All this talk of this year’s depth chart and possible starters has me thinking about our future depth. In the current recruiting class, we have verbal commitments from a running back, three wide receivers, an offensive lineman, three defensive ends, three linebackers and one defensive back.
So what do we need to add to our current class? In addition to the best available athletes, we need a quarterback, two offensive linemen and two defensive tackles.
Sure, we have five quarterbacks on the 2011 roster. But by 2013 we’ll have two because Larry Smith and Jordan Rodgers will have graduated and either Josh Grady or Lafonte Thourogood will have changed positions. I promise you that neither Grady nor Thourogood will spend his college career as a backup quarterback. We need a real quarterback, as opposed to an athlete, in this year’s class. Four-star Chad Voytik of Cleveland, Tenn., who’s narrowed his choices to Vandy and Pitt, would be a huge addition.
As for offensive linemen, it takes a couple of years to develop those guys for SEC play, and by 2013 we will have lost three starters, our top backup and probably at least one other backup. So we need two more of them to join Barrett Gouger in this year’s class, and the bigger and more game-ready the better. Franklin has said he's looking for big, athletic, long-armed tackles. And we need at least two more next year.
As for defensive linemen, we sorely need a couple of SEC caliber tackles, which means some 300-pounders. We lose T.J. Greenstone after this year, and by next year will have lost four more defensive tackles, including Rob Lohr and Colt Nichter. And we need two more in the signing class of 2013. That will be a tall order.
Some fans were distressed by Franklin's plans to improve the offense, which include long bombs, trick plays, going for it on fourth down, and faking punts and field goals. Hey folks, that's what you've got to do — at the right time, of course — if you plan to win in the SEC without an SEC-caliber offensive or defensive line.
By 2013, we’ll need another running back (preferably a big one to eventually replace Wesley Tate) as well as a wide receiver, a tight end, a linebacker, two cornerbacks, a safety, a punter, and the four aforementioned linemen on both sides of the ball.
And a partridge in a pear tree.
Here’s a look at our additions and subtractions over the next couple of years, as well as our recruiting needs right now:
• Losing: Larry Smith after 2011, as well as either Josh Grady or Lafonte Thourogood to position change; losing Jordan Rodgers after 2012
• Gaining: Nobody yet
• Needs: A quarterback recruit for the current 2012 class – as opposed to an athlete who can play quarterback – and another in 2013
• Losing: Micah Powell after 2011 (not invited for a fifth year); losing Zac Stacy and Warren Norman after 2012
• Gaining: Brian Kimbrow in 2012
• Needs: A big back for 2013
• Losing: Udom Umoh (graduation) and Akeem Dunham (not invited back) and possibly John Cole after 2011; possibly losing Jacquese Kirk to secondary after 2011; losing Brady Brown (not invited back) after 2012
• Gaining: Jaydrick Declouet, Cory Batey and Elston Lane in 2012; possibly Lafonte Thourogood or Josh Grady from quarterback in 2012
• Needs: Another receiver in 2013
• Losing: Brandon Barden and possibly Austin Monahan (who’d be a sixth-year senior) after 2011; likely losing walk-on Marc Panu and possibly Mason Johnston after 2012
• Gaining: Nobody yet; could gain Darien Bryant after 2011 if he switches from defense
• Needs: Another tight end in 2013
• Losing: Kyle Fischer after 2011; Caleb Welchans, Jabo Burrow, Ryan Seymour and possibly Mylon Brown after 2012; could eventually lose Joe Townsend to the defensive line
• Gaining: Barrett Gouger in 2012
• Needs: Two more offensive linemen in current 2012 class, another two or three in 2013
• Losing: T.J. Greenstone (graduation) and likely Josh Jelesky and Taylor Loftley (not returning for fifth year) after 2011; Rob Lohr and Colt Nichter after 2012
• Gaining: Ladarius Banks in 2012; possibly Joe Townsend from the offensive line
• Needs: Two true defensive tackles in the current 2012 class, and another one or two in 2013
• Losing: Tim Fugger (graduation), Dexter Daniels (not invited back) and possibly Johnell Thomas after 2011; possibly losing Thad McHaney after 2012
• Gaining: Tre Griffin, Caleb Azubike and Josh Dawson in 2012
• Needs: No pressing needs through 2013
• Losing: Chris Marve to graduation, as well as Al Owens and likely at least one other current redshirt junior – Tristan Strong, DeAndre Jones or Archibald Barnes — after 2011; losing the remainder of those players after 2012
• Gaining: Stephen Weatherly, Darrien Herring and Jacob Sealand in 2012
• Needs: At least another linebacker by 2013
• Losing: Casey Hayward after 2011; Eddie Foster and Trey Wilson after 2012
• Gaining: Paris Head in 2012
• Needs: Another two cornerbacks by 2013
• Losing: Sean Richardson after 2011; Eric Samuels and maybe Javon Marshall after 2012
• Gaining: Nobody yet
• Needs: Another safety or two by 2013
• Losing: Ryan Fowler after 2012, or maybe after 2011 if Carey Spear proves to be a better placekicker
• Gaining: Nobody
• Needs: No kicker needed until 2014
• Losing: Richard Kent after 2012, or after 2011 if he opts to graduate on time
• Gaining: Nobody
• Needs: A new punter after Kent leaves in 2012 or 2013