Top College Football Position Battles Remaining Post 2014 Spring Practice
Spring games are officially over, which means the real offseason has officially begun. Yep, it's going to be three long months before preseason camp gets underway.
All that's left for anyone to chew on are preseason watch lists. (And, congratulations, you've been named to every single one!)
Still, not every position battle was solved this spring. Far from it, actually. From quarterback battles to replacing key defenders, which battles will carry over into the summer and preseason camp?
Alabama's offense is going to have a new look to it in 2014. There's the new offensive coordinator, former USC coach Lane Kiffin, and a new starting quarterback.
Florida State transfer Jacob Coker has officially graduated and is heading to Tuscaloosa, according to Andrew Gribble of al.com. This summer heading into preseason camp, he'll compete against Blake Sims, Cooper Bateman and Alec Morris.
The latter three have a bit of an edge with Kiffin's playbook since they participated in spring practices, but largely, everyone is starting anew.
Is Coker the favorite to win the starting job eventually? Probably, but the competition leading up to that decision should be interesting.
Ohio State's Offensive Line
More or less, three-fifths of Ohio State's offensive line battle has been solved.
Tackle Taylor Decker and guard Pat Elflein are sure things along the O-line, and Alabama transfer Chad Lindsay provides a boost at center.
Still, this is an offensive line that generally lacks experience. Last year's senior-laden group combined to play 187 career games. That's a lot of time together, which is important at the O-line.
Seniors Darryl Baldwin and Joel Hale, along with junior Antonio Underwood, will be a few of the many players competing for playing time this preseason camp. The sooner the O-line can come together, the better. Protecting quarterback Braxton Miller is priority No. 1 this year.
Texas A&M's Quarterbacks
Yeah, the people kinda want to know who is going to replace Johnny Manziel.
With Matt Joeckel transferring to TCU, where he seems likely to start, the Aggies' quarterback battle comes down to sophomore Kenny Hill and early enrollee Kyle Allen.
Hill has been suspended since being charged with public intoxication in March. However, Jeremy Fowler of CBSSports.com reports that Hill is expected to be reinstated in time for summer workouts in June.
Both players are talented, but Hill has a year in the A&M system under his belt. Will that be the difference? We'll likely find out in a few months.
Oregon's Wide Receivers
Oregon's wide receivers are going to have a new look this season. Josh Huff, De'Anthony Thomas and Daryle Hawkins have moved on, and Bralon Addison sustained a reported ACL injury that could keep him out for part, or all, of the year.
Basically, senior Keanon Lowe enters Week 1 as the most experienced wide receiver—and he had 18 receptions last season. Chance Allen and Dwayne Stanford will undoubtedly be some of the younger players asked to make a big leap this season.
Ducks quarterback Marcus Mariota also may rely on his tight ends more. Pharaoh Brown and John Mundt both have tons of potential, but combined for just 26 receptions last season.
Michigan State's Linebackers
It's difficult to pick just one position to watch on Michigan State's defense since the Spartans lose playmakers at every level.
For the sake of the conversation, the linebackers deserve the most consideration since that unit loses Max Bullough, Denicos Allen and Kyler Elsworth.
Darien Harris, Taiwan Jones, Ed Davis, Riley Bullough and Jon Reschke all figure to see playing time this season. Harris and Jones specifically look like they can be penciled in at the outside and middle linebacker spots, but there is still some work to done figuring out the rest of the two-deep.
Given how dominant the Spartans' defense was a season ago, all eyes will be on this year's group to see if it can transition seamlessly.
Oklahoma's Offensive Skill Positions
Okay, we're lumping a few positions into one slide. It happens from time to time.
With Oklahoma presumably the preseason favorite to win the Big 12, finding playmakers around quarterback Trevor Knight remains an important offseason storyline.
Keith Ford leads an inexperienced group of running backs, but blue-chip recruit Joe Mixon will join the team later this summer. Mixon should be in line to see plenty of playing time this fall.
The Sooners are also replacing several key wide receivers, including Jalen Saunders and Lacoltan Bester. The problem is Oklahoma didn't have many healthy wide receivers available for its spring game last month. Furthermore, Blake Bell, a converted quarterback to tight end, was out with a knee injury.
Beyond Ford and receiver Sterling Shepard, there is a lot of playing time up for grabs this fall.
Seriously, how could this not be included?
David Ash, who would be the presumed starter, can't stay healthy. Coming off a concussion that cost him most of the 2013 season, Ash missed Texas' spring game with a fracture in his left foot.
Sophomore Tyrone Swoopes was then promoted to the No. 1 quarterback for the spring game, but got off to a slow start. There's still no word if USC transfer Max Wittek is coming to Austin, even though all signs point to that happening.
And then there's Jerrod Heard, the highly touted prospect from Denton, Texas, who will join the team later this summer. Heard's chances of earning the starting job are little-to-none, but he'll be another name in the competition.
If Wittek joins the program, it should be an interesting battle between him and Ash for the starting job in Week 1.
Florida State's Wide Receivers
Beyond Rashad Greene, Florida State's wide receiver group will look quite different in 2014.
Christian Green should move into a starting spot after catching 13 passes a year ago. Kermit Whitfield, Jesus Wilson and Isaiah Jones could also make big strides as young receivers.
For that matter, 5-star receiver Ermon Lane could crack the two-deep by the time Week 1 rolls around.
There's talent at wide receiver, no doubt about it. It's about building the chemistry between the receivers and quarterback Jameis Winston.
Ben Kercheval is a lead writer for college football at Bleacher Report. All stats courtesy of ESPN.com. All recruiting information courtesy of 247Sports.
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