on the offensive line. Toa Lobendahn from La Habra (Calif.) High, Jordan Poland of La Jolla (Calif.) Country Day and Casey Tucker of Chandler (Ariz.) Hamilton are all verbally pledged. But if last season taught us anything, it's that maintaining commitments can be an issue in L.A.
• What it needs in '14: The biggest need for the program is on the offensive line. The secondary concern is defensive back, particularly safety. Utah's goal -- first and foremost -- is to upgrade its speed and athleticism across the roster to compete in the Pac-12. The move to the league has expanded the Utes' footprint, but it also uncovered needs the team has to address.
• Can it be done? The talent in Utah is often unearthed later in the evaluation process, so it's hard to say whether local talent is enough to build on this year. Four-star offensive lineman Jackson Barton of Salt Lake City (Utah) Brighton could be the steal of the class if the Utes can keep him committed. The program could also dip into Arizona to add to its crop, as it boasts the most regional talent in recent memory.
• What it needs in '14: It's crystal clear: Washington needs more offensive linemen. The program missed out on a couple of top targets in the 2013 cycle, and seeing Sean Harlow flip to Oregon State at the end of the process certainly stung. Depth is limited in comparison with much of the Pac-12. If there is a spot the Huskies need to focus on, it's in the trenches.
• Can it be done? Washington has sent out more offers in Arizona this year than it has in cycles past, and it's moved into Southern California to try and lure some touted prospects. As of yet, however, both moves have borne little fruit. This cycle could be a struggle for Washington to land players on the interior of the offensive line, but the Huskies have to push for them if they're going to improve.
• What it needs in '14: Mike Leach has been adamant about building the offensive line during his first two years in Pullman, and in the process he has brought over 10 new linemen. Continuing to add to that crop will be a start, and then the Cougars need to bolster their secondary. With several key defensive backs nearing graduation, there could be an emphasis in bringing in four to six cornerbacks or safeties.
• Can it be done? Offensive line is a little bit down in the Pacific Northwest, which will put Washington State in a similar position to Washington. However, there are some high-profile defensive backs in the state and region. The best thing Leach and his staff can do right now is find athletes and get them on the field. The blitz-happy Cougars' defense uses speedy and rangy players to make up for its general lack of size.
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