Spring Football Primer

Today's the day it all begins. Spring football is finally upon us in Austin, which means the first football-related activities of the Charlie Strong era at Texas will get under way mid-afternoon today at Frank Denius Field.

There's plenty of reason for optimism around these parts but plenty of reason for skepticism, too, with major questions at several key positions, including, yet again, at quarterback and also across the offensive line.

Strong and his staff will use the next 32 days, including the spring game on April 19, to try and move closer to answering some of these questions.

From the quarterback battle to who won't be participating this spring, here is a spring football primer to hopefully tame your football needs.

Who won't be there?

Charlie Strong said he was going to put the "T" back in "Texas," and he flexed his muscles on Sunday night when it was learned that he'd dismissed junior fullback Chet Moss and junior defensive back Leroy Scott from the team for a violation of unspecified team rules.

The loss of Scott is a hit to the depth at DB, which is already going to be without Sheroid Evans this spring due to injury. Scott played well last season, including earning team co-special team player of the year honors. He would have factored into the rotation in some capacity, most likely at strong safety and in nickel formations.

Who will be there but won't participate?

There are several key players that won't be practicing this spring, including running back Johnathan Gray (torn right Achilles), linebacker Jordan Hicks (torn Achilles), Evans (torn ACL) and linebacker Tevin Jackson (torn ACL). There could be more but we won't be made aware of those until we speak with Strong after today's practice.

Starters minutes

Players who have logged considerable time as a starter include center Dominic Espinosa, CB Quandre Diggs, CB Duke Thomas, DE Cedric Reed, DT Malcom Brown, DT Desmond Jackson, LB Jordan Hicks, LB Peter Jinkens, LB Steve Edmond, LB Dalton Santos, OG Sedrick Flowers, OT Desmond Harrison, OT Kennedy Estelle, QB David Ash, RB Joe Bergeron, RB Malcolm Brown, RB Johnathan Gray, TE Greg Daniels, TE Geoff Swaim, WR Marcus Johnson, WR Kendall Sanders, WR Jaxon Shipley, WR/RB Daje Johnson.

2014 signees on campus

OL Alex Anderson (New Orleans/Landry-Walker) and LB