This used to be the biggest day of the recruiting calendar but instead it has turned into something of an encore to the December signing day. The Mean Green are looking to fill out the class with some playmakers at best and some roster depth at worst.
The recruiting saga in the last two months have seen committers and defectors and changes in Official Visits by highly-regarded recruits. This is the way of things. This little site maintains that this staff has done an excellent job — primarily on the offensive side — of identifying and developing contributors. There are still areas of improvement — the offensive line imploded in the final three games — but the jump from year one to year 2 was incredible.
Defensively, this blog has also maintained that there are fewer hidden gems on the side of the ball that requires speed, strength, and size. For all the attacking the NT defense did under solo Reffett, the pass rush was not fearsome when it counted — obvious passing downs. The NT defense needs pass rushers and has been sending out offers to any and everyone that could reasonably contribute to the cause.
This signing day looks like it could bring in some nice prospects but no one so obviously game-changing. That is not something to be overly concerned about considering the league’s best NFL prospect — UTSA’s Marcus Davenport — was not highly regarded when he signed. He then went on to nearly win games by himself — not to mention plague Mason Fine personally.
In the three recruiting cycles the Littrell staff has led, the defensive side of the ball has been plagued by bad luck along the DL. Bryce English is the most recent and most famous example. He was supposed to do what Demonte Hood did but more explosively. There were a couple of others who did not qualify that were supposed to be game-changing talent.
Injuries and disqualification. Some of that is luck and some is missing on high risk gambles (late summer offers to JUCO guys). Very few coaches can operate ideally and most have to take a flyer on a guy that was their third choice somewhere. Sometimes it works and others it doesn’t. This staff took such a flyer on Mason Fine and were (and are being) rewarded for it. Given the importance of the position, there is some slack to be given.
Eventually, NT will need to figure out the defense. It was better than the raw number suggest but third downs and passing downs are vital. No one can or should expect the offense to consistently win games 48-45 next season. There were many lessons to be gleaned from the Super Bowl but perhaps the most important was that the Philadelphia fearsome pass rush made a timely and game-winning play and New England’s mediocre rush did not.
More to come here on MGN as we watch NSD.