Spring Camp Battles to Watch

The 2015 Spring Camp for the Baylor Bears starts tomorrow. What are some of the key position battles to watch out for?

The Baylor Bears start their 2015 spring practices on Tuesday, February 24th. With these practices being the official start of the 2015-16 season, it is time to look at some of the new starters the Bears could be going with when September 4th comes around. With 17 starters returning from the 2014 Big 12 Champion Bears, there are just a handful of spots that are up for grabs.

Quarterback

    The Candidates -

  • Seth Russell: Junior to be, 6-3, 215 pounds

  • Chris Johnson: Sophomore to be, 6-5, 225 pounds

  • Jarrett Stidham: True Freshman, 6-3, 185 pounds

    The biggest question mark about the Bears going into the 2015 season will be the quarterback position. Gone is two-year starter and AL-Big 12 player Bryce Petty. Russell has been the primary backup the past two years, and played well in his only career start last season. Russell has by far the most experience of the three, but the Bears will still look at the two other intriguing options they have. Johnson is a former 4-star recruit himself, and one that has worked hard the past two years to refine his delivery and footwork. Stidham was the prize of the 2015 recruiting class, and the highest rated signal caller that Briles has ever signed.

      The Favorite

    • Seth Russell

      Middle Linebacker

        The Candidates -

      • Aiavion Edwards: Junior to be, 6-1, 225 pounds

      • Taylor Young: Sophomore to be, 5-10, 225 pounds

      • Grant Campbell: Senior to be, 6-1, 225 pounds

        The Bears also lost their QB on the defensive side of the ball in the other "Bryce". Bryce Hager was a 3-year started that was one of the best tacklers in the Big 12 during his career. With Taylor Young pertty much gauranteed a starting spot at one of the two linebacker spots, the Bears could look to move him into the middle and take advantage of his speed and blitzing prowess. They could also look at moving the backup middle linebacker in 2013, and the one-time starter on the outside in Aiavion Edwards back to the middle and let him use his speed and better size alongside Young. Finally, 2014 top backup Grant Campbell could be promoted to the starting spot and give the Bears some more experience in the middle of the defense.

          The Favorite

        • Aiavion Edwards

          Punt Returner

            The Candidates -

          • Cal Spangler: Senior to be, 5-11, 185 pounds

          • Johnny Jefferson: Sophomore to be, 5-10, 205 pounds

          • Lynx Hawthorne: Junior to be, 6-0, 200 pounds

            With 3-year starter Levi Norwood graduated, the Bears will have an open spot at punt returner for the first time in a long time. Norwood went from being a safe option deep to a legitimate play-maker over his career. The top backup last year was Cal Spangler, who filled in admirably when Norwood was injured early in the season. However, if the Bears are looking for more of an impact guy deep, they could look at a few different options. Johnny Jefferson was listed as a kick returner at times last year, and profiles as a guy that could play well at punt returner. A guy to watch in the fall will be J.W. Ketchum as well. This spring though, I think they take a long look at Lynx Hawthorne, who to me looks like he has the right attitude for a punt returner.

              The Favorite

            • Lynx Hawthorne

              Nickel Back

                The Candidates -

              • Patrick Levels: Junior to be, 5-11, 195 pounds

              • Travon Blanchard: Sophomore to be, 6-2, 190 pounds

              • Cordell Dorsey: RS Freshman to be, 6-3, 195 pounds

                Last year at this time, no one was picking Collin Brence to emerge as the starter at nickel back, and he went on to win the spot during spring drills and start every game for the 2014 Bears. For that starting spot, the Bears could look at these three guys, as well as a few other options. This is truly the biggest field of options for any one position. Patrick Fields was the main backup in 2014, but he lacks the size that the Bears have used in that position. However, he is probably the best coverage option of those battling. Blanchard is the fans choice, as his size, speed and athleticism make him an intriguing choice. He has the highest upside of the guys listed, and showed well at times in game action. Dorsey is another guy to watch, as he has all of the tools you want for the NB position. Outside of these three, you could see the Bears look at moving some current safeties down into this mix as well, as Orion Stewart (6-2, 200 pounds) has good size for the position, but that would open up the strong safety spot in the back-end .

                  The Favorite

                • Travon Blanchard

                  Cornerback

                    The Candidates -

                  • Ryan Reid: Junior to be, 5-11, 190 pounds

                  • Terrence Singleton: Junior to be, 5-11, 195 pounds

                  • Tion Wright: Junior to be, 5-9, 165 pounds

                  • Chris Sanders: Senior to be, 6-0, 185 pounds

                    The Bears return both starting corners, and in fact, return all of the secondary rotation. Xavien Howard is more than likely locked into one spot, but Ryan Reid had his struggles at times. The big question will be if Terrence Singelton and CHris Sanders can get fully healthy and stay healthy for the entire camp. Reid will be out for most of the spring drills (if not all), so that could open up a big opportunity for Sanders or Singelton to steal the job. With Tion Wright being talked up by Coach Bennett, and Jourdan Blake and Verkedric Vaughns coming off of redshirt seasons, the Bears will have some options to look at.

                      The Favorite

                    • Ryan Reid

                      Other Positions to Watch

                      • Left Defensive End - Shawn Oakman has one spot nailed down, but will Jamal Palmer be able to return from his ACL injury to reclaim his starting spot, or will K.J. Smith hold onto the job? With Palmer out for the spring, Smith will have plenty of chances to impress.

                        • Right Tackle - Gone is Troy Baker, who missed the last half of the 2014 season with his own knee injury. Patrick Colbert stepped in as the right tackle last year, and returns as the on-paper favorite. However, Juco All-American Maurice Porter will be looked at heavily as well as fellow Juco Dominic Desouza who could reshirt the 2015 season and have two more years of eligibility.

                          • Free Safety- Terrell Burt is back as a 2-year starter already, but he had some major struggles in 2014. Will he be able to hold off Chance Wax, Alfred Pullom, Taion Sells, or even one of the corners that don't win the starting job (Like Terrence Singelton)?


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