Texas Longhorns Football

Texas Football: Previewing 4 Biggest Position Battles Heading into Fall Camp

Taylor GasparFeatured ColumnistJuly 25, 2014

Texas Football: Previewing 4 Biggest Position Battles Heading into Fall Camp

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    The Texas Longhorns will kick off fall camp Aug. 4, and there are a lot of positions on the team that remain wide open.

    First-year head coach Charlie Strong did not take over for Mack Brown because things were going well in Austin. He took over because it was the polar opposite.

    But the time has come for players to step up and prove their worth to the new leader at Texas.

    Here's a look at four of the biggest position battles to watch throughout fall camp.

     

Offensive Guard

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    Offensive line coach Joe Wickline inherited one of the least experienced position groups on the roster. Aside from five-year starting center Dominic Espinosa, the offensive line has a total 10 starts among 11 scholarship athletes, but only one of those starts is from a guard.

    NameYearGames PlayedGames Started
    Sedrick FlowersRedshirt Junior181
    Curtis RiserRedshirt Sophomore40
    Taylor DoyleRedshirt Junior20
    Rami HammadRedshirt Freshman00
    Darius JamesRedshirt Freshman00

    Sedrick Flowers' solo start in the 2013 Valero Alamo Bowl makes him the most experienced guard on the roster. He did prove to be a reliable backup in 2013, but the position is far from secure at this moment. 

    The only other guards who have playing experience are redshirt sophomore Curtis Riser and redshirt junior Taylor Doyle. Rami Hammad and Darius James both redshirted in 2013 but were highly touted recruits coming out of high school.

    In other words, the guard position is up for grabs.

Safety

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    The depth at safety recently took a hit when Orangebloods.com reported that senior safety Josh Turner has been dismissed from the team due to a violation of team rules. That leaves the Longhorns with one returning starter in Mykkele Thompson.

    NameYearGames PlayedGames Started
    Mykkele ThompsonSenior3818
    Kevin VaccaroSophomore120
    Adrian ColbertRedshirt Sophomore130
    Erik HuhnRedshirt Freshman00
    Edwin FreemanTrue Freshman00

    It would be difficult to say anyone will battle Thompson at this point due to the lack of experience from the safety position. But who will play in the backfield beside him remains unknown.

    Adrian Colbert could be the second-best option. His six tackles helped him finish third on the team in special teams tackles in 2013. But he has not proved himself as a safety for Texas, and the same could be said about all of the safeties, aside from Thompson.

    Losing Turner was a massive blow to the safety position and will only add to the obstacles defensive coordinator Vance Bedford could face in his first season in Austin.

Wide Receiver

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    Similar to the safety position, the depth at wide receiver has recently taken a hit. Wide receivers Kendall Sanders and Montrel Meander have been suspended indefinitely after being charged with sexual assault.

    Prior to this suspension, Strong was asked about his concerns with the team at Big 12 media days, and he did not hesitate to mention the wide receivers.

    "With the receivers, the concern there is you want to look for a big play guy, and someone who can take the ball and make people miss," Strong said. "I don't know if we have that right now. We sure did not show it in the spring."

    NameYearGames PlayedGames Started
    Jaxon ShipleySenior3624
    Marcus JohnsonJunior184
    Jacorey WarrickSophomore40
    Jake OliverRedshirt Freshman00
    Roderick BernardTrue Freshman00
    Armanti ForemanTrue Freshman00
    Garrett GrayTrue Freshman00
    Lorenzo JoeTrue Freshman00
    Dorian LeonardTrue Freshman00
    Daje JohnsonTrue Freshman00

    What Texas does have right now are two reliable options in Jaxon Shipley and Marcus Johnson, but the third spot could be up for grabs.

    Wide receivers coach Les Koenning has a lengthy list of receivers who are more than capable of stepping into a starting role. One player who stood out to senior cornerback Quandre Diggs was sophomore Jacorey Warrick.

    "He works his tail off every day," Diggs said at Big 12 media days. "He might be a little guy but I can guarantee you he has the speed and the moves to fill the slot position. He could definitely surprise some people."

    Whether it's Warrick or a freshman who steps up, the wide receiver position will be an interesting one to follow throughout fall camp.

Defensive End

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    The Longhorns have a solid starting option at defensive end in senior Cedric Reed, but who will play opposite of Reed has not necessarily been decided.

    NameYearGames PlayedGames Started
    Cedric ReedSenior3319
    Shiro DavisJunior200
    Bryce Cottrell Redshirt Sophomore110
    Caleb Bluiett Redshirt Sophomore90
    Derick RobersonTrue Freshman00

    Shiro Davis, Bryce Cottrell and Caleb Bluiett all have a decent amount of experience as backups but will have to take the next step forward to become successful starters. 

    Davis' 20 games make him the most experienced option, but the last time we saw the Longhorns take the field in the spring game, it was Bluiett who showed the most potential.

    The redshirt sophomore led the second-team defense with eight tackles and two sacks, which were better numbers than anyone on the first-team defense.

    Even though it is not known who will be starting aside from Reed, the good news for Texas fans is there are talented options who could step up at any given moment.

     

    Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained firsthand.

    Taylor Gaspar is Bleacher Report's Featured Columnist covering the Texas Longhorns. Follow Taylor on Twitter: @Taylor_Gaspar.

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