LSU Football: 5 Most Important Spring Practice Position Battles

Jake Martin@JakeMartinSECCorrespondent IIIMarch 15, 2013

LSU Football: 5 Most Important Spring Practice Position Battles

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    The LSU Tigers have a special position battle brewing in the backfield.

    The Tigers are never short of talent at the running back position. This year is no different with Alfred Blue returning from injury and Jeremy Hill coming off a sensational freshman season.

    Though this might be the most appealing duel for a starting role, it might not be the most important this spring.

    Here are five position battles to keep an eye on.

5. Offensive Tackle

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    Like Florida and Georgia last season, LSU may have to start a freshman at the tackle position this season.

    That is, of course, if Ethan Pocic wins the job as a true freshman. He certainly has a head start after enrolling early and participating in spring ball this spring.

    However, he'll have to beat out redshirt freshman Jerald Hawkins. Judging strictly off each man's hype gathered through the recruiting circuit, Pocic is the favorite.

    Hawkins was a composite 3-star offensive lineman coming out of high school, while Pocic was a composite 4-star, according to 247Sports.

    Star ratings are just star ratings though, and Hawkins enters spring training with a slight edge after getting a full year to learn the offense and refine his tools under the coaching staff.

4. Tight End

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    Travis Dickson was hardly a factor for LSU last season. It wasn't his fault, though.

    Here's to hoping Cam Cameron utilizes the tight end in LSU's passing game (fingers crossed). But even if Cameron decides to implement more tight end sets, Dickson's starting job isn't guaranteed.

    Before he can become the focal part of the offense, he has to win the starting position first. Standing in his way is true freshman DeSean Smith.

    Smith, the No. 68 national recruit per Rivals, is a 4-star athlete with incredible athletic ability.

    Though he's coming to campus with a lot of hype behind him, Smith is going to have to outshine Dickson this spring if he wants to be a starter this fall.

    Easier said than done.

3. Linebacker

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    Linebacker is an intriguing position battle for the Tigers to say the least.

    More specifically, it'll be interesting to see which linebacker starts at the "Sam" position.

    Lamin Barrow and Deion Jones are expected to start at the "Mike" and "Will" position, respectively. And although Ronnie Feist and Lorenzo Phillips might put up a battle for both positions, Tahj Jones' starting position at the Sam is in the most danger of being replaced. 

    Jones has the advantage of regaining his starting position because of the seniority factor, but Kwon Alexander might just be the better overall athlete.

    Defensive coordinator John Chavis loves speed at the outside linebacker position, and with Alexander's ability to track down running backs in the backfield, he may steal Jones' starting position.

2. Running Back

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    Who will be the featured back?

    Will it be Hill, who carried the Tigers continuously in the fourth quarter last season? Or will it be Blue, who has paid his dues as one of the hardest workers on the LSU roster for three straight years?

    These men will garner the most attention, but there's a dark horse in this race, too. Remember Kenny Hilliard? You know, the man who rushed for 464 yards and six touchdowns last season.

    How is the LSU backfield always deep with talent? LSU loves to use multiple backs (not hard to see why), so all three men will get plenty of playing time.

    But which player will LSU call on when it needs the tough yards in the fourth quarter? Which back will the coaching staff trust the most with the ball late in the game?

1. Defensive End

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    Jeremiah Rasco enters fall practice as the starter at one of the defensive end positions.

    Who will join him on the opposite side? That's completely in the air at the moment.

    Will it be Danielle Hunter, Frank Herron, Tashawn Bower or Kendell Beckwith?

    Hunter grabbed the attention of coaches last spring with his raw athleticism and quickness off of the ball, but he needed to work on his technique. After a year of learning under some of the best defensive coaches in college football, Hunter looks to be the next great pass-rusher for the Tigers.

    There's no time to get complacent, though. For Hunter to start, he'll have to beat out three highly impressive true freshmen.

    Beckwith was LSU's highest recruit listed on the ESPN 300 (No. 41), while Bower and Herron were both composite 4-stars. One thing's for sure—the Tigers' rotation at the defensive end position remains fierce.