Position battles to watch in 2017 at Texas FBS programs: Part I
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.
Kellen Mond vs. Jake Hubenak vs. Nick Starkel (Texas A&M)
Since Johnny Manziel departed Texas A&M following the 2013 season, the Aggies have had a new starting quarterback to open the season for three straight years – Kenny Hill (2014), Kyle Allen (2015) and Trevor Knight (2016). That streak will continue this season, as Mond, Hubenak and Starkel continue their competition for the starting role leading up to the UCLA game on Sept. 3. Quarterback play will go a long ways towards determining the team’s success this year, which will ultimately decide Kevin Sumlin’s future with the program. Hubenak brings experience and leadership to the competition, having spent two years in the system while making three starts. Starkel played well in the spring game, but Mond offers the highest upside as a true freshman and possesses a similar skillset to that of Knight, who played well in the run-pass option scheme Noel Mazzone brought to the table last year.
Chris Warren vs. Toneil Carter (Texas)
When D’Onta Foreman decided to enter the NFL draft after last season, he left a significant hole in the Longhorns offensive attack. Foreman rushed for 2,028 yards and 15 touchdowns on 323 carries last year, but Tom Herman has a few guys with a lot of potential ready to take on a bigger role this season. Chris Warren (62 carries, 366 yards) and Kyle Porter (46 carries, 205 yards) both return, but Texas added four-star recruit Toneil Carter to the mix as well. Carter was on campus in the spring and, with Warren and Porter out due to injury, was the leading rusher in the spring game. Foreman played a huge role in helping Shane Buechele ease into the role of starting quarterback last season, so the competition to fill his role as the workhorse in the backfield will be an important one for the offense moving forward.
Keke Coutee vs. Cameron Batson (Texas Tech)
Texas Tech was already facing a big change to its offense with Patrick Mahomes heading to the NFL, and things got worse when Jonathan Giles decided to transfer in the off-season. Giles (1,158 yards, 13 TDs) was the team’s leading receiver a year ago, leaving another big hole for the Red Raiders to fill offensively. Cameron Batson (644 yards, 8 TDs) and Keke Coutee (890 yards, 7 TDs) both played well at inside receiver last season and will be relied on even more heavily in 2017. One will have to emerge in August as the go-to receiver out of the slot in Kingsbury’s high-octane offense in order to help the transition to a new quarterback (likely Nic Shimonek).
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Brady Keane is a Contributing Writer for Dave Campbell’s Texas Football. Follow him on Twitter: @BradyKeane.