The recruiting season is here again (as if it ever left). Just wanted to take a look at the areas of need moving forward. Between graduation of seniors and natural attrition for a variety of reasons that occur every year, there will be room for UND to recruit a good-sized class.
Priority Needs: DL, OL, DB, LB
Graduating senior class: 16
Expected class of 2013 signees: 20-23
Lets not kid ourselves, the entire defense needs to be upgraded for talent and depth in the 2013 recruiting class, both from the high school level and transfers. Nothing is more obvious at this time. There is help on the way with the 2012 class that just redshirted this season at all of these positions, but how much help is yet to be determined.
On the defensive line, there are 3 starters to replace in Brenneman, Benjamin and Nelson. All had good careers and played a lot of football. Depth and talent at that spot will definitely be a question mark for 2013. UND needs to find ass-kicking defensive linemen who can play well with their hands, hold their ground and their gaps, and when necessary get their hands on two o-lineman and prevent them from getting to the second level to allow the linebackers to flow and make plays. In the short term, UND may have to look at some combination of JUCO transfers and FBS transfers to stop-gap this problem for 2013. In the long term, the staff on the recruiting trail needs to start stockpiling talent and depth on the defensive front from the prep levels. At minimum, we feel they need to sign at least 4 defensive lineman in this class.
The offensive line isn’t in as dire need as the aforementioned D-line, however, there is still room for considerable improvement here in terms of play on the field and depth overall. UND just graduated McGurran and Lynch, so a couple younger hogs will be plugged in and asked to fill some big shoes at center and guard/tackle in 2013. The shelves are stocked much better than in recent past at this position, but there still needs to be an emphasis here in recruiting. We’d like to see 3-4 additions here as well. JUCOs shouldn’t be necessary, but an FBS transfer is not out of the question. You can never have enough OL depth.
The secondary should be a high priority position of need given the passing it sees in Big Sky play. This position has been lacking playmakers for far too long, both in the passing and running game. Immediate and long term help are both needed. If they go the JUCO route again, it needs to be for an immediate difference maker at corner and/or safety. With all due respect, they didn’t get that from last year’s JUCO transfers. If they can’t get that difference maker from the JUCO levels, then they should stay with prep athletes and hope they can develop their talent for the long term. A good recruiting selling point for defensive back position is the depth chart. Between graduation and quality players, there is a lot to sell to prep athletes right now at UND for playing time. Playing early could be a big factor. We expect to see 3 additions here at least.
The UND linebacking corps needs to be tougher, more physical, and needs to flat-out make more plays in the running game. All 4 linebacking positions have underperformed from where they need to be in order for the UND run defense to be successful. More physicality at the OLB positions would definitely help. We’ve had good speed there for the last couple of years, but the plays haven’t been made like they need to be. Bigger, physical OLBs will help set the edges better on outside running plays and make run fits more defined for the ILBs and DBs, which was a huge problem this season. UND cannot continue to be ‘out-physicaled’ anymore in the run game. OLB is a good place to start to remedy that. This means UND will need to be a little faster at ILB to complement that. Looking at the depth chart, it wouldn’t hurt to have 3 additions from this class. JUCO or FBS transfers could be an option, but again, they need to be immediate difference makers, which are not easy to find. Otherwise, we would much rather go the prep route and start building depth and developing talent in that manner – the ‘old fashioned’ way. Three to four linebackers in this class would not be too many.
All other position groups will probably still sign kids in the 2013 recruiting class. However, the need to invest in those positions will just not be as great. For example, UND might sign another high school QB this year, but it probably won’t be a ‘full-ride’ blue-chip type kid if they do.
February 6th will the day that will let us know if these needs have been addressed. Talent evalution will be critical this year, now more than ever.
UND is hosting their second ‘official’ recruiting visit of the season this coming weekend, Dec. 7-9th. Recruiting info, as always, has been hard to come by. After researching, we have come up with just a few names that we believe are scheduled to be on campus tomorrow:
- Aeron Carr – Athlete – Mesa, AZ
- Cam Kuksa – S – Palatine, IL
- Brandon Miller – OL – Waterford, WI (already committed to UND)
- Kyle Norberg – LB – Cary, IL
- AJ Stockwell – OL, Apple Valley, MN (Eastview)