The LSU Tigers begin fall practice next week with six crucial position battles.
Nearly every starter heading into camp will be pressured by a backup, which is a bit of an uncommon place for the Tigers. Generally, LSU has a stable of starters that have already secured their starting position heading into camp, but 2013 has a different tale.
Zach Mettenberger, Odell Beckham, Jarvis Landry, J.C. Copeland Trai Turner, Vadal Alexander and La'el Collins are pretty much guaranteed to start on the offensive side, while Anthony Johnson, Lamin Barrow, Jalen Mills and Craig Loston are locked in as defensive starters.
Every other position has two or three prime candidates competing for an opportunity to start. Of all the position battles, here are the most critical.
A backup quarterback might not seem as important to most fanbases.
Trust me when I tell you—it's extremely dire to LSU fans. Why? Let's sum this up in two words—Ryan Perrilloux.
The throne was Perrilloux's to rule in 2008, but after he made some mistakes off the football field, Les Miles was forced to kick him off of the team. This forced the Tigers to start an unprepared Jarrett Lee, who averaged just under two interceptions a game, followed by Jordan Jefferson, who threw more interceptions in than touchdowns in 2010. Need I go any further?
Should something happen to Mettenberger, either Anthony Jennings or Stephen Rivers will take his place in the offense.
Jennings is the more talented of the two with an extra element to his game. His dual-threat ability has led to Miles hinting at him being the No. 2 behind Mettenberger, but Rivers' experience and command over the playbook will give him a fighting chance.
Cam Cameron should utilize the tight ends more in the passing game.
What was virtually a non-factor for the Tigers last season could become a strength of the LSU offense with playmakers such as Travis Dickson, DeSean Smith and Dillon Gordon all competing for that starting position.
If I had to bet money, I'd be willing to wager the position battle will come down to Dickson and Smith.
Both are great receivers in their own right. Dickson, who played in 12 games last season, is the younger brother of Richard Dickson. In the Ole Miss game last season, he had 69 receiving yards, showing glimpses of his brother's talent.
He'll have his hands full this fall though, because the Tigers have a true freshman with a great high school reputation coming to campus. Smith, who has the prototypical size for a tight end, was viewed as one of the top high school football players in Louisiana last season.
Years of experience vs. unlimited potential vs. an athletic showing in 2013. That's exactly what's competing this fall for an outside linebacker slot.
Tahj Jones is a veteran, who unfortunately missed all but one game in the 2012 season because of academic problems. Jones has played in 28 games throughout his LSU career. That makes him a favorite heading into camp.
That is unless Kendell Beckwith lives up to the hype. Beckwith, who will be a true freshman, has far too many abilities to sit the bench this fall. Recently, Miles said three freshman could start on defense with Beckwith being one of the three names he dropped.
Standing in Beckwith's way will be a pair of Joneses: Tahj, of course, and Deion Jones, who saw action in 13 games last season as a true freshman.
The Tigers are deep at linebacker this season and it's going to make for some entertaining battles this summer.
By now, Tre'Davious White needs no introduction.
If you've been following along, White has received a tremendous amount of hype entering his first season as a Tiger. He's received hype, on top of hype, on top of hype. Hey, it's the offseason, what else would you expect?
But with his speed and athleticism, he truly will be a danger for Jalen Collins' starting cornerback position.
Jalen Mills will be the No. 1 corner, and before White, Collins was thought to be a no-brainer starting opposite of him. Collins recorded six pass breakups and a pair of interceptions in 2012.
He will be challenged though, and entering fall camp, White vs. Collins will undoubtedly be the most entertaining position battle of all.
Miles' 2013 recruiting class had some jewels on the offensive line.
The most noteworthy one was Ethan Pocic, who was No. 94 on the ESPN 150. Pocic was originally recruited as an offensive tackle, but he's shown his versatility in the spring by practicing as a center in Elliott Porter's absence.
Porter missed practices in the spring with an undisclosed injury. Because Pocic enrolled early and got some quality practice time in the spring, he will now battle for Porter's starting center position.
Last season, Porter saw significant playing time, seeing action in 10 games. Pocic will push Porter this fall, and if Porter answers the call, he will be better on gameday because of it.
The significance of knowing the reads, securing the snap and delivering instructions to offensive linemen on both sides make the center one of the most important positions on the team. The Tigers have two quality centers in Porter and Pocic.
Who will replace Kevin Minter?
Who will fill the void of 130 tackles last season? Assuming Lamin Barrow stays at Mike, it will likely come down to Lamar Louis or D.J. Welter.
Last season, Louis emerged as a regular starter for the Tigers. He started in five of the last seven games of the season, and he provided strong run support. Granted, his 13 total tackles were nowhere near the level of production Minter had.
Still, Louis is a prime candidate for replacing him. That is, if Welter cools off this fall.
In the spring, Welter was a pleasant surprise. He emerged as a leading candidate to start at middle linebacker, and Dandy Don even has him starting on his preseason depth chart. Can Welter beat out Louis and Barrow?