Stanford Football: Updating the 5 Best Spring Football Battles

Nikhil BaradwajSenior Analyst IApril 4, 2012

Stanford Football: Updating the 5 Best Spring Football Battles

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    With the college basketball season ending with Kentucky cutting down the nets in New Orleans, our focus heads back to the upcoming college football season.

    It is never too early to discuss college football. With spring practice in full spring, many teams from major conferences are looking to build on the successes and fix the failures of the past season.

    Last season, the Stanford Cardinal were oh-so-close to earning their second-straight BCS bowl victory, but fell short to a strong Oklahoma State squad.

    The Cardinal will face major losses on offense, losing Heisman runner-up Andrew Luck, two top offensive lineman in Jonathan Martin and David DeCastro, and tight end Coby Fleener, just to name a few.

    Young players need to step up if the Cardinal hope to contend in the rugged Pac-12, where Oregon and USC look to be legitimate national championship contenders.

    Here are the top five position battles for the Cardinal this spring.

Quarterback

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    With the loss of Heisman runner-up Andrew Luck to the NFL draft, quarterback is the biggest question mark for the Cardinal.

    Two frontrunners, junior Brett Nottingham and senior Josh Nunes, have emerged, with Nottingham having the most experience.

    Head coach David Shaw still has not made a decision, and one will likely not be made during spring practice.

Right Guard and Left Tackle

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    Beyond a new heir to Andrew Luck, Stanford will need to revamp its offensive line. Jonathan Martin and David DeCastro are both sure-fire, first-round round picks in this year's NFL Draft and will be sorely missed. 

    But Stanford did sign a vaunted offensive-line class, which includes Andrus Peat, Kyle Murphy and Brandon Fanaikas, all top lineman in 2012.

    Several players will be competing for the right guard and left tackle positions, as David Yankey, Sam Schwartzstein and Cameron Fleming return.

    Do not expect a decision at either of these positions by the end of spring practice, and look for the freshman class to factor into the race.

Safeties

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    The safety positions are also up for grabs, according to Jon Wilner of the San Jose Mercury News. Nailing down both the strong and free safety positions is imperative, as these players often act as the quarterback of the defense.

    Devon Carrington and Jordan Richard seem to be the frontrunners currently, but Ed Reynolds will be making a push as he recovers from his torn ACL.

    Defensive coordinator Derek Mason believes that a decision will not be made until August, with four-star athlete Alex Carter possibly challenging these three for a spot.

    Like the right guard and left tackle positions, these positions are still in flux.

Wide Receiver

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    Last season, the Cardinal did not have that go-to wide receiver on the perimeter to help Andrew Luck reach new heights. In fact, Coby Fleener, Stanford's talented tight end who will be drafted between Rounds 1 and 3, was the team's leading receiver.

    The new quarterback will need to form a strong relationship with the new receiving corps if the Cardinal are to succeed.

    Stanford speedster Chris Owusu does graduate, leaving more than 10 wide receivers who will look to crack the starting lineup.

    Four-star athlete Alex Carter could challenge for a role at wide receiver. Kelsey Young, originally a running back, also might get some reps as a receiver, according to coach David Shaw.