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November 23, 2012

Teams around country ready to shop

MORE: Vols must fill job, hit recruiting trail

Dallas Jackson is the National Columnist for Rivals.com. Email him your comments or story ideas to DallasJ@Yahoo-Inc.com and follow him on Twitter.
All Tennessee athletic director Dave Hart wants this Christmas is the right head football coach.

He knows just what he is looking for, too: a coach with a successful past, a recruiting pedigree in the SEC and the integrity to carry the program through an extended probation period.

"The profile is one that you would expect it to be," Hart said. "Some of the people we will approach, they won't want to engage until their season is over. Some people have a false sense that we are late. We are not. We are fine. I have done this many times. People need to take a deep breath. The door is not closing on our opportunities to find the right person."

Hart will be combing through resumes as though they were stuffed into the newspaper, whetting the appetite for the rush of Black Friday shoppers.

The problem is that Hart, like all those camping outside of the annual hotspots, will be in competition for this year's big-ticket items.

Arkansas and Kentucky are looking for a similar type of man to fill head coaching vacancies. Auburn, Boston College and California might be joining the group.

Tennessee is searching for its fourth head coach in six years, making this hire all the more important for the program.

"We need stability," Hart said. "But we need to find stability through a process that we are engaged in now. We have challenges. We have some competitive disadvantages that have been identified, that everyone on our campus has been working to overcome together. We have some academic competitive disadvantages that we are eliminating. These are all historical in nature. This has been the case for some time. We are now beginning to address and rectify some of those disadvantages that are real in nature."

The frustration from the fans is becoming palpable, and the hunger for a proven winner could force Hart to spend more than he wants for another coach. Then again, the school's chancellor recently made it clear he's willing to help make ends meet.

Topping the wish list of the fans is ESPN analyst Jon Gruden, along with Jimbo Fisher and Al Golden. Fisher and Golden have head coaching positions at Florida State and Miami, respectively.

Hart said he knows just where to look for the right hire.

"I have been doing this a long time. I have done a number (of coaching searches)," Hart said. "It is a pretty important hire. I think any leadership position hire is critically important."

Tennessee is not the only school with a wish list; here is a look at other programs around the country that have needs and what they are shopping for:

