We are nearing the end of February, and that means it's just about time to start looking ahead to spring football.
Les Miles' LSU football team lost a ton of talent this season with seniors graduating and juniors declaring early for the 2013 NFL Draft.
Because of that, there is sure to be plenty of great position battles to keep an eye on this spring.
Who takes over for Barkevious Mingo and Sam Montgomery at defensive end? Does Jeremy Hill remain the Tigers' lead back with Alfred Blue coming back from his season-ending injury?
Let's find out right here as we provide five intriguing position battles to watch for this spring.
Bleacher Report Style!
Does LSU go with the young, talented back who filled in so admirably last season?
Or, does LSU go with the veteran back who led the Tigers in rushing before suffering a season-ending injury?
Wow, what a good dilemma to have.
Alfred Blue was exceptional last season before his injury. He rushed for 270 yards and two touchdowns before going down with a knee injury in Week 3 of the regular season.
When Blue went down, freshman Jeremy Hill stepped in and took over as the Tigers' lead back. He was outstanding for LSU, rushing for a team-best 755 yards and 12 touchdowns.
Those two should compete for the starting tailback job this season, as well as junior-to-be Kenny Hilliard, who ranked second on the Tigers in both rushing yards (464) and rushing touchdowns (six).
This should be a great position battle to keep an eye on this spring and heading into the summer and fall.
This is the one position where there are at least three legitimate candidates who could start for LSU this fall.
The best part about it is, not one of these players have any type of step up on one another heading into fall camp.
Travis Dickson, DeSean Smith and Logan Stokes all should have a fair shot at winning the starting tight end spot this fall.
Dickson had the most action of the three last season, hauling in six catches for 73 yards.
Smith and Stokes are both members of the Tigers' impressive 2013 recruiting class.
Smith is a 4-star recruit and the No. 2-ranked tight end prospect in the nation, according to Rivals.com. He is a complete package, with great size (6'4" 225 pounds) and pass-catching ability.
Stokes is a 3-star recruit (via Rivals), but he is a transfer from Northeast Mississippi Community College, and has already enrolled early at LSU. That should give him an early leg up on Smith in spring ball.
Either way, this figures to be an exceptional tight end position battle with three worthy candidates. You gotta love that if your Les Miles.
The tight end position may be the best battle of the spring, but there's no doubt about it, the defensive end position is the most depleted spot on LSU's roster.
Barkevious Mingo is gone. Sam Montgomery is gone. Lavar Edwards, last year's backup DE, is gone as well.
That leaves an inexperienced group to compete for both open defensive end spots.
There are four players that will likely be in the mix for these two starting defensive end spots, and two of them are true freshmen.
Frank Herron and Kendell Beckwith are both mega recruits who have the talent to play right away at the college level.
The other two players likely vying for starting spots will be Jemauria Rasco, a junior-to-be, and Danielle Hunter, a redshirt freshmen.
This should be a great competition.
After a breakout junior season, we know that Craig Loston has one of these safety spots locked up.
But with Eric Reid bolting early for the NFL, who will fill that other safety spot?
That is the million dollar question heading into fall camp, and the spot is certainly open for competition.
Right now, it looks like there are three potential candidates who could fill this spot: Ronald Martin, Micah Eugene and Jerqwinick Sandolph.
Martin and Eugene both saw the field last season in backup duty, and both played well enough to get their fair shot at this open spot.
Sandolph is a kid who impressed coaches on the scout team last year and should get his shot as well.
If any of these candidates can play even close to the level that Eric Reid did for this LSU team in 2012, then Les Miles' defense should be in good hands going forward.
Now that Kevin Minter is off to the NFL, who will fill the void at middle linebacker for the Tigers?
There are several scenarios here, and really, this thing could play out any number of ways.
Ronnie Fiest appeared in just two games as a true freshman last season, but he was impressive when given the chance to play, and throughout practice. He is one of the leading candidates to take over this middle linebacker spot.
Another possibility is that LSU's leading returning tackler, Lamin Barrow, slides over from outside linebacker to inside linebacker. That would leave Kwon Alexander at one outside linebacker spot, and possibly Tahj Jones at the other, if he gets on the good side of the LSU coaching staff.
Lamar Louis and Deion Jones are two other young guys to keep an eye on in camp. Both are great athletes, but will likely stay on the outside.
Either way, this linebacking core is as good as any in the country.