Position Battles to Watch

Position Battles to Watch

Scott takes a look at four key position battles to watch as SMU football training camp kicks off today.

Quarterback

After the season Garrett Gilbert had in 2013, no matter who you are, that's hard to follow up. But Despite having started the final two games of 2013, and despite having taken all of the first-team reps during spring practice, sophomore Neal Burcham still has a ton to prove before he can just be given the starting job.

With the addition of former Texas A&M quarterback and Tyler JC transfer Matt Davis, Burcham will finally have some competition for the job.

Burcham will likely start the season as the first string signal caller, but Davis has the arm strength and athletic ability to really put some pressure on Burcham. The faster Davis can pick up the offense, the more pressure there will be on Burcham to perform early on.

Projected depth chart: 1. Neal Burcham 2. Matt Davis

Running Back

Now that Pope has been granted another year of eligibility, I don't think there's any question he'll be SMU's game one starter, but who will be number two on the depth chart?

Both Prescott Line and K.C. Nlemchi have experience, but Line struggled all of 2013 to get anything consistent going and Nlemchi has struggled to get back onto Coach Jones' good side. Incoming freshman Daniel Gresham, the top ranked fullback in the 2014 class, will also get a shot to see some early playing time.

Since Zach Line's departure, SMU has struggled to find any kind of consistent running game, so if the struggles continue, don't be surprised to see Gresham get some meaningful looks early on.

Projected depth chart: 1. Kevin Pope 2. Daniel Gresham 3. Prescott Line 4. KC Nlemchi

Inside Linebacker

Despite Kevin Pope's return, he will likely stick to the offensive side of the ball, which means both inside linebacker positions will be there for the taking.

Two upperclassmen to keep an eye on are transfers Caleb Tuiasosopo and Cameron Nwosu. Both Tuiasosopo and Nwosu have struggled with injuries in the past, but both seem to be healthy and their experience will help them make their pushes for the starting jobs.

Coach June Jones also has former outside linebacker Jonathan Yenga penciled in as a possible starter, but who knows if the rising junior will actually stay on the inside. As a sophomore at outside linebacker, Yenga excelled, recording 49 total tackles and 11 tackles for loss. Sophomore Nick Horton is also another candidate to keep an eye on who saw some playing time in 2013 despite being just a freshman.

Projected depth chart: ILB 1: 1. Cameron Nwosu 2. Caleb Tuiasosopo
ILB 2: 1. Jonathan Yenga 2. Nick Horton

Outside receiver:

With the loss of 1,000-yard receiver Keenan Holman to graduation, and the unexpected dismissal of promising freshman JaBryce Taylor, the outside wide out position is up for grabs.

Highly touted tight-end-turned-receiver Jeremiah Gaines made the switch from inside to outside this spring and excelled despite the transition. But Gaines' problem has never been his play during practice. If Gaines' play during practice can translate to game day on Saturdays, he should have no problem taking over for Holman. Gaines' success will depend on if Coach Jones can find a way to utilize his athleticism.

If Gaines struggles to find his groove however, senior Stephen Nelson or redshirt freshman Everett Dickerson could also help fill the void.

Projected depth chart: 1. Jeremiah Gaines 2. Everett Dickerson 3. Stephen Nelson

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