Alabama has a wish list like none other, and it can climb back to the No. 1 recruiting class with a strong finish. Landing some combination of Laremy Tunsil, Robert Foster, and Alvin Kamara on the offensive side of the ball, or flipping the commitments of USC's Jalen Ramsey, Auburn's Dee Liner and Florida State's Marquez White, would go a long way. And if that isn't enough, Antonio Conner, Vonn Bell and Mackensie Alexander remain on the hot list for the Tide.
It's no secret that Frank Spaziani is on the hot seat, so if there's a coaching change it would probably be better to find someone sooner rather than later. That will be the key if the Eagles are to hold onto their top commitments and have a chance to land other important recruits before Signing Day. Defensive tackle Tevin Montgomery and wide receiver Dionte Taylor would be huge late additions.
Iowa is without a running back commit in this class, and the top target for some time had been Berkley Edwards from Michigan. However, the Hawkeyes recently pulled their offer. The other major need is at defensive end, where the program lost four-star David Kenney, who flipped to Indiana last month. No top targets have emerged to replace him.
Iowa State is shopping for offensive linemen and has active offers in play to high school and junior college prospects; it would take one of each if it can get the right guys. The Cyclones are checking out the wide receiver aisle for some finds, and they would make room for a couple more defenders, such as JUCO defensive lineman Rodney Coe and linebacker Samson Faifili.
K-State is looking for a defense. No, it is not just because of that hard-to-explain loss at Baylor, but because the Wildcats return just two starters on defense for 2013. And yes, if you're a junior college defender who is talented, answer your phone. Bill Snyder is calling.
Defense. It's what the Warhawks will be out shopping for on Black Friday. Linebackers Nick Akins, Claude George and Caleb Tucker would all be high on their list. Sprinkle in defensive backs David Thiel, Kieron Williams and possibly Trevor Walker and 2013 could be special class for ULM.
The Cardinals' wish list starts with local Louisville (Ky.) Trinity wide receiver James Quick. The track sprinter with great hands has Louisville at the top of his list, along with Ohio State, Cincinnati, Oregon and Kentucky. The Cardinals would also like to flip his teammate, defensive end Jason Hatcher, from USC. Beyond the Trinity stars, Louisville needs to bring in at least four defensive linemen between now and Signing Day.
The Hurricanes' recruiting wish list is generic. They need all they can get on the defensive side of the ball. Miami has had one of the worst defenses in the country this year and is badly in need of help on the line and in the secondary. In talent-rich South Florida, it is hard to imagine the team being in such a bad place with players, but with Florida and Florida State in the Top 10 nationally and potential sanctions about to hammer the program, this recruiting class could be a lump of coal.
On the defensive line the Spartans are looking to add junior college tackle Kyle Peko of Cerritos College in California. The 6-foot-3, 290-pound Peko has already officially visited both Michigan State and Nebraska. He plans on tripping to Utah and Washington before making his college decision. On the offensive line the Spartans would like add Detroit Cass Tech standout David Dawson. The 6-foot-4, 285-pound Dawson was initially committed to Michigan but opted to take some visits and the Wolverines subsequently pulled his scholarship. Dawson has narrowed his choices down to Michigan State, Ohio State and Wisconsin. Dawson teammate on the offensive line, Dennis Finley, is already committed to Michigan State.
Minnesota has two positions of need to fill between now and Signing Day -- while it continues to search for Big Ten-level talent at every position. As for need, the Gophers will try to find their next Marion Barber or Laurence Maroney at the running back position. At the top of the wish list is Chelsea (Mich.) three-star Edwards, followed by Kareem Hunt. The Gophers also need linebackers. Minnesota appears to be targeting four for the class of 2013 -- Duke Riley, Rayfield Dixon, De'Niro Laster and Jonathan Walton.
Nebraska's Blackshirt defense is shaping up to be pretty salty for next season, but the one missing ingredient is quality line depth. The Huskers staff is searching for recruits in the junior college ranks who have the capability to compete for immediate playing time, possibly even to start. In its last two home games of the season, NU hosted several JUCO defensive tackles on official visits, and it hopes to sign two or three to the 2013 class.
For the Fighting Irish, it comes down to a handful of elite prospects, starting with Laquon Treadwell and Max Redfield. Treadwell, the nation's No. 1 receiver, has said he'll likely officially visit after the season. Redfield, the top safety and former USC commitment, has the Irish on top with Oregon. Notre Dame already has a great recruiting class. Now Brian Kelly has a chance to make it a historic haul to match a historic season.
Penn State desperately needs to add a JUCO quarterback for the spring, and Bill O'Brien's sights are set on Jake Waters from Iowa Western Community College. With only Steven Bench on the roster for the spring, the Nittany Lions will take at least one JUCO QB, and Waters would undoubtedly be the prize.
The Panthers crossed one player off their wish list when four-star offensive tackle Dorian Johnson of Belle Vernon (Pa.) committed last weekend. That leaves two other elite local recruits: receivers Tyler Boyd and Foster. Like Johnson, they fit a position of need for Pitt. The Panthers must close Boyd and Foster to make Paul Chryst's first full class an impact class.
Rutgers heads into the holiday season hoping to land the one thing that the team's nationally ranked defense desperately needs: A big time threat on the edge. They would love to fill that need with Ramsey (N.J.) Don Bosco defensive end Al-Quadin Muhammad. The four-star playmaker is among the state's top recruits and would make for a stellar end to the Scarlet Knights' recruiting class. Joining former teammate Darius Hamilton could be quite tempting.
SMU has one primary wish, and that's Dallas (Texas) Kimball five-star shooting guard Keith Frazier. The 6-foot-5, 185-pound guard is not only a top-25 player in the country who would be the diamond of an already impressive first recruiting class for head coach Larry Brown, but he is a local kid. There is the thought among fans that Frazier could be the player who will open the fertile recruiting base of Dallas to the Mustangs after they have been shut out for a long time.
Stanford won't be signing a large recruiting class in 2013 but still has several positions of need to fill. The Card already have a commitment from one of the nation's top receivers in Westlake Village (Calif.) Oaks Christian four-star Francis Owusu but covet several other athletic perimeter playmakers. Defensively, Stanford would love to add an athletic defensive back or two to its surprisingly much-improved secondary.
It is a long shopping list because the Orange need a lot of help on the offensive line, at wide receiver and at defensive end. The options for the offensive line seem thin, but the Orange have had a knack for landing receivers late in the game. A couple of players at the defensive end spot who could help are Al-Quadin Muhammad and Ebenezer Ogundeko.
Wake set the foundation for its 2013 recruiting class in June and July, but it still has areas of need. The Demon Deacons have sights set on offensive tackle Shawn Curtis, defensive back Marcus Davis, running back Marquez Grayson and defensive end Jaylen Miller. All are three-star recruits, and they would make for a solid class.
Keeping the current soft commits on board is the No. 1 priority, and it looks like the Huskies will do that for the most part. The defensive line is a priority, and Austin Hooper and Joe Mathis are two of the top targets. Having one of the best recruiters in the conference in-house could make for well-decked halls.
Wazzu has had a rough season due to a lack of depth at various positions, most notably the offensive and defensive lines. The Cougs' wishes for the next two months lies within two offensive lineman and a defensive lineman: four-star defensive tackle Marquel Combs (JUCO), three-star offensive linemen David Knevel and Jacob Seydel (JUCO). Mike Leach and company need big bodies that can immediately come in to shore up an area of concern while allowing the younger talent that he's brought in to redshirt and grow within the program. Landing any combination of this trio -- or all three -- will go a long ways toward immediately impacting next years team while harboring some talent in the trenches for the future.
Western Kentucky is still searching for its first four-star commit in 2012. After narrowly missing out on four-star OLB Freddie Stevenson and ATH Rashard Fant, the Toppers are still in the mix for a few four-star talents, including one of their top targets, Lakewood HS four-star wideout Rodney Adams. Adams has an official visit to WKU scheduled for Dec. 7.
Head coach Bret Bielema would love to add verbal commitments from quarterback John O'Korn, stealing him from Houston, and defensive tackle Kenton Gibbs. The Badgers would also love to add at least one more quality offensive lineman to round out this 2013 recruiting class.

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