What Each Team Needs in Season 20

LightningDragon · March 19, 2024

By: Cole Mantell (@lightningdragon)

It’s almost a seasonal tradition at this point that we look at what each team needs for recruiting in the offseason. For the 8th season in a row (since Season 13) I’ve looked through each team’s offseason needs and compiled the one (or in rare cases two or three) position group(s) a team would need to target.

As we enter Season 20 and a new era in the CFSL, we once again see a league in transition. 11 QBs graduate as seniors, and many more skill position players as well. We are seeing a transition of many kinds into Season 20. That means each team will be recruiting hard throughout the next few weeks to keep up with everyone else.

As always, this article only takes into account players who graduated as seniors this offseason. This article does not take into account players who transfer or graduate early. In addition, while Texas A&M and Michigan State entering the CFSL is exciting, it’d be boring just to say “everything” is what they need. So we will not include the expansion teams for Season 20 as usual. So without further ado:

Alabama Crimson Tide – Quarterback

We start again with the Crimson Tide. In what will be a common theme through this article as foreshadowed, 11 teams (at least) need a new QB for Season 20. Alabama, coming off their first season under AD David Ware’s return, will need to replace graduating QB Avery Ware. Alabama will have nine total graduations, including starters at HB, DT, and CB. But it is going to be a cutthroat season for recruiting a QB, and that is where the most attention will likely be in Tuscaloosa this offseason.

Auburn Tigers – Quarterback/Halfback

There are a lot of similarities in the Iron Bowl rivalry. Like Alabama, Auburn will also need to replace both their starting Quarterback and Halfback. Auburn under former AD Cole Mantell was a team that relied heavily on the pass-catching back, which was Storm Odie for all of his tenure. While Alabama has a 5-star HB still on the roster, Auburn does not. Linwood Faulk III has done well as the guy behind Odie, but he is a senior as well. So in addition to the importance of finding Baker Thomas’s successor, halfback will be almost as important to find the next star of the Tigers offense.

Baylor Bears – Cornerback

Baylor enjoyed a relatively successful first expansion season under freshman AD Braden Berry. The young team is losing only two seniors Dorian Hunter and Stone Williams. Given the run-heavy lean of the team, Halfback seemed the obvious answer. However, while that will be an important position for Baylor, CB is a more pressing need. The Bears only have one 5-star at the position of Jay Henry, plus two 4-stars. Whether it is through some training in the offseason for the current guys on the roster or a transfer to bring experience in, Baylor needs more talent on the back end of the defense to stop high passing offenses in and out of the Big XII. It will be easy to convince an HB to play in Waco after the seasons Carter, Hunter, and Davis just had. It will be much tougher to find a bona fide star at CB. Thus, that is why they are the biggest need for the Bears.

Cincinnati Bearcats – Quarterback

I know. I promise not every team on this list is going to have a quarterback as their biggest need. But with so many graduating, it’s going to come up a lot more this season than before. Cincinnati is another young team reloading for the future. The Bearcats only have three graduations. They are DT Anthony Dowell, SS Lance White, and most importantly QB Ludwig Friedman. Friedman is departing and leaving a huge hole to fill. He played an important role for the expansion team this season, and now Cincinnati AD Ryan Recca will have a big task in finding his replacement for Season 20.

Clemson Tigers – Halfback/Wide Receiver

Clemson is looking to build on a strong finish to Season 19, after finishing the season 2-2 from a 1-3 start. The Tigers will need a strong foundation on offense to support rising sophomore Luke Cannon. Seniors Duke Peterson and Bruce Roberson graduate, leaving holes at HB and WR to fill. It’ll be a makeover on offense for the Tigers this offseason, and while there are certain pieces in place returning, that’ll be the focus to build on. In addition, look for guys like WR Gage Tyson and TE Buck Hunter to have bigger offensive roles next season as the few remaining veterans in the room.

Colorado Buffaloes – Defensive Line

While the results aren’t quite there on the field yet for Skyler Shearer and his Colorado Buffaloes, a big positive is that Colorado will be the only CFSL team that will have zero graduating seniors to worry about this offseason. That cohesion will be crucial moving forward for the young team. Thus, instead of replacing guys, it’ll be all about reinforcements this offseason in Boulder. Defensive Line is the first place to start for the team. Colorado only had three players at the position group this season, and only 5 star DE Rui Lang was rated above a 3-star level. Building that up along with the rest of the defense will be crucial moving forward in the rough and tumble Big XII for Colorado.

