Published August 6, 2012 - 9:30am
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Competition breeds success. That’s what all coaches say. And there are several positions on each team that have not been won outright, yet.
We’ve already taken a look at the East position battles. And here’s a look at some big position battles within each team in the West:
Safety: Vinnie Sunseri vs. HaHa Clinton-Dix
No, that’s not a typo in HaHa Clinton-Dix’s name. He will go head-to-head with the ‘Executioner’ Vinnie Sunseri for the free safety starting spot, opposite Robert Lester. Sunseri got his name from being a headhunter on special teams last year. The son of Tennessee’s defensive coordinator Sal Sunseri, this kid has football in his blood and genes. He’s a headsy player. Clinton-Dix, on the other hand, has loads of talent, and he could grow into the mold of a Mark Barron-type player. He has the type of athleticism that could make him one of the best safeties Nick Saban has ever coached. This position is very important to the Tide secondary because they are replacing three starters altogether.
Offensive Tackle: David Hurd vs. Brey Cook
Arkansas’ offensive line doesn’t have a starting five yet. Travis Swanson returns at center, Alvin Bailey at guard and Jason Peacock returns at tackle, reinstated after his off-season arrest on a theft charge. David Hurd and Brey Cook will be battling it out for the other tackle position. Cook is the favorite to win the position, but Hurd had a very good spring working with the first teamers. This group could be blocking for the best quarterback and the best running back in the country.
Quarterback: Kiehl Frazier vs. Clint Moseley
We’ve been talking about this battle since spring practice, and it will continue through fall camp. Both are different quarterbacks with an offensive coordinator who has experience in both a spread-based offense and a pro-style offense. Kiehl Frazier probably has more upside – passing and running – than Clint Moseley. Last year, Frazier was primarily used like Tim Tebow in his freshman year as a runner, while Moseley was the passer after Barrett Trotter was benched. I like Frazier to win this job.
Running Back: Spencer Ware vs. Kenny Hilliard vs. Michael Ford vs. Alfred Blue
While LSU may have the deepest running back group of any team in the country, you have to believe there will be a fierce battle in fall practice among these players. There is simply not enough carries to go around. Returning starter Spencer Ware is the pounder, but Kenny Hilliard is the tank who can also get tough yardage. Michael Ford is the speedy back of the group and the leading returning rusher, while Alfred Blue has a rare combination of the other three. I am particularly interested to see how Les Miles keeps all these guys happy. Don’t forget about freshman Jeremy Hill, either.
Middle Linebacker: Benardrick McKinney vs. Ferlando Bohanna
Cam Lawrence and Deontae Skinner will start as outside linebackers, but Benardrick McKinney and Ferlando Bohanna are battling it out to start at the MIKE. Bohanna made nine tackles last year, and McKinney redshirted. However, McKinney is the likely favorite to win the position because he’s very athletic for his size. At 6-5, 235 pounds, McKinney will remind State fans of former MSU linebacker and current Seattle Seahawks’ linebacker KJ Wright. McKinney has very long arms and a knack for being around the football. Bohanna, however, has at little more experience, as he started one game last year.
Quarterback: Barry Brunetti vs. Bo Wallace
Ole Miss has yet to name a quarterback for 2012. Both Bo Wallace and Barry Brunetti have received praise from Hugh Freeze – Brunetti for his athleticism and playmaking ability and Wallace for his knowledge of the offense and his experience. Someone is going to start week one. But don’t think for a second this battle will not go into the season. Freeze wants to find out who is ready to lead this football team when the lights come on.
Cornerback: Deshazor Everett vs. Floyd Raven vs. Dustin Harris vs. Tremaine Jacobs
Everyone is talking about the quarterback battle, so I’m going to turn attention to the Aggies’ defense. Solidifying a secondary that was ranked 109th in the country against the pass is at the forefront of TAMU’s fall practice position battles. Deshazor Everett and Floyd Raven enter as the starters, but combined, Everett and Raven haven’t started a game. Dustin Harris, the senior, and Tremaine Jacobs, JUCO transfer, will be right on their tails. Both have more experience than the youngsters but less talent. Jacobs could also get a look at safety and play corner in Nickel coverages.