Roundtable: Key Position Battles

The Pony Stampede staff takes a look at the key position battles for spring football!

Billy: Quarterbacks

This is the most talked about competition of the spring between Matt Davis and Ben Hicks. Chad Morris has mentioned Darrel Colbert being in there too, but after signing Hicks, it's clear the quarterback competition will be between the Hicks and Davis. Kolney Cassel transferred, Jordan Severt isn't exactly a fit and Garret Krstich is a dark-horse after starting a couple games last year.

Hicks talked with Scott Sanford about how Morris' system is similar to the one he ran at Midway High School and couple that with his solid mechanics and footwork and Hicks has a legitimate shot to take a run at the starting spot. Davis, a former four-star recruit, has now settled in on the Hilltop and is one of the leaders on the team. Davis is more fleet of foot than Hicks, but both possess the ability to run the ball, something Morris likes his quarterbacks to do.

While this position battle won't likely be settled until the week before the season opener against Baylor, during the limited time we have to watch practice, all eyes will be on the quarterbacks. Hicks' ability to pick up the playbook and adjust to the speed of the game and Davis' mechanics and accuracy will be the deciding factors for who comes away as SMU's starter in 2015.


Scott: Wide Receivers

There's no question Chad Morris' first signing class is filled with wide receivers that have the ability to contribute early. Guys like Kevin Thomas, Xavier Castille, James Proche and Alex Honey will all be given opportunities to contribute early, so what about the receivers already at SMU? Jeremiah Gaines has already been moved to tight end, and the only receivers with any kind of meaningful game experience are Deion Sanders Jr. (23 catches, 188 yards), Darius Joseph (54 catches, 379 yards) and Cedric Lancaster (12 catches, 93 yards).

Considering all of the offensive struggles last season, Morris should make every receiver spot an open battle, but because the freshman don't arrive until summer, guys like Shelby Walker and Arrius Holleman and the other returning pass catchers will have a head start in proving their worth in the new offense. Expect Lancaster and Joseph to both have strong springs, but who else will step up? It remains to be seen if Sanders or anyone else will step up and secure their spots during spring. This wide receiver battle won't be in full swing, however, until summer when the freshmen get to campus.


Patrick: Secondary

After a tough year in the secondary, SMU needs to bounce back. The Mustangs signed just one defensive back in its 2015 class, plus lost one of the team's leaders in Hayden Greenbauer. Here's what I'm watching for in the secondary in spring ball.

Cornerback saw a lot of injuries and rough play in 2014. Ajee Montes showed well before a concussion interrupted his 2014 season. Horace Richardson shook off early injuries and came on strong at the end of the season. Those two are my bets to open spring ball as the starters. J.R. Richardson needs to stay healthy to battle for a starting spot. As far as backups go, I think Jesse Montgomery will get a decent amount of snaps after showing some flashes as a freshman. Will Jeanlys and Jordan Wyatt will be in the mix too. I think backup snaps are a wide-open competition.

I think safety is a little clearer. I'm betting Darrion Richardson is going to get most of the reps at free safety. Shakiel Randolph moves from corner back to a more natural strong safety spot. But I also won't be shocked if Randolph gets reps at the star linebacker spot, in which case Richardson could kick over to strong safety and open the door for freshman Rodney Clemons or a guy like Jesse Montgomery (who can play both corner and safety) or A.J. Justice.

What I'm most anxious to see is who (if anyone) flips over from offense. Nate Halverson is a solid bet to move back over to defense. Jordan Ingram is lightning quick and could make a solid slot corner. And Courtland Sutton could move over to safety, where he played in high school.


Hatts: Running Backs

The running back position is sure to be one of the most versatile positions heading into the 2015 season and one of the most competitive battles during spring practice. The battle will likely be between incumbent K.C Nlemchi and Daniel Gresham, who sat out last season as a redshirt. Nlemchi showed flashes last season that he could be the guy for the Mustangs but a big question is whether he can stay on the field.

When he was on the field, he back was a receiving threat coming out of the backfield including having 131 yards on just 16 receptions to go with his 149 yards rushing. If Nlemchi can stay on the field, look for him to play a big role along with Daniel Gresham.

Gresham is another talented back that provides a bigger and more powerful option for SMU. Heading into his first season on the Hilltop, Gresham has a chance to grab this job coming out of camp if he can show the new coaching staff he can make some big plays for this offense. The former All Saints running back will be a threat right away both in between the tackles, as well as, make plays on the perimeter. The big back also showed the ability to break tackles in high school and turn those into big runs.

Between Nlemchi and Gresham, these two should provide a solid 1-2 punch for Chad Morris to make use of although this could be one of the most versatile personnel groupings all season long.

Also competing for playing time and looks will be Prescott Line and Darius Durall. Out of these two, Durall has a chance to have a similar role to the newcomers Braeden West and Xavier Jones who will join the group later on.


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