10 Position Battles That Won't Be Decided This Spring
Every spring, position battles take place across the country that shape the race for college football's national championship come fall.
At Wisconsin, for instance, the defense is talented, running backs and offensive line are great, and yet the difference between potentially competing with Ohio State for the conference title and finishing in the middle of the pack hinges on the result of the quarterback battle taking place this offseason.
The ten position battles on this list are key to the success of the teams listed, and none of them are going to be resolved by the end of spring practice.
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Kansas State Quarterback - Daniel Sams appears to be next in line, but will be pushed by JUCO transfer Jake Waters, the 2012 JUCO player of the year.
Oregon State Quarterback - Sean Mannion or Cody Vaz? This one won't be decided until late into the fall, if ever.
Oklahoma State Quarterback -The Big 12 is wide open this season, and the Cowboys have as a good a shot at it as anybody, if they can answer the quarterback question. Wes Lunt, J.W. Walsh or Clint Chelf?
Arkansas Quarterback -This position is crowded. Brandon Allen played some last season, but was not great. Brandon Mitchell, A.J. Derby, Taylor Reed and Austin Allen also have the potential to compete at this position.
Michigan State Running Back - Nick Hill and Jeremy Langford, who combined for 30 carries in 2012, will compete to take over for Le'Veon Bell.
Georgia Nose Tackle - Kwame Geathers and John Jenkins both left for the NFL, leaving a gaping hole at Nose tackle. Mike Thornton and John Taylor are the two best options at the position right now.
10. Texas Running Back
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Johnathan Gray took over as the starter at running back for Texas after injuries to Joe Bergeron and Malcolm Brown.
He is in the driver's seat for that position this spring, but don't think that Bergeron and Brown aren't capable of taking the job back.
All three guys have the talent to start at an elite program anywhere in the country, and if Gray isn't at his very best, Brown or Bergeron will take his starting spot away from him.
There is a chance that Bergeron's size could lead to a switch to fullback, but that position is crowded as well, so it is a slim chance.
Brown has the best vision of the three, and none of them displayed "home-run" potential in 2012.
For the time being, Gray should be RB1, but don't be surprised if things get shaken up as the spring and fall wind along.
9. Oklahoma Quarterback
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Blake Bell is the man who will step into the void left by Landry Jones' departure after playing at Oklahoma forever.
Bell will eventually win the starting position, but it won't be without some competition.
Trevor Knight and Kendal Thompson both have the skill to start at the position eventually, and sooner rather than later if Bell is not able to be consistent throwing the ball.
Bell has more touchdowns (24) in his career, than passing attempts (20), and if he does not establish himself as a passing threat early in practice, this will not be settled until fall.
8. Georgia Linebacker
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The Bulldogs have some big shoes to fill at linebacker.
Alec Ogletree and Jarvis Jones have both moved on to play at the next level, leaving some questions at the linebacker position.
Jordan Jenkins will move into a new role as leader of the unit, and players such as Amarlo Herrera and Ramik Wilson will battle for the other starting positions.
Jenkins will be as good as Jones or Ogletree very soon; if not this season, then next, as he possesses all of the physical tools and football talent to be a huge impact player.
After him, however, the field is wide open, and Mark Richt's team will need to get this position figured out if it hopes to compete for an SEC title in 2013.
7. Florida Wide Receiver
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Florida somehow managed to win 11 games last season in spite of no credible threat at wide receiver.
No wide receiver on the team had more than 36 receptions or 383 receiving yards. Imagine how good they would have been with a decent receiving threat.
Andre Debose will be a little better, but without some help at the position, the Gators are in for a step in the wrong direction.
Between Demarcus Robinson, Latroy Pittman and Debose, somebody needs to win the battle or primary receiving duties.
That, or maybe Tim Tebow could come back and play the position.
6. USC Quarterback
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Max Wittek did not exactly set the world on fire last season in limited play, tossing five interceptions and only three touchdowns on 69 passing attempts.
So, assuming the starting job as quarterback for the Trojans is his might be a bit premature.
With Matt Barkley gone for the NFL, this position is up for grabs and will be until at least fall practice.
5. TCU Quarterback
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TCU head coach Gary Patterson has a tough decision on his hands.
Quarterback Casey Pachall has returned to the program from rehab, and wants his starting quarterback position back.
But Trevone Boykin, who took over last season after Pachall left the program, will be fighting to keep the starting job.
Boykin struggled at times last season, making mistakes one might expect out of a first year quarterback, and finishing the season with 10 interceptions to go with only 15 touchdowns.
If Boykin has improved through the course of the off-season, he will challenge Pachall for the starting job until late in the season.
4. Wisconsin Quarterback
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The Badgers have a log-jam at quarterback.
In 2012, transfer Danny O'Brien got the nod, and floundered mightily.
Then Joel Stave stepped up to the plate, playing well before getting injured.
Next up was Curt Phillips, who struggled to throw the ball and couldn't lead the team past Stanford in the Rose Bowl.
With a new coaching staff at the helm, each of these guys will have to prove they deserve the position all over again.
On top of that, Bart Houston, who redshirted last season, will also be in the mix and provide an interesting option for Gary Andersen and his staff.
While it would be ideal to have this hammered out by the end of spring, it is not going to happen that way.
3. Stanford Running Back
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Stanford's success in 2012, which doesn't get enough press, was largely due to Stepfan Taylor, and his success in the pro-style offense run by David Shaw.
Taylor finished last season with 1,530 yards and 13 rushing touchdowns.
He's been "the guy" at the position for each of the last three seasons, and now is gone to the greener pastures of the NFL.
His departure didn't leave the Cardinal totally bereft of talent, to the contrary, David Shaw has two guys who are capable of taking over right where Taylor left off at running back.
Anthony Wilkerson and Tyler Gaffney, both seniors who know the offense and the type of play Shaw is looking for out of his running backs, will battle in practice for the starting position.
2. LSU Defensive End
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This position has been vacated in the bayou.
Gone are Sam Montgomery, Barkevious Mingo, and their back-ups, leaving Les Miles to try and figure out how to fill the gaps.
Jermauria Rasco, Danielle Hunter and Frank Herron will be competing for these two positions, along with anyone else who remotely resembles a defensive end.
Herron has the most upside, but will be a freshman, so will have an uphill battle to earn the starting nod.
Regardless of who starts in LSU's first game, this battle is going to be raging late into the fall.
1. Florida State Quarterback
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E.J. Manuel is gone after never really establishing himself as a great quarterback.
That leaves the door wide open for three guys waiting their turn at FSU.
Jimbo Fisher turned to Clint Trickett during Manuel's injuries over the past two seasons, and Trickett will be the most familiar with the program and playbook.
But he will have his hands full trying to hold off Jameis Winston, who red-shirted last season but came to the program with tons of hype.
Throw into the mix 6'6", 227-pound Jacob Coker, and you have a recipe for an extended position battle.