Big 12 Spotlight: Position battles to watch
Position battles in spring football are always of interest to fans. Here’s a look at six key position battles in the Big 12.
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1. TEXAS QUARTERBACK
It felt like Sam Ehlinger was behind center for Texas long enough to receive tenure from the university, but he's finally off to the next level, and with Ja'Quinden Jackson transferring to Utah, the signal caller in new coach Steve Sarkisian's offense is up for grabs. The battle for No. 1 line the depth chart is between two former four-star recruits, Casey Thompson and Hudson Card.
Thompson was Ehlinger's primary backup last season, and he looked very solid in limited action, most notably in the second half of the Alamo Bowl, where he threw for 170 yards and four TDs. However, Card, the former Rivals250 member, will push him every step of the way, and with a new regime in place in Austin look for the two to effectively split reps during the spring. Early word is that Card looks very impressive and could grasp the system quicker.
2. WEST VIRGINIA DEFENSIVE BACK
The Mountaineers lost two of the top DBs in the country to the SEC via the transfer portal, with Dreshun Miller off to Auburn and Tykee Smith going to Georgia. For Miller's cornerback spot, West Virginia has Jackie Matthews leading Darryl Porter and Jairo Faverus to start opposite of Nicktroy Fortune. The safety position is a little more settled with transfer Scottie Young Jr. replacing Smith at spear and Alonzo Addae and Sean Mahone giving the team depth.
3. OKLAHOMA OFFENSIVE LINE
We've all come to expect the Sooners to have one of the most explosive offenses in the country year in and year out. And while Spencer Rattler and the receiving corps get all the headlines, the foundation of any good offense is in the line. Oklahoma has to replace two key cogs in the unit this spring.
The most notable of these is Creed Humphrey, the two-time reigning Big 12 offensive lineman of the year. Chris Murray has the inside track at the job, but he'll be pushed by Nate Anderson and transfer Robert Congel. And with right tackle Adrian Ealy also headed to the draft, the Sooners found his likely replacement in the transfer portal with the addition of former Tennessee tackle Wanya Morris, who should slide in without too many issues.
4. TCU SAFETY
With both Trevon Moehrig and Ar'Darius Washington off to the NFL, the Frogs have to replace arguably the top safety tandem in the entire country. Fortunately for them, they have a bevy of options, beginning with Memphis transfer TJ Carter, who, while having played corner for the Tigers, looks to fill in at one of the two spots for TCU. Opposite of Carter, both La'Kendrick Van Zandt and Nook Bradford will have a shot to start, but they will be pushed by Josh Foster and Bud Clark.
5. IOWA STATE SAFETY
The Cyclones don't have a lot of holes to fill this spring, as they bring back nearly everyone from their Fiesta Bowl-winning squad of 2020. However, one big spot they'll have to fill is at safety because Lawrence White is taking his talents to the NFL. Villanova grad transfer Jaquan Amos will join the battle with Mason Chambers and Craig McDonald. The latter two have amazing promise.
6. OKLAHOMA STATE WIDE RECEIVER
The Cowboys have become somewhat of a receiver factory during Mike Gundy's tenure in Stillwater, but they have to replace their top two pass catchers from the 2020 campaign because Tylan Wallace and Dillon Stoner are both headed to the pros.
They have a notable transfer from Washington State in Tay Martin, who will compete with Brennan Pressley and Braydon Johnson, the top returners for Oklahoma State this spring, to be Spencer Sanders' No. 1 target. The 'Pokes also have four early enrollees at the WR position from the 2021 class, with Jayden Bray, John Paul Richardson and twins Bryson and Blaine Green all forgoing their senior springs to get an early jump.