The Red Wolf coaching staff has Ambushed Arkansas! Now they are scouring surrounding states looking for superstars and/or hidden gems.
If you want to be successful in college football you have to have the talent. And if you want to become the "Boise State of the South" and "to be that mid major program that is constantly knocking on the BCS Bowl Door" then you have to have NFL level talent.
In only a few months, Gus Malzahn proved he could put together a top notch Sun Belt recruiting class. Arkansas State inked the top ranked class in the SBC in 2012 only months after hiring Malzahn. A-State Nation hopes that given a full year, the recruiting class could be even better.
There are almost daily updates on AStateNation.com of offers being made to new recruits. However, in order to make a legitimate guess at who the Red Wolf staff may sign in the 2013 class, you have to try to make an educated guess at what is needed. AStateNation looks at what the needs are and takes a shot at the 2013 recruiting needs for the ASU. The 2013 class should be right at 25 signees, so let's take a look at what we think the needs will be...
Quarterbacks – Ryan Aplin will be gone. Four scholarship quarterbacks will return to compete for the job in the spring of 2013. Three of those four could play other positions, however I expect all will continue at quarterback into fall camp before any changes occur. Even with three young quarterbacks on the roster, Malzahn and Rhett Lashlee will want to sign at least one high school quarterback, especially knowing that any or all three of the younger guys can play elsewhere – 1 High School Quarterback. Don't be shocked if a transfer or two could be added to the mix.
Running Backs – A-State will return all five scholarship running backs in 2013. While that means a lot of talent and depth returning, running back is similar to quarterback that you want to sign at least one a year. This could allow the staff to be picky and get the best possible high school guy they can find – 1 High School Running Back.
Wide Receivers – Major losses at the wide receiver position will require the Red Wolves to find some immediate impact guys in the 2013 class. Eight scholarship receivers return with very little size other than from the freshmen. A junior college receiver may be needed to come in and replace the production that will be lost from the "Big 3" (Taylor Stockemer, Josh Jarboe and Alan Muse). Picking up two high school wide receivers will provide depth or perhaps young stars in the making. The high school guys will be size guys as well with so many "slot" type receivers on campus – 1 Juco Wide Receiver and 2 High School Wide Receivers.
Tight Ends/H-Backs – Only two scholarship tight ends will return for 2013. Two high school tight ends will be needed to come in and provide depth. The goal would be to find another high school recruit or two in the same mold as Darrion Griswold. The "wide receiver in a tight end's body" fits Malzahn's offense really well and is ideal. Of course if you sign 2 high school tight ends, perhaps one should have the H-back build (a larger athlete that could play fullback or tight end) – 2 High School Tight Ends.
Offensive Line – Lots of depth returns for the linemen, fifteen scholarship guys. The big question will be the left tackle position and how the linemen improve under JB Grimes in 2012. If the newcomers step up throughout the season then there might not be any juco needs. Of those fifteen returnees in 2013, six of them will be seniors. We are going to put our trust in Grimes and go with four high school offensive linemen to build the depth. The addition of two high school guys and two junior college linemen allows you to redshirt the high school signees and build for the future – 2 High School Offensive Linemen and 2 Junior College Linemen.
Defensive Ends – Minus the depth, defensive end is similar to the offensive line. Like the O-line there is a need for the ends in the 2012 class to be players and make an impact. If they are, then you can go to the high school ranks for depth. Seven or eight guys (Depending on where Eddie Porter lands) are projected at end positions, but five of those eight will be seniors in 2013. There is a need to sign three defensive ends in the 2013 recruiting class. One junior college end may be needed to come in and be an impact player, allowing for two high school guys for depth. Three ends is still the need, even if the need is all high school guys, but a juco impact player makes sense – 2 Junior College Defensive End and 1 High School Defensive Ends.
Defensive Tackles – The Red Wolves will have six scholarship defensive tackles back. Three of those guys will be seniors. Those three seniors should be the top players at the position (Ryan Carrethers, Amos Draper, and Dexter Blackmon). Three high school defensive tackles could come in and be waiting in the wings to take over once that trio leaves. Similar to defensive end you could decide to take one juco guy and two high school guys, but this time there is an abundance of talent at the position with the upperclassmen – 2 High School Defensive Tackles and 1 Junior College Tackle. (NOTE: ASU's one commit is Logan Cart – defensive tackle.)
Linebacker – The 4-2-5 defense only plays two linebackers and the 2013 Red Wolves should have six or seven scholarship guys returning. Losing Nathan Herrold and Nick Nelms will hurt as both should be top tacklers in 2012. The returners should have a nice level of athletic ability and should be ready to compete for starting jobs. One junior college linebacker could come in and take over at one of the two vacated roles while a high school athlete could add to the young talent at the position – 1 Junior College Linebacker and 1 High School Linebacker.
Safety – Three starting safeties, even though one is a hybrid, requires a lot of bodies to build a depth chart. Only six scholarship safeties will be back for the 2013 season, but there should be a couple of solid walk-ons to provide depth. The young safeties will be very talented and should be one part of a very good defensive backfield for the Red Wolves. There is enough talent among the safeties that the Red Wolves could go the route that Malzahn prefers and pick up just high school players. Depth is still an issue though, but signing three high school safeties could fill that need. One or two of those guys need to be a guy with the size and speed to grow into the hybrid "Wolf" position - 1 High School Safety and 2 Junior College ones. (NOTE: Marquis Walker – Rison is expected to greyshirt and could be one of these 3)
Cornerbacks – Maybe the most talented bunch in 2013. Five scholarship guys return and there will not be any seniors in the lot. The corners, along with the safeties, make the 2013 defensive backfield not only young but extremely talented. There shouldn't be a need for any juco transfers, but five guys just is not enough for depth throughout a season. Two high school cornerbacks can provide that depth while redshirting – 2 High School Cornerbacks.
Punter – Neely Sullivent and Ryan Wilbourn will both be gone. This 2013 "signee" may already be on campus. If Luke Ferguson proves that he is capable of handling the kickoff and punting duties then he could land a scholarship for the 2013 season. Since he would have been out of high school less than 2 years, he will need to be added to the signing class and count toward the yearly 25 count. He will have to earn it, but Ferguson makes a lot of sense – 1 On Campus Punter/Kicker.