While most of the attention has been placed on Heisman-winning quarterback Johnny Manziel this offseason at College Station, there are several positional battles that have gone largely unnoticed that will be pivotal to Texas A&M's success in 2013-14.
Whether it's a position of strength or weakness, the competition has been fierce in training camp this offseason for the Aggies. Will the more experienced players get the nod, or will the young guns rise to the challenge?
Here's a look at the biggest positional battles at College Station entering the 2013-14 campaign.
Running back is a position of strength this season for the Aggies, but that doesn't mean there are simply one or two backs who can get the job done.
Senior Ben Malena, who rushed for 808 yards and eight touchdowns last season, returns. Then you have sophomore Trey Williams, who rushed for 376 yards and five touchdowns on 5.8 yards per carry last season, including a 109-yard performance against Auburn.
Then you have transfers Brandon Williams from Oklahoma and Tra Carson from Oregon. Both Williams and Carson rushed for over 200 yards in their freshman seasons before transferring. Williams is a lightning-quick, explosive athlete, while the 6'0", 227-pound Carson should serve as the battering ram in short-yardage and goal-line situations.
There is plenty of competition in the backfield, that's for sure.
While running back is a position of strength for A&M this season, linebacker is a position of weakness.
Junior Donnie Baggs, senior Steven Jenkins and junior Tommy Sanders will man the starting linebacker spots, but beyond that there isn't much tested depth.
Freshmen Reggie Chevis, Brett Wade, Jordan Mastrogiovanni and Shaan Washington will all be competing for playing time on the second team. While Chevis and Wade impressed during spring practice, and Mastrogiovanni and Washington are no slouches, it's asking a lot from the youngsters to step in and make an impact in their first season in the big and bad SEC.
It's going to be interesting how it plays out throughout the course of the 2013-14 season.
Even at this point, it's hard to say who will be starting on the defensive line against Rice on Aug. 31.
Right now, the Aggies' spring depth chart has Kimo Tipoti at nose guard, but Tipoti played most of the 2012 campaign at offensive guard, and we still don't know if senior Kirby Ennis will be healthy enough to supplant the redshirt freshman after undergoing offseason surgery.
Alonzo Williams is currently listed as the starter at defensive tackle, but a group of freshmen that includes Hardreck Walker, Justin Manning, Isaiah Golden and Jordan Points has the potential to push Williams to strong-side defensive end.
With defensive coordinator Mark Snyder known to employ various formations out on the field, plenty of uncertainty surrounds A&M's defensive line this summer.
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