Position battles to watch in 2017 at Texas FBS programs: Part II

Your favorite team's success may hinge on a battle between teammates, and we're monitoring those showdowns closely.

Now that spring football is in the books and fall camp is right around the corner, coaches across the state are beginning to address areas of concern on both sides of the ball. There are several key position battles that will go a long ways towards determining what football in Texas looks like this season, so here are a few to watch in August.

Previously: Part I

Xavier Jones vs. Braeden West vs. Ke’Mon Freeman (SMU)

When Matt Davis was lost for the season in the Mustangs opener against North Texas last year, more pressure was placed on the team’s rushing attack as Chad Morris turned to redshirt freshman Ben Hicks under center. Xavier Jones shined against the Mean Green, but he too went down with an injury and finished the season with just 15 carries for 140 yards and one touchdown. Braeden West (202 carries, 1,036 yards) and Ke’Mon Freemon (154 carries, 651 yards) stepped up in his absence, and all three players return this year giving SMU a three-headed monster in the backfield. While all three will see a share of the touches, the competition in fall camp will decide who the featured back will be leading up to the season opener against Stephen F. Austin.

Jalen Guyton vs. Turner Smiley vs. Rico Bussey Jr. (UNT)

The Mean Green were pressed already at wide receiver heading into the second season under coach Seth Littrell, and that was before Tyler Wilson, who was expected to step into a bigger role as a sophomore, left the program in the offseason. North Texas loses three of its top four receivers– Thaddeous Thompson, Terian Goree and Kenny Buyers – leaving a big hole to fill in Littrell’s offensive attack. Guyton, the former Allen star who went to Notre Dame before spending last season at Trinity Valley Community College, has the potential to put up big numbers. Smiley (389 yards, 2 TDs) is the top returner and Bussey, who missed most of last season due to injury, put on a show in the spring game while going for 146 yards and a touchdown. One player will emerge as the go-to target for sophomore quarterback Mason Fine as the Mean Green look to throw the ball more consistently this season.

Samuel Glaesmann vs. Jackson Tyner vs. J.T. Granato (Rice)

The Owls and coach David Bailiff are looking for the replacement to Tyler Stehling, and Rice has three guys competing for the spot. Samuel Glaesmann, a redshirt freshman from Waco Midway, played well in the spring game, showing off some big play ability while accounting for three touchdowns. Tyner showed flashes at times last season while filling in for Stehling, most notably in a big win over UTEP. But Tyner struggled in the finale against Stanford, which allowed Granato to see some action at the end of the season. Whichever quarterback Bailiff decides on in August will be tasked with helping Rice build some momentum after a disappointing 3-9 season last year.

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Brady Keane is a Contributing Writer for Dave Campbell’s Texas Football. Follow him on Twitter: @BradyKeane.

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