LSU Football: Updating the 5 Best Spring Football Battles
While most other college football programs across the country are just beginning their spring practice sessions, LSU is slightly ahead of the curve.
Les Miles' team held its final practice of the spring this past Thursday and wrapped up their annual spring game on Saturday.
Coming off an undefeated regular season and SEC Championship in 2011, the Tigers will have huge expectations heading into this college football season. Of course, they also face the challenge of replacing a number of talented seniors that will be playing on Sundays now.
There were plenty of new faces in key positions for the Tigers this spring, but what are the most competitive position battles to keep an eye on?
Let's break down LSU's five best spring football battles going on.
Bleacher Report Style!
Rueben Randle was one of the top receivers in college football last season, but you wouldn't know it because LSU's quarterback play was so poor at times last year.
Randle made the choice to leave early for the NFL, which leaves Russell Shepard and Odell Beckham Jr. as the likely replacements. However, Shepard, who was a highly touted prospect out of high school, has failed to live up to expectations thus far and will need to work for a starting spot in this offense.
Beckham Jr., on the other hand, was not a highly touted prospect, but impressed coaches last year in his freshman season and was speculator when he got the chance to play.
But what makes this position battle interesting is that it doesn't stop there. Jarvis Landry and Kadron Boone are both young receivers with a ton of talent, and both should get a look for a starting nod in the upcoming season.
This position battle could play out a number of ways, the only hope here for this group is that this year's LSU team airs it out a little more than last year's team did.
They certainly have the weapons to do so.
There isn't a deeper backfield throughout college football then the one you'll find in Baton Rouge.
The Tigers featured a four-headed monster at running back last season and all four should be returning in 2012.
Spencer Ware, Michael Ford, Alfred Blue and Kenny Hilliard combined to run for more than 2,300 yards and 30 rushing touchdowns last season. But will one of them establish themselves as the lead back this season, or will they continue to share carries throughout the year?
Right now it looks like Ford and Ware could battle for the lead back spot, while Hilliard handles the goal line carries, but that could all change, especially with the emergence of Blue back there as well.
It will be interesting to see how this all plays out, but one thing is for sure—this isn't a bad problem to have.
That's for certain.
If you thought the Tigers were deep at running back, they might be even deeper on the offensive line next season.
Between La'El Collins, Josh Williford, Matt Branch, Josh Dworaczyk and standout freshman Vadal Alexander, only two of them can start at guard, which will make for a very interesting position battle this year.
Collins was a mega recruit two years ago when he arrived at LSU. The big, talented prospect sat and learned behind Will Blackwell last season and he seems to be ready for one of those spots. But the other then is completely up for grabs.
This may not be the most exciting position to pay attention to, but in terms of how close it is, this could be the most interesting one to watch this offseason.
One of LSU's many strengths last year was on that dominant defensive line.
However, with Michael Brockers off to the NFL, there is a spot open at one of those defensive tackle positions, and there are plenty of worthy candidates waiting in the wings to fill it.
Sophomore Anthony Johnson looks like the early favorite, but expect to see both Josh Downs and Ego Ferguson push for that spot as well.
Downs is a senior who wants to start in his final year at LSU and Ferguson is a talented youngster with great size needed to plug holes on the interior of that defensive line.
This should be a great position battle, but in the end, all three of those guys should see the field in 2012.
The one spot on this defense that was loaded with senior talent last season was at linebacker.
Stefoin Francois, Ryan Baker and Karnell Hatcher are all gone, but that leaves a wide open opportunity for youngsters like Tahj Jones to take over the starting outside linebacker spot.
Kevin Minter returns and will be the leader of this unit at middle linebacker, but both outside spots are wide open.
As mentioned, Tahj Jones should be a favorite to take over one of those spots. He showed promise in limited playing time last season, but his size and speed combination make him an ideal candidate to takeover there.
Lamin Barrow, Luke Muncie and a number of talented incoming freshmen could battle for that last outside linebacker spot.
This should be a great position battle to follow because we didn't get to see all the freshman play in Saturday's spring game.