Six position battles worth watching

Quarterack, running back and a handful of other key positions highlight the positions worth watching entering the start of camp on Friday.

1. RUNNING BACK: Wayne Gallman vs. D.J. Howard vs. C.J. Davidson vs. Zac Brooks vs. Tyshon Dye vs. Adam Choice
Clemson offensive coordinator Chad Morris lights up like a Christmas tree when talking about this group. He finally feels like he has the combination of speed, power and experience needed to focus more on the running game this season. Who emerges from this group is anybody's guess. If Dye is healthy, he'll factor in, but that may not be until October. Gallman was the best running back in spring practice while Howard, Davidson and Brooks have the most experience. It may come down to who gets the hot hand... especially early in the season. Freshman Adam Choice has turned heads during offseason work outs but will that continue when the pads come on in two weeks?

BEST BET: Wayne Gallman - best combination of speed, power and vision. And he's fearless between the tackles.

2. QUARTERBACK: Cole Stoudt vs. Deshaun Watson
Surprised? Don't be. While Stoudt enters preseason camp as the clear starter, it was confirmed 13 days ago Watson will not only play, he'll play on the road in the season opener against Georgia. How much, of course, remains to be seen. Watson would give Morris more athleticism in the zone-read game, which could provide massive dividends for this offense should the big plays in the passing game take a step back without Sammy Watkins and Martavis Bryant.

BEST BET: Cole Stoudt - accurate passer who will make good decisions and go through his progressions.

3. OLB/NICKEL BACK: Travis Blanks vs. Korrin Wiggins vs. T.J. Burrell vs. Dorian O'Daniel
Blanks figures to have the inside track, but is also coming off an ACL injury. Wiggins also proved worthy of playing time last year as well, while Burrell and O'Daniel are the wild cards. Given the proven experience returning in Clemson's front seven, this position will be utilized closer to the line of scrimmage this year - which could put Blanks in a position to make some big time plays.

BEST BET: Travis Blanks - a student of the game who feels more natural closer to the line.

4. TE: Sam Cooper vs. Stanton Seckinger vs. Jordan Leggett
Seckinger caught two game-winning touchdowns last season against Georgia and Ohio State respectively. Cooper could be the best blocking tight end of the bunch and enters preseason camp as the starter. And Leggett? He's the most explosive of the bunch with first-round type of talent at the position. Truth be told, all three will be utilized in ways to showcase their various strengths, but this promises to be Leggett's breakout year.

BEST BET: Jordan Leggett - he's become more physical and there isn't a linebacker in the nation who can cover him.

5. DT: Josh Watson vs. DeShawn Watson vs. D.J. Reader
Go ahead and pick your poison here. Either one of these upperclassmen could start. Reader, a junior, may have the highest upside. Watson debated giving up football after last season but quickly decided to return to school. Williams has plenty of experience and has a chance to play at the next level too. The fact that there's so much depth in the interior defensive line should help Clemson in close games throughout the year.

BEST BET: D.J. Reader - At 325 pounds, he's an immovable force.

6. RT: Joe Gore vs. Shaq Anthony
Gore needs to stay healthy and Anthony is suspended for the season opener against Georgia. What happens as the season progresses is anybody's guess. Anthony will also help provide depth at left tackle behind Isaiah Battle. The bottom line is some additional depth needs to be developed at tackle this year, but where it comes from outside of the players listed here is a mystery.

BEST BEST: Joe Gore - Has an NFL body and is finally healthy. Keep your fingers crossed that health persists. Top Stories