In our society, we have Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny and the tooth fairy, but who is it that you implore kindness to when you hope for a good recruiting class for your team? Phil Steele? God o_O
While the bad news is that the Red Wolves lose 14 seniors after this most uneven season, the good news is that 14 is also the likely number of returning starters from the lineup that got pummeled by Toledo in the GoDaddy Bowl.
In even better news, nine of those returning starters are on the offensive side-the strength of the team should be even stronger next season. There will be upheaval, but at least we know that A-State will howl with the best on one side of the football.
The defensive side is where it gets fun for Arkansas State fans, though maybe fun is not the right word for it. Let's have a look at the four most pressing position needs for head coach Blake Anderson's squad. It's always a fun and unpredictable time where we lose our minds about teenagers picking which school they will attend.
The Red Wolves' secondary showed its fangs all season, finishing 45th in the FBS against the pass, 34th in forced fumbles, 29th in fumbles recovered and, especially, 15th in interceptions. So why worry about a group of opportunistic playmakers?
Well, because those playmakers were seniors for the most part and have now graduated to other things in life. (Maybe they'll go pro, in football or something else?) Artez Brown, Andrew Tryon and Sterling Young will only influence upcoming A-State games the same way you and I do it, by cheering for the team.
If there was one area of the defense that performed well in 2014, it was this one. Most A-State fans hope that the drop-off won't be too dramatic-and for what it's worth, JUCO players Cody Brown and Allen Sentimore have already signed their own letters of intent.
The one constant in just about all six of the Red Wolves was a complete and utter inability to stop the run-A-State finished 105th in the FBS against the run. Or put another way, as noted before, Louisiana's Elijah McGuire and Alonzo Harris, Texas State's Robert Lowe and Idaho's Kareem Hunt averaged 222 yards against A-State.
Of course, this isn't strictly on the linebackers, but the position wasn't a team strength in 2014. And now, a group that was already somewhat weak loses its leading tackler (and leading intercepter!) in Qushaun Lee. Maybe coach Anderson can come up with a scheme that asks less, and not more, of Xavier Woodson and co.?
Tackle Dexter Blackmon is taking his talents away from Jonesboro, but Chris Stone, Chuks Ota and Carderious Dean all are coming back. Just as important, Ja'Von Rolland-Jones should be healthy again, after a 7.5-sack All-American freshman season.
Continuity on the defensive line can be a good thing, because few teams can match the pressure prowess of Rolland-Jones and Stone. But when a defensive unit is as bad against the run as A-State was, a group needs all the reinforcements it can hope for.
The more new players decide to sign up along the Red Wolves defensive line, the merrier it'll be for all of us. For example, let's hope for more of this.
I'M COMMITTED TO ARKANSAS STATE RED WOLVES AND I'M SHUTTING MY RECRUITING PROCESS.— Freak❌ (@Fred_AhFoo) 30 Janvier 2015
I've confirmed A-State was able to fend off a couple of Big 10 schools in order to keep @Fred_AhFoo's commitment. More to come soon.— RedWolfReport.com (@RedWolfReport) 30 Janvier 2015
God bless this Fred Brown.
Stability along the offensive line, where the same five players started all 13 games, played a role in the team's success moving the ball. But the group wasn't always reliable in pass protection however, allowing no fewer 31 sacks on the season.
Center Tyler Greve and right guard Alan Wright graduate this year and yet, maybe it will all work out. Among the six JUCO guys who have already committed to play in Jonesboro are Brandon Berg and Joseph Bacchus, who play... center and guard, respectively.
Maybe coach Anderson knows what he's doing.
What do you think? A-State currently has the 71st or the 82nd recruiting class, depending on whether you ask Yahoo Sports/Rivals or CBSSports/247 Sports, but how do you make this incoming class better?