The Arkansas football team is now deep into spring practice and battles for starting spots will take place every day until the season starts.
Many different positions lost key components, so that gives the opportunity for some other guys to step up.
I think that the defensive side of the ball is where a majority of the battles will be taking place, especially with so many question marks in the back seven. That’s why the first position battle that you should watch is going to be the cornerbacks.
Right now the starting spots are essentially taken by experienced guys, Tevin Mitchell and Will Hines, however they will be pushed every practice by some younger players.
Sophomores Jared Collins and D.J. Dean both played in their first year and gained some much needed experience. Dean appeared in all 12 games of his true freshman campaign and started the final two alongside Collins who saw action in 11 games a year ago.
Another guy that will be in the mix is senior Carroll Washington. He played in 11 games a year ago and was the top-ranked cornerback coming out of junior college by 247sports.com in 2012.
If Mitchell continues to miss tackles like last season, then his spot will definitely be open to any of these guys.
Switching to the offense, the wide receiver position is one that has to have new players step up with Javontee Herndon and Julian Horton graduating.
It should be easy for Keon Hatcher to immediately take over the leading receiving spot, but other than him the position is wide open.
I really expect D’Arthur Cowan to come into his own this year and become a regular starter along with Demetrius Wilson when he gets fully healthy.
Also, Jared Cornelius will see plenty of playing time and could work his way into being a starter because of his incredible hands and elusiveness that he has shown off this spring.
Cody Hollister and Drew Morgan will also be some guys battling for playing time at the position. Hollister brings nice size and hands while Morgan has shown improvement and can usually find a hole in zone defense when needed.
The running back spot battle may not be heavily rely on a specific starter, but it will be interesting to see who gains a majority of the carries as we get closer to fall.
It will mostly be by committee, with Alex Collins and Jonathan Williams getting the starts, but they will have to watch out for guys like Korliss Marshall.
Marshall showed big play ability in his freshman season last year and has tremendous speed. I don’t think he will take too many carries away from the main two, but if since he decided to stay on offense he should contribute much more than last year in the backfield.
Kody Walker will also be a guy that gets a lot of playing time this year, especially in the red zone. He has a big 6’2”, 250-pound frame and is very tough to bring down along with decent speed. Walker will also see some time at the fullback position in effort to replace Kiero Small.
Collins got the most carries a year ago, but I think that Williams will earn a lot more this year and they should have around equal touches. Walker should come in on short yardage situations and Marshall will get a lot of sweeps and quick screens to try and get him in some space on the outside.
Other positions to watch: Center, Left Guard, Linebacker