Florida Gators – Defense

Florida, fresh off their first National Championship appearance, is one of a few teams that I will call the “Super Senior” teams. The Gators under former AD Justyn Veneklasen loaded up on seniors for one final run that was about a minute away from being successful. With Veneklasen out and a new AD incoming, the defense will be in dire need of talent replenishment. Of the 15 scholarship players on defense, 10 graduate as seniors on Florida this offseason. Simply put, they’re going to need a lot of work to keep that talent level at the same place next season. That isn’t even including multiple seniors on offense to replace as well. Every level of the defense will need new guys, so almost by default, expect Florida to be maybe the most active team this offseason in recruiting.

Florida State Seminoles – Wide Receiver

Just up the road, Florida State has a potentially much smoother offense ahead. Compared to Florida’s 16 seniors, the Seminoles only have 8 seniors graduating this offseason. However, half of those are HB Ronnie De La Rocha, WR James Newton, WR Draymond Shakur III, and WR Joshua Sims. That’s nearly the entire starting lineup on offense outside of Zeus Claydon. While replacing an HB will be tough, it is at WR where the need is most pressing this offseason. The three departing seniors leave only Sebastian Sapp as the remaining 5-star WR on the roster. Add on to that a graduating Perry Pushkaryov at TE, and the entire Seminoles offense will have a new look outside of Claydon in Season 20.

Georgia Bulldogs – Outside Linebacker

Georgia made the playoffs under first-year AD Gene Pettijohn, eventually losing in the first round to Miami. The team has only seven Seniors graduating, and the team will return QB Brandon Petty as well. Their biggest losses will be OLBs James Horton and Cristiano Valentine. While MLB Jad McPherson was an instant hit as a freshman, he’ll also have to step up and be the main guy in the middle of the Bulldog defense next season. However, improving depth not just at OLB, but on defense overall, seems to be the obvious strategy for improvement for Pettijohn and his staff this offseason. There’s never a moment of rest in the cutthroat SEC, as he learned already. But Georgia keeps more players than many fellow SEC squads, giving them somewhat of a head start for next season.

Illinois Fighting Illini – Safety

The obvious answer to what Illinois needs to replace in recruiting would be replacing Josiah Henry, right? Well, first off, replacing Henry is impossible. And secondly, I have a sneaking suspicion after the career Henry had at Illinois finding HBs eager to play in that system will not be difficult. Instead, the focus I think for AD Will Stephens will be at Safety. Three of the four safeties are on scholarship for the Fighting Illini graduate. That leaves only 3 star FS Deon Remy on the roster right now. While Illinois was an 8-1 team this season, they will have a lot of work to do at the Safety position nonetheless. Not to mention that Safety is usually one of the hardest positions for a coaching staff to recruit as well.

Kentucky Wildcats – Defensive Backs

There’s a dynasty to maintain in Lexington. Notre Dame and Oklahoma State have some company, as names depart and the Wildcats look to reload for next season. Kentucky will lose seven Seniors this offseason, headlined by QB Mateo Walker. However, while Walker departs, similar to Illinois I think Kentucky won’t have too much trouble finding QBs willing to play for them. Also similar to Illinois, Kentucky will lose a ton of talent to graduation on defense. Specifically for Kentucky, it will be at CB and S where they’ll lose two big playmakers each. CBs Rick Koon and Kelvin Diggs graduate, along with Safeties Manti Delano and Drake Masters. That is a lot of production to replace, even with the dynasty status in tow. CB Teddy Legend had an awesome freshman season, and he’ll need to do more in a bigger role starting next season too.

LSU Tigers – Linebacker

Every season there are always a few teams with serious questions at only a few positions when it comes to recruiting. That includes LSU this season at Linebacker. Again, we have another QB graduation here in Charlie Sammons. But for LSU, the graduations of Jameson Weinrich and Tay Langton mean that there will be as of right now exactly zero rostered linebackers. Now, LSU had a great season and AD Derek Hawkins is one of the best recruiters in the CFSL. But that doesn’t mean it won’t be hard to find guys to replace household names. LSU will have the advantage of being able to focus on relatively fewer seniors, especially compared to last season whereas an expansion team Hawkins had to build an entire team from scratch. There is no Kentucky to raid this season, now is where the real fun begins for the staff.

Miami Hurricanes – Offense

We’ll start with the good news. Miami has only eight total graduations this offseason. Of those, many are at positions with replacements ready to go on the roster, especially on defense. And Miami just had a season for the ages where if they could’ve just won two more games, they’d be one of the most dominant champions in CFSL history. Of course, in reality, Miami lost by 7 to eventual champion Kentucky. And they’ll lose their QB, their top 4 WRs, and their starting TE. And the backup Tight End, Zay Ryan, is also a rising senior. Oh yeah, and those WRs are only some of the best WRs in CFSL history as well. Miami has never been afraid to throw the ball, dating to well before AD George Yost got there. But no matter what offense they adjust to next season, Miami is building from almost zero here, and it is one of the most fascinating stories to watch this offseason.

