Position Battles Tracker: Version 1.0

An update on the position battles to track following the first practice of spring.

Quarterback: The media was let in for the last 20 minutes or so of practice on Wednesday. Guess who was guiding the No. 1 offense. Yep, Wes Lunt. So of course we all jumped to the obvious — Wes Lunt is the guy. But OC Bill Cubit slowed that talk, saying each quarterback spent time equally with the starting group. OK, fair enough. Still think this is a Lunt-Aaron Bailey battle, with Lunt the frontrunner at the moment. I will say, no matter who wins out, Reilly O'Toole is still going to be important to this team. He's a good guy, well respected and has as much knowledge of the offense as anybody. Cubit is giving him a look, as he is everybody, which is important to the culture of the program.

"The biggest thing is you've got to be fair," Cubit said of the quarterback race. "You've got to give every kid an opportunity."

Wide receiver: It was Martize Barr and Justin Hardee grabbing all the attention during the time with the media present Wednesday. Both Tim Beckman and Cubit said Hardee had a good day, which is important for the junior. He got a good dose of tough love last fall camp and Cubit spoke about getting after him throughout the 2013 season. That approach seems to be paying off so far.

As far as the newcomers, Geronimo Allison came up to Cubit after practice and said something along the lines of: I've got a lot to learn. Cubit said he was actually impressed with the JUCO transfer's first practice, saying he has good instincts. Just needs to get acclimated to the Illinois way and add some weight and strength. Mike Dudek is never going to have a bad thing said about him. Guy goes to work and wants to get better. He hung around after practice as long as any player.

Cornerback: I wish I had more to report here, as it appears to be one of the deepest (but still young) positions on defense. I didn't get to see enough to say much, but V'Angelo Bentley and Eaton Spence were running with the ones for the entirety of what I saw.

Linebacker: Another spot with plenty of players gunning for the title, Ralph Cooper got the nod alongside Mason Monheim on Wednesday. I expect this position to shuffle on a daily basis. I could see Cooper, the lone senior linebacker, hanging around for a while. But don't be surprised when Mike Svetina, T.J. Neal and maybe even B.J. Bello slide in with the No. 1 defense for reps. I still see Neal winning out, but I have that written in pencil — not permanent marker.

LEO: As expected, the senior Dejazz Woods manned this position. Woods had 17 tackles last year backing up Houston Bates. He's got to hold off the sophomore Dawuane Smoot, who I'm told is up to a legit 260. Smoot has the ideal size and speed to play this hybrid position. The question is, as always with the young guns, is he mentally ready? In any event, I'm not sure we've seen or heard all the names that will be involved in this battle just yet. I'm betting somebody else will emerge here, too.

Also tracking…

STAR: Earnest Thomas moved to this spot and immediately took over the starting role. Eric Finney and Zeph Grimes, another move-in, are competing.

Right tackle: Austin Schmidt's to lose.

Defensive line: This is the spot that needs the most improvement given what's gone on the last two seasons. It was Kenny Nelson, Austin Teitsma and Jake Howe repping as starters Wednesday. There's less than 0 percent chance that's the starting lineup next August though.

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