Let the position battles begin

Junior quarterback Paul Thompson is ready to compete with Tommy Grady and Rhett Bomar in the much anticipated battle to replace Jason White this spring. See inside for a look at who's gone, who's back and who to watch at each position this spring. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

When the Oklahoma football team opens up spring practice Monday, there will be more questions that need to be answered than perhaps Bob Stoops' first spring in Norman.

Gone from last season's Orange Bowl team are six starters on offense and six on defense, but the Sooners do return 17 players with starting experience. Below is a position-by-position look at who's gone, who's coming back and who are the players to watch this spring.

Quarterbacks
Who's gone: Jason White
Who's back: Paul Thompson, Tommy Grady and Rhett Bomar
One to watch: Bomar. The talented redshirt freshman, who has more high school press clippings than perhaps any quarterback in OU history, will get his first real shot to live up to the hype.

Running Backs
Who's gone: Tashard Choice and Courtney Tennial
Who's back: Adrian Peterson, Kejuan Jones, Donta Hickson and Jacob Gutierrez One to watch: Gutierrez. Peterson won't go through full contact this spring, which will open up the door for Hickson and Gutierrez to get more reps in their attempt to beat out Jones as his backup.

Fullbacks
Who's gone: None
Who's back: J.D. Runnels, Dan Townsend, Russell Dennison and Dane Zaslaw
One to watch: Runnels. If want to see a big hit, try watching Runnels on any given play instead of the ball.

Tight Ends
Who's gone: None
Who's back: James Moses, Joe Jon Finley and Willie Roberts
One to watch: Finley. Finley made some big catches a year ago. The only question now is has he put on enough weight to be a double-threat (blocking and catching) tight end?

Offensive Linemen
Who's gone: Jammal Brown, Wes Sims and Vince Carter
Who's back: Davin Joseph, Chris Bush, Kelvin Chaisson, Akim Millington, Chris Messner, Chris Chester, Branndon Braxton, J.D. Quinn, Brett Rayl, Ben Barresi and Cameron Schacht.
One to watch: Millington. The biggest hole on OU's offensive line is at tackle with the loss of Brown and Sims, and that's where Millington is expected to fit in along with Joseph.

Wide Receivers
Who's gone: Mark Clayton, Mark Bradley, Will Peoples and Brandon Jones
Who's back: Travis Wilson, Jejuan Rankins, Tristen Ross, Quentin Chaney, Lendy Holmes, Fred Strong, Jermaine Hardison and David Robinson
One to watch: Chaney. The former Booker T. Washington star has all the tools. Chaney showed flashes last fall hooking up with Bomar against the second and third teams, but will need to step up and do it this spring to help fill the shoes of Clayton, Jones, Peoples and Bradley.

Defensive Tackles
Who's gone: Lynn McGruder
Who's back: Dusty Dvoracek, Carl Pendleton, Remi Ayodele, Steven Coleman and Cory Bennett
One to watch: Dvoracek. How much rust will he have after sitting out last season? Can he return to the dominating form he exhibited before being kicked off the team a year ago? Will he still play with the same fire and passion?

Defensive Ends
Who's gone: Dan Cody and Jonathan Jackson
Who's back: Larry Birdine, Calvin Thibodeaux, C.J. AhYou, Laenar Nixon, John Williams, Alonzo Dotson and Alan Davis
One to watch: AhYou. Oklahoma's intriguing junior college signee will get a chance to make an impact early.

Linebackers
Who's gone: Lance Mitchell and Gayron Allen
Who's back: Rufus Alexander, Clint Ingram, Demarrio Pleasant, Zach Latimer, Ian Pleasant and Ryan McGrath
One to watch: Latimer. The biggest hole to fill in his group is Mitchell's at middle linebacker. If Latimer is up to 231 pounds as has been reported, look out.

Cornerbacks
Who's gone: Antonio Perkins
Who's back: Marcus Walker, Chijioke Onyenegecha, D.J. Wolfe, Eric Bassey, Jowahn Poteat and Darrien Williams
One to watch: Onyenegecha. Onyenegecha went from sure-fire first round NFL draft pick to a back-up corner last season. Is this the spring he finally turns it on? He'll certainly get plenty of chances to impress with Walker sitting out spring drills recovering from shoulder surgery.

Safeties
Who's gone: Brodney Pool, Donte Nicholson and Brandon Shelby
Who's back: Tony Cade, Jason Carter, Lewis Baker and Darrien Williams
One to watch: Baker. The converted linebacker will get a chance to show from day one he can be the answer at one of the safety spots on the first team defense.

Special Teams
Who's gone: Trey DiCarlo (K), Blake Ferguson (P), Antonio Perkins (PR) and Mark Bradley (H, KR)
Who's back: Garrett Hartley (K), Cody Freeby (P), Jacob Rice (DS) Travis Wilson (KR), Jejuan Rankins (KR, PR)
One to watch: Freeby. After five seasons of the Ferguson's handling the punting duties at OU, someone else finally gets a chance.

Spring Roster


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