Michigan Wolverines – Halfback

The Wolverines have 10 Seniors graduating this offseason. That includes big names such as WR Blake Xander Martel, MLB Axel Holgersen, and CB Daemon Ike. However, at every position except HB, Michigan has at least a plausible person on the roster to play a bigger role next season. To make matters worse, many teams need a starting HB next season. With QB Greg Cooksey a rising senior, Michigan AD Aaron Eichenberg will have one shot to support Cooksey as he finishes his career in Ann Arbor. Other positions will be tough to replace too, as mentioned. Specifically, WR, MLB, and CB are big concerns. But Michigan can count on some guys to help there and a strong recruiting team. Now finding a star HB to replace RaQ Rhodes? That’ll be a much tougher task.

North Carolina Tar Heels – Outside Linebacker

Again, I’m going against the easy pick with this team. North Carolina will lose HB Rocco Rambo and WR Deebo Banks to graduation. Those are both big pieces for a team that needs depth. But while Stan Free is the future at MLB, he returns as the only linebacker left after Destiny Buss graduates. That’s a big part of the defense in dire need of upgrades. Free is no slouch defensively, but even in a 4-2-5 defense that is very popular around the CFSL right now, having three competent (if not great) linebackers is a huge part of a team. North Carolina has the pieces to build around, but depth in general is the focus for the team in recruiting this offseason.

Notre Dame Fighting Irish – Everything

Yes, I know I’ve used this line before. I’m going to be honest here, I have no other idea how else to explain what Notre Dame needs this offseason. For those not in the know, a CFSL team in Season 19 could have between 26-28 players on scholarship, depending on different recruiting factors. For Notre Dame, that meant of 27 registered scholarship players, 20 would be graduating Seniors this season. Remember the “Super Senior” strategy from the Florida blurb? This is that taken to the extreme. Notre Dame isn’t replacing the sink, they’re replacing the whole kitchen. Scratch that, they’re replacing the whole condo complex. On the bright side, Notre Dame AD Dustin Hall is a great recruiter and will have no problem promising playing time to recruits. For a former dynasty in a reload, that’s very valuable.

Ohio State Buckeyes – Quarterback

Ohio State AD Zach Davis has a good situation heading into Season 20. The Buckeyes have only three graduations, and despite the 2-6 record this season, enter next season with a young and hungry team. The three graduates are QB Brantley Guaci, DE Titus Law, and CB Billy Jude. All three were big contributors, but obviously, Guaci will be the toughest to replace. Guaci might not have won awards, but he was an efficient and productive QB at every spot in his career. Ohio State has two young HBs Elliott Manning and Emily Davis (both rising Sophomores). With a balanced offense that seems to be Davis’s calling card, the next QB coming into this situation will have a lot to work with. This could be a team to watch take the next steps starting this offseason, just because the foundation is already in place.

Oklahoma State Cowboys – Offense

Like the few other teams going through a new AD coming in, we can talk about the graduations, but we already know for example in this case Oklahoma State is losing DE Owen Moreland. However, this is also a pretty simple case for the Cowboys in what their biggest need is. Oklahoma State has their QB, only HB, two WRs, and starting TE all graduating. While Billi Hendrix, Marcelo Souza, and Landon Adams will all be returning at WR, the rest of the offense will need some talent. At the very least if the Cowboys stick with those 3 WRs and TE Clark Stiles, Oklahoma State will need a new QB and at least one new HB. Again, this is all before taking into account any transfers. New Oklahoma State AD Logan Mitchell will have his hands full in the quest for his first career win.

Oregon Ducks – Safety

What a turnaround for Oregon this season. After a rough offseason, Oregon came out swinging, with an interim AD leading the Ducks to a 5-3 record before a first-round loss to Texas. Oregon is still running strong entering Season 20 as well, with only five graduations. Unfortunately, three of those are at either cornerback or safety. With Benny Trill and Drew Caleb graduating, only 4-star FS Brian Singletary remains on the roster right now. Oregon will have to work hard to recruit at maybe the toughest position to recruit to keep up with the Big 10. On the bright side, Oregon’s young and talented roster leaves them primed for an even larger breakout next season, especially with a young QB in the face of so many other teams losing their QBs to graduation.

