The Bears are in the midst of their first spring camp under new coach Matt Rhule. A new offensive system is in place, with a different set of skills being looked at by the coaching staff. Let's breakdown each position as it stands in the preseason and predict what could change in the fall. Players in italics are non on scholarship, while bolded players are returning starters.
The Bears have all of the quarterbacks on the roster now that they will have for the 2017 season. Smith and Solomon are the two primary contenders for the starting position, with Smith holding a slight lead at the moment. Solomon will be given an opportunity though, especially as Rhule has said the decision on the season start will not come anytime soon.
Brewer will be looked at, but the most likely case is him redshirting this season and grooming him for the future. His accuracy has been tremendous early in camp, as he is very comfortable in an offense that is in the same family as his high school attack.
Heard and Bennema will be look at as bench options, and should only see the field if injuries once again decimate the position for the Bears.
Terence Williams and JaMycal Hasty will form as good of a 2-man duo in the Big 12 as anyone else. Hasty has been one of the stars of the 2017 camp, showing off his receiving skills in the offense as they look to involve the running back position in the passing game. Williams, out for the remainder of the spring with an injury, is the power back to Hasty's quickness.
Smith, an early enrollee, rushed for 4,955 yards during his career at Abilene High School. While smaller than Williams, Smith is a physical runner who attacks defenders. Schrepfer received playing time last year, and was put on scholarship. He will be a depth option for the Bears once again.
The Bears will have a brand new position on the roster and depth chart in 2017; full back. Kyle Boyd, the 2011 signee out of McKinney who enlisted in the Marines before beginning his college football career in 2016, transitioned to full back this spring. The now 24-year old is working on catching the ball and his blocking, as being on the other side of the ball is a switch for him.
3-star athlete Jon Lovett will join the Bears in the fall and has the size and speed to make an early impact for the Bears.
With the loss of Ishmael Zamora and KD Cannon, the Bears will be replacing their top two receivers from last season. Blake Lynch is expected to move up into the go-to receiver role after a strong freshman campaign. He is starting to play more outside receiver as well. Chris Platt is the only other returning starter, and is looking to continue to grow at the inside receiver position.
Sophomores Pooh Stricklin, Jared Atkinson, and Denzel Mims will battle it out for the other starting spot, though freshman RJ Sneed is impressing in camp early. Tony Nicholson requested a move back from cornerback, as he continued to search for a position to make his impact outside of the returns game.
This depth chart might look the most different when the fall comes, as Tyler Henderson, Rob Saulin and possibly B.J. Thompson will be joining the roster. What Matt Rhule wants in his tight ends is significantly different than what the Bears did under Art Briles. While Briles used this position to get another lineman sized blocker on the field that would be used more as a gimmick or wrinkle in the passing game, Rhule uses his as a more traditional tight end.
Quan Jones, converted from the wide receiver position, is an example of what Rhule wants to do. While Jones will need to put on some more weight, he gives the tight end position the ability to play more vertical in the passing attack, getting down the middle of the field and making plays up the seams of the defense. Thompson (6-6, 210), Henderson (6-4, 225) and Saulin (6-6, 240) all are more in that mold than Feuerbacher and Tecklenburg who are both holdovers from the previous regime. Both will be asked to continue to lose weight and improve their speed.
The Baylor offensive line is once again the position with the most questions about depth. Baylor is down to just 8 eligible scholarship offensive linemen. Josh Malin has switched over to the offensive line, with even tight end Sam Tecklenburg also chipping in with the second unit to improve their numbers. Josh Pelzel is still returning from injury, but his being listed on the roster is a big step.
Baylor is solid with Porter, Blackmar, and Lawrence all starting quite a bit last year. Tanner Thrift has shifted over to center and is impressing quite a bit at the interior line position. Blackmar and Wilson are set that guard positions while Lawrence and Porter start at tackle. Simmons is a key backup at guard and tackle, while Pelzel hopefully can get healthy for a backup tackle position. Beard is sitting out the 2017 season after transferring from UCF, though his current scholarship status is still up in the air.
The real depth will be provided in the fall as a 6-man class of offensive linemen will make it to campus. Henry Klinge III, Eleasah Anderson, Khalil Keith, Jason Moore, Ryan Miller, and Xavier Newman are going to compete for playing time. There is a chance that as many as four could see playing time during their first year on campus, with Klinge, Newman, Miller and Anderson being the most likely to play early.