The Bears have their first practice of the 2014 fall scheduled later today at 2:50 at the Highers Athletics Complex. With the defending Big 12 Champions looking to make even more noise in 2014, what are a few things Bear fans should keep an eye on as camp starts?
1. Where does Terrence Singleton End Up?
The sophomore from Port Arthur was a popular man this spring. Listed as a safety, he got quite a bit of playing time all over the defensive backfield all spring. He started out at the Free Safety spot, taking injured Terrell Burt’s reps, then switched to cornerback where the Bears are replacing both starters. Singleton won a starting cornerback position going into the fall, and is listed at the spot opposite of Xavien Howard. With the Bears bringing on two junior college players in Chris Sanders and Tion Wright though, could Singleton be used more effectively somewhere else? Could he even be the answer for a little while at the nickel back position? While not the hitter the Bears have featured there in the past, he is physical for a corner, and would bring great coverage skills to the position as well.
2. Does Aiavion Edwards wrap up the Outside Linebacker spot?
Listed as the starter at Eddie Lackey’s former position, weakside linebacker, Edwards is in the driver seat for a starting role. However, two redshirt freshmen and a junior college transfer should battle Edwards for that coveted starting spot. Grant Campbell is listed as the primary backup to Bryce Hager in the middle, but his speed could translate to the outside as well. Taylor Young, the undersized bowling ball from Desoto and Raaquan Davis are both battling for that outside linebacker position as well. Edwards has the most experience at Baylor, so he is in the driver’s seat. This is one of the top fall camp position battles to watch.
3. How does the corner-back rotation sort out?
This ties in a bit to the first question, but how will that rotation go? Right now, Tion Wright isn’t even listed on the 2-deep after an injury plagued spring. Chris Sanders was also limited in the spring and is listed as a co-starter with Xavien Howard. Ryan Reid showed flashes as well and could be leaned on for a larger role, and of course there is Terrence Singleton. So, who will step up and grab one of the two starting spots, or will there still be a large rotation with no set “starters” as we go into the 2014 season?
4. Is Corey Coleman ready to take that next step?
The Bears are not short on returning talent on offense, especially at the wide receiver position. They have one of the best receivers in the nation in Antwan Goodley, and a host of young and developing players around him. Possibly the key one in that group is Corey Coleman, who is expected to take on a very large and important role in 2014. Coleman stepped into the lineup last year when Tevin Reese was injured in the OU game. The then freshman showed some flashes of what made him a 4-star recruit, but the Bears offense did suffer with the downgrade in performance from Reese. Coleman now is the man, all by himself, and will have to be the big-play guy to stretch the field, either deep or vertically and give the Bears a dangerous speed weapon in the middle.
5. Will the offensive line gel?
It seems to happen every year. The Bears lose an All-American caliber offensive lineman, and have to replace him. They have a question mark that seems to be a glaring issue, and yet every year, the offense line has continued to play at an elite level. This year, Cyril Richardson is no longer destroying humans from his left guard position. The Bears are also replacing two other starters on the offensive line, though that number might be exaggerated due to the tackle injuries from 2013. The fact is, the Bears have a tremendous amount of talent on the line, with Spencer Drango leading the way from his left tackle position. The key will be how the rest of the positions line up. Will Blake Muir settle inside, though tackle appears to be his better position? Will Troy Baker return to full strength and improve on his stellar sophomore campaign two seasons ago? Will Kyle Fuller anchor the middle and provide a multi-year starter at center for the first time in a few seasons? There are a lot of questions, but also a lot of very good possible answers for the Bears.