Penn State Nittany Lions – Linebacker

The Nittany Lions did more with less in their expansion season under returning AD TJ Smith. Smith had one of the smallest rosters in terms of size for playoff teams this season. Despite that, a strong showing in their first year is going to lead to recruiting dividends this offseason as Smith and his staff look to replace talent and fill out the roster more. With both Kirby Sierra and Brendan Fowler graduating, the team only has one linebacker on the roster to start the offseason. That’ll be the first spot Penn State needs to focus on to replenish talent. The team had a great start, now it will be all about moving up the proverbial ladder in the Big 10.

Pittsburgh Panthers – Tight End

Pittsburgh continues to be one of the most fascinating squads in the CFSL, year after year. When most teams in recent seasons pass, the Panthers attempt as many running plays as anyone. When teams look to get bigger at WR, the Panthers crucially invest in the Tight End spot. This offseason, Pittsburgh loses two great 5-star TEs, Darius Harris and Dave Dawkins. The team has carried at least 2 (if not 3) Tight Ends as a crucial part of their offensive game-planning for a few seasons now. Expect Pittsburgh, with relatively few graduations elsewhere, to focus here first.

Syracuse Orange – Safety

One of the downsides of being later in this yearly article is the feeling of repeating myself. Syracuse deserves much better than that, though their struggles this offseason are similar to many other expansion teams in their position. Syracuse AD Andrew Brandt has built an impressive foundation, headed off by a huge rivalry week win over Penn State this season. The Orange are a balanced, dangerous team at their best. And like many other teams, they’ll lose a few safeties among their few graduations on the young team. Syracuse’s biggest opportunity is that they’re in a relatively top-heavy ACC. It’s their biggest barrier as well. But with Notre Dame completely rebuilding, at least one of the three spots seems open for the taking. Syracuse has the talent already in place to make a run for it.

Tennessee Volunteers – Quarterback

Much credit to Tennessee AD CJ Furman. He came into the hardest situation of any team in the CFSL and has built a competitive team trying to right the sins of Tennessee teams’ past. Still, the Volunteers are heading into Season 20 looking for a win. They’re close to not just a win, and that’s good news for the young squad. The Volunteers’ only graduation was senior QB Kyson Carey. That makes QB the biggest need by default for this article, and it is a big need for sure. But look for Tennessee again to improve depth throughout the roster and to lock down the fort. Call it a bold prediction or just luck finally turning the right way in Knoxville, but this squad has much more than just one win in their next season.

Texas Longhorns – Defensive End

Again, we are only looking at graduations in this article, but like Oklahoma State, there are some outside questions for the team. With AD Justin Duke heading to Auburn, Texas will now get a new AD in Ryan Moreland. We know Owen Moreland is coming in to replace one of the two graduating DEs, but that still leaves one spot open. Maybe DE Travis Hurd stays on, or maybe that spot comes from outside the team. But despite spots on offense to fill, the defensive end is still the biggest question mark for a team built on defense under Duke’s leadership. Even if the answer is simple, the question is now of production, not talent for the team. Can they repeat said production? Only the new AD and his coaching staff will have that answer.

USC Trojans – Tight End

What a first season back in the CFSL for the USC Trojans. Under AD Jacob Cobb, the Trojans made it to the Semifinals in their first season back, losing to runner-up Florida in the Rose Bowl. Similar to fellow BIG 10 rival Penn State, USC is a young, up-and-coming team with few graduations. Only 4 for the Trojans in this case. While the roster is still on the smaller side in terms of numbers and filling depth will be important, the only position of note with a big hole entering this offseason is Tight End. TE Robbie Legg was a star, and now only one TE (4-star Jordan Drapal) remains on the roster at the moment. USC has often run two TE sets as well, so even if Drapal is going to take a bigger role next season, the team is going to recruit heavily at the position. Don’t be surprised if Cobb and his staff bring in two TEs instead of one here. That along with some more depth on the roster can be the difference next season for the Trojans.

West Virginia Mountaineers – Cornerback

Mike Peters on the Championship Pre-Game Show for this season ominously pointed out that the Big XII only has one Athletic Director with more than one season under their belt in the conference now. That’s WVU AD Nathan Murphy, returning to a young squad that is poised to make noise next season. The team had five graduations, including crucial ones at HB and WR. But with both Alex Bernard and Moe Black graduating, CB is the first spot to look at for the Mountaineers. Murphy is no stranger to recruiting, and this is another team a few pieces away from making some real noise. The Mountaineers crucially return QB Gunnar Rice, a fact that gives them a leg up on the numerous teams looking for a QB at the moment.


Join the CFSL. Create your legacy.

Get Started