Areas of Need: Defensive Line, Linebacker, Running Back
Key Losses: Tim Jefferson, QB; Asher Clark, RB; Michael Hester, OL; A.J. Wallerstein, OL; Zach Payne, DL; Ryan Gardner, DL; Brady Amack, LB; Jordan Waiwaiole, LB; Patrick Hennessey, LB; Anthony Wright, DB; Jon Davis, DB.
Recruiting Highlights: Due to the Air Force Academy appointment process, names of recruited student-athletes are not released until they arrive on campus in the summer.
That said, the Falcons need to address several spots on a defense that endured its share of struggles last season, largely due to injuries across the defensive front. "I think you can find a little bigger players and still understand they'll have to complete basic training and aerobically be physically fit," coach Troy Calhoun recently told the Colorado Springs Gazette. "That's part of the Air Force Academy. You have to keep digging and digging. When you get the right mix of size and experience, you're going to have winning football teams here."
Areas of Need: Defensive Line, Running Back
Key Losses: Tyler Shoemaker, WR; Nate Potter, OL; Thomas Byrd, OL; Kyle Efaw, TE; Kellen Moore, QB; Doug Martin, RB; Billy Winn, DL; Chase Baker, DL; Shea McClellin, DE; Byron Hout, LB; Aaron Tevis, LB; George Iloka, S.
Recruiting Highlights: The Broncos addressed their needs across the defensive front by signing Butler (Kan.) Community College defensive tackle Demarcus Lawrence and Sam McCaskill, a defensive end from Sheldon High in Eugene, Ore., who led the state in tackles (115) and sacks (16) as a senior. Darien Barrett, a defensive end from Inglewood High in Inglewood, Calif., had 10 sacks and 42 total tackles in his senior season. At running back, BSU, which learned earlier this week that senior D.J. Harper has been granted a sixth year of eligibility, added Devan Demas, who amassed 2,114 all-purpose yards and 26 total touchdowns as a senior at Houston's Cypress Creek High, and Jack Fields, a product of El Paso's Americas High who carried 280 times for 2,478 yards and 25 touchdowns in his senior season.
Other Signees of Note: Chaz Anderson, DB; Travis Averill, OL; Chancellor James, DB; Nick Patti, QB; Connor Peters, TE; Shane Rhodes, WR; Chris Santini, DB; Ben Weaver, LB.
Areas of Need: Quarterback, Offensive Line.
Key Losses: Pete Thomas, QB; Paul Madsen, OL; Jake Gdowski, OL.
Recruiting Highlights: With quarterback Pete Thomas, once considered the cornerstone of the offense, having transferred to North Carolina State, the Rams added Craig Leonard to compete with sophomore incumbent Garrett Grayson. Leonard, a 2011 graduate of Fossil Ridge High School in Fort Collins, signed a financial-aid agreement Dec. 6, 2011, enrolled in time for January 2012 classes and will practice with the Rams this spring after spending last season at Jireh Prep School in Monroe, N.C. Leonard played just one varsity season at Fossil Ridge, but led Colorado's largest classification, 5A, in both passing yards (2,558) and passing TDs (26). The Rams signed five offensive lineman including Nick Callender (6-5, 285) from St. Mary's College High School in Hayward, Calif.; A.J. Frieler (6-5, 295) from West High School in Greeley, Colo.; Chuck Ragland (6-7, 295) from College of San Mateo in Denver; Tomas Rivera (6-6, 315) from Poly High in Long Beach, Calif.; and Fred Zerblis (6-3, 295) from Grayson High School in Grayson, Ga. Four signees were part of state championships in their senior years of high school (Danny Nwosu in Maryland, Johnny Schupp in California, Fred Zerblis in Georgia and Chuck Ragland in Colorado). Kevin Davis, a LB from Fountain-Fort Carson high school located south of Colorado Springs was a Parade All-American his senior year.
Other Signees of Note: Brett Jordan, TE; Calvin Tonga, LB.
Areas of Need: Defensive Line, Wide Receiver
Key Losses: Bryce Harris, OL; Devon Wylie, WR; Donavaughn Pritchett, DE: Chase McEntee, DL; Kyle Knox, LB; Logan Harrell, DL; Kevin Goessling, PK
Recruiting Highlights: With the emergence of quarterback Derek Carr, Fresno State added to its wide receiver depth with the signing of Aaron Peck and Justin Johnson. As a senior at JW North High in Moreno Valley, Calif., the 6-foot-3, 215-pound Peck caught 38 passes for 769 yards (20.2 yards per catch) and eight touchdowns while recording three 100-yard receiving games. While Johnson missed most of his senior season with a knee injury, he nonetheless qualified for the California Interscholastic Federation state track championships, where he qualified for the finals in both the long jump and triple jump, With the defense switching to a 3-4 scheme next season under new head coach Tim DeRuyter, the Bulldogs went after defensive lineman Jean-Marc Brierre (Pauma Valley, Calif./Valley Center High), who at 6-4, 275 can play both defensive end and nose guard.
Other Signees of Note: Quarterback Myles Carr (Arcadia High, Arcadia, Ca), who is no relation to Derek Carr, was the Pacific League Offensive Player of the Year after throwing for 2,484 yards and 30 touchdowns against six interceptions as a senior.
Areas of Need: Offensive Line, Linebacker
Key Losses: Bryant Moniz, QB; Corey Padredes, LB; Aaron Brown, LB; Royce Pollard, WR; Kaniela Tuipulotu, OL
Recruiting Highlights: The Warriors signed three of the state's top prospects in linebacker Benetton Fonua (Kahuku HS), running back Steven Lakalaka (Punahou School) and offensive lineman Kiha Sai (Kamehameha Schools-Kapālama). Fonua was the state's Defensive Player of the Year last season, while Sai was rated as the No. 3 recruit in the state. Lakalaka was selected as the Gatorade Hawaii Football Player of the Year and was rated as the No. 3 recruit in the state, and 36th-best running back nationally by Rivals.com. New head coach Norm Chow was also able to land a number of other players being pursued by FBS schools, including defensive lineman Dejon Allen of Dominguez High School in California, who picked UH over Arizona State; offensive tackle Leo Koloamatangi of Sacred Heart Prep in California, who turned down Purdue; defensive back Ronald Fields of the College of San Mateo, who was recruited heavily by Washington; and Lakalaka, who picked the Warriors over UCLA.
Other Signees of Note: Clark Evans, TE
Areas of Need: Quarterback, Defensive Line, Wide Receiver.
Key Losses: Isaiah Frey, DB; James-Michael Johnson, LB; Rishard Matthews, WR
Recruiting Highlights: Fifteen of the 18 players who will join the team in the fall will come directly from the high school ranks. Nevada signed five junior college transfers, with two - defensive backs Markus Smith, and Nigel Haikins - having already enrolled. The remaining three JC players --- WR Nigel Westbrooks, defensive linemen Shane Pennix and Cortez Woods (a junior college All-American) --- should help fill areas of need. The Wolf Pack signed a pair of quarterbacks in Tyler Stewart (Simi Valley, Calif.), the California State Player of the Year (Division IV) by MaxPreps), and Hasaan Henderson (Las Vegas, Nev.) to go along with a pair of running backs in Chris Solomon (West Covina, Calif.) and Xavier Stephens (Tulare, Calif.). Including Westbrooks, Nevada signed four wide receivers and a tight end in this year's class.
Other Signees of Note: Cody Tuttle, WR; Randy Uzoma, WR
Areas of Need: Offensive Line, Defensive Line, Running Back.
Key Losses: Jaymar Latchison, DL; Carmen Messina, LB; Crusoe Gongbay, RB; Deon Long, WR; Anthony Hooks, CB; Bubba Forrest, S; James Aho, K.
Recruiting Highlights: New coach Bob Davie, who spent nine years as an assistant at Texas A&M, dug deep into the Lone Star State, with half of the team's 24 recruits hailing from Texas. But the nugget was Gerron Borne, a 6-2, 275-pound defensive tackle from East St. John High in Reserve, La. Borne, who was also being courted by Illinois, Pittsburgh and Tennessee. Borne finished with 49 tackles, 13 tackles for loss, six sacks, two forced fumbles and one fumble recovery as a senior. He is said to bench press 330 pounds, squat 485 and have a 27-inch vertical leap. The Lobos also addressed a largely unsettled quarterback situation by signing Cole Gautsche, the New Mexico Gatorade Player of the Year in 2011. The 6-foot-4, 220-pound Gautsche, a product of Cleveland High in Rio Rancho, threw for 3,085 yards and 39 touchdowns with just four interceptions last season. With New Mexico moving from a 4-3 to a 3-4 defensive alignment this year, the Lobos signed three defensive linemen, four linebackers and five defensive backs. Defensive lineman Darian Allen of W.W. Samuell High School in Dallas, Texas played in the 2011 U.S. Army All-American Game after finishing his senior year with with 60 tackles, five sacks and three tackles for loss.
Other Signees of Note: Cranston James, DB; Ryan Santos, DB.
San Diego State
Areas of Need: Quarterback, Offensive Line
Key Losses: Ryan Lindley, QB; Ronnie Hillman, RB; Tommie Draheim, OL; Kurtis Gunther, OL; Jerome Long, DL; Miles Burris, LB: Logan Ketchum, LB; Abelardo Perez, K; Brian Stahovich, P.
Recruiting Highlights: The Aztecs addressed their depleted offensive and defensive fronts by signing a combined 11 linemen (six offensive, five defensive). But the buzz around San Diego State has more to do with mid-year transfers, a group that includes senior wide receiver Brice Butler, a former standout at USC; senior quarterback Ryan Katz, who transferred from Oregon State; junior running back and former USC recruit Dillon Baxter; and sophomore tight end Aaron Boesch. Butler, Katz and Boesch are eligible to play for the Aztecs this coming fall, while Baxter must redshirt the 2012 season due to NCAA guidelines. Butler, who arrived at USC as a four-star recruit in 2008, had 31 catches for 554 yards and three TDs with the Trojans. As a prep, Rivals.com rated him the No. 13 wideout in the country. Katz played in 18 games for Oregon State from 2008-11, starting 14 contests and throwing for 2,722 yards and 19 touchdowns. Baxter, a former standout at San Diego's Mission Bay High, was a five-star recruit coming out of high school and was rated the No. 1 all-purpose back in the country. Boesch arrives from Santa Monica College, where he caught 26 passes last season for 388 yards and five touchdowns. With the departure of Lindley, a four-year starter, the Aztecs currently have six quarterbacks on the roster, five of whom will be participating in spring drills starting Feb. 21.
Other Signees of Note: Austin Maass, OL; Kwayde Miller, OL; Matt Morin, QB; Teddy Queen, DE; Nico Siragusa, OL.
Areas of Need: Wide Receiver, Quarterback, DL
Key Losses: Phillip Payne, WR; Michael Johnson, WR; Anthony Vidal, TE; B.J. Bell, DL; James Dunlap, DL; Will Chandler, DB
Recruiting Highlights: With both Phillip Payne, the school's all-time leader in touchdown receptions, and Michael Johnson gone, the Rebels signed a pair of wide receivers in Michael Thomas (A three-star recruit according to Scout.com, which ranked him the No. 155 receiver in the class) and Anthony Williams. Thomas, who comes from Cosumnes Oaks High in Elk Grove, Ca., caught 38 passes for 400 yards and seven touchdowns as a senior. He was also a punter who averaged 39.0 yards per punt his senior year. A sprinter on the school's track team, Thomas has run a 10.6 100 meters. Williams comes from storied Concord De La Salle High in Brentwood, Calif., where as a senior he finished with 42 receptions for 985 yards and 10 touchdowns. His high school team was ranked No. 1 in California and was ranked in the top-10 nationally in several different polls in 2011. UNLV, which was largely unsettled at quarterback for the duration of the 2011 season, is also hoping for big things from quarterback James Boyd, a mid-year JC signee who played at West Los Angeles College last year after initially signing with USC. Boyd is the third former Trojan QB to make his way to Las Vegas, following Jason Thomas (2000-02) and Rocky Hinds (2006). Out of high school in 2008, Boyd's accolades included SuperPrep All-American, PrepStar All-American, USA Today All-USA second team, EA Sports All-American second team, Max Preps All-American second team, SuperPrep All-Farwest and PrepStar All-West.
Other Signees of Note: David Greene, RB; Parker Holloway, DE; Marc Philippi, DB; Ron Scroggins, OL.
Areas of Need: Offensive Line, Running Back, Defensive Line, Punter
Key Losses: Alvester Alexander, RB; John Hutchins, OL; Clayton Kirven, OL; Josh Biezuns, DL; Tashaun Gipson, DB; Brian Hendricks, LB; Gabe Knapton, DL; Austin McCoy, P
Recruiting Highlights: While head coach Dave Christensen has never signed a large number of junior college players, he feels like the three student-athletes he signed this year can provide some immediate help in two areas -- the offensive and defensive lines -- where the Cowboys lost longtime starters to graduation. Among the top-rated individual players in Wyoming's class are junior college transfers Justin Bernthaler from Fullerton Community College in California and Connor Rains from American River Community College in California. JCGridiron.Rivals.com ranked Bernthaler No. 2 in the nation in its rankings of junior college weakside defensive ends, and ranked Rains as the No. 17 best junior college offensive tackle in the country. Rains earned 2011 California Community College All-America honors. Trent Sewell, a wide receiver from Bothell, Wash., was ranked by Rivals.com as the eighth- best recruit in the state of Washington at all positions. Both Rivals and ESPN ranked Sewell as the No. 1 wide receiver recruit in Washington. Though he was also a standout defensive back as a senior at Federal Way High in Federal Way, Wash. (earning first-team Associated Press Class 4A All-State honors), D.J. May is projected as a running back for the Cowboys after rushing for 1,320 yards and 18 touchdowns last season. Tim Gleeson, a native of Melbourne, Australia, gets a shot at taking over the punting duties from Austin McCoy. Gleeson comes to Wyoming after training at Prokick Australia. He was trained by Nathan Chapman, a former Australian Football League player who also punted briefly for the Green Bay Packers. Of the 23 signees announced, over fifty percent of the recruits -- 12 total -- hail from the states of California, Washington and Oregon. In addition, the Cowboys signed one player each from Hawai'i and Arizona.
Other Signees of Note: Sam Awrabi, DE.