Originally written on Crystal Ball Run  |  Last updated 11/20/14

As we get down to just a few weeks until the college football season begins, there are some highly contested position battles that need to be cleared up before the games start. Naturally, most fans focus on the quarterback battles (and it’s hard to not consider a few) but there is more than that. Here are the 10 most interesting position battles as we enter the final weeks of the preseason. Oklahoma quarterbacks It’s looking more and more like the bruising Blake Bell will replace Landry Jones, especially since Kendal Thompson fractured his foot on the first day of camp. Once Thompson returns he may get a shot, but he may be too far behind. There is also Trevor Knight, how has looked solid in camp. Bob Stoops always seems to find the right guy to take the snaps, so there seems to be no reason to think he won’t again in 2013. Oregon State quarterbacks Oregon State could make a run at a Pac-12 crown, but to be a serious contender the Beavers may have to settle on a starting quarterback. There’s still a chance that Mike Riley will choose to platoon Sean Mannion and Cody Vaz, but that’s likely not the best option. If you go strictly on how the season ended then it would appear that Vaz is the go-to guy. Mannion returned from an injury and proceeded to have a three-interception performance against Washington. Vaz replaced him and almost led the Beavers on a come-from-behind win. Vaz is talented, but there’s a reason Mannion started the season as the main guy. Arizona quarterbacks Playing quarterback in Rich Rodriguez’ system takes more than just athletic ability … it also takes brains. B.J. Denker, a lefty who went 12-for-14 against Colorado last season appears to be the favorite, but don’t count out Jesse Scroggins and freshman Anu Solomon. Rodriguez will probably stay away from the freshman, but if the battle gets close he just might turn to his future now. Baylor wide receivers With the loss of Terrance Williams, Baylor is retooling at receiver a bit. Leading the charge at inside receiver is Tevin Reese and Levi Norwood, while Carl Spangler and Corey Coleman are also in the race for playing time. With Baylor’s wide-open offense, it’s not surprising that there is plenty of talent for outside receivers. Battling it out are Antwan Goodley, Clay Fuller, Jay Lee and Kaleb Moore. There also a chance that true freshman Robbie Rhodes could see the field as well. Georgia defensive end Garrison Smith is a lock at one spot, but the end position is still a battle between Ray Drew, Sterling Bailey, Jonathan Taylor and Toby Johnson. There is some talent with this group, so it wouldn’t be a surprise to see one these guys moved somewhere else along the front. Johnson is raw, but has unbelievable upside. He could be Georgia’s next big thing on defense. West Virginia running backs While WVU fans are wondering who will start at quarterback (put your money on Florida State transfer Clint Trickett), there’s a serious backlog of talent at running back. Houston transfer Charles Sims is speedy and has the experience to be a difference maker for the Mountaineers this fall, but Dana Holgorsen’s team returns Andrew Buie and Dustin Garrison. WVU also has freshman Wendell Smallwood and JUCO transfer Dreamius Smith. Buie was the top back last year with 850 rushing yards and seven touchdowns on 181 carries. Sims rushed for 846 and 11 touchdowns in just nine games for Houston. Indiana quarterbacks After missing almost all of 2012, former starter Tre Roberson is back and hopes to return to the top spot. Of course, he’ll need to beat out Cameron Coffman and Nate Sudfield. Right now, all three are considered co-No. 1s. Coach Kevin Wilson would rather not start the season with three guys penciled in at No. 1, but platooning two quarterbacks isn’t a crazy notion. At this point, IU football will do about anything to have a winning season. So if it takes two starting quarterbacks then that’s what he’ll do. Maryland running backs With Wes Brown still suspended for the season, Randy Edsall is looking for a potential starter. Right now the battle is between Brandon Ross and Albert Reid — both of which topped 100 yards rushing in the Maryland spring game. They are both listed is co-starters and both will probably get plenty of playing time, but one will end up getting more carries. Reid has been considered a short-down back, but he might have shown enough this spring to convince the coaches he something more. Stanford running backs Cardinal fans were concerned last year about finding a replacement for Andrew Luck at quarterback, but that went relatively smooth. Now everyone is wondering how Stanford will replace Stepfan Taylor, but once again the Cardinal may have the answer. Taylor’s back-up Anthony Wilkerson would seem like the obvious choice, but he’s in a battle with Tyler Gaffney and Barry Sanders — the son of the former Oklahoma State Heisman winner with the same name. USC quarterbacks There for a while it just seemed like USC plucked another quarterback on the roster and he became an All-American or Heisman candidate. You remember them all — Carson Palmer, Matt Leinart, John David Booty, Mark Sanchez and Matt Barkley. Now Lane Kiffin hopes he can find another big-name QB to add to the list. He’s looking at Max Wittek, Cody Kessler and Max Browne. Wittek got a few starts after Barkley was injured, but he won’t be handed the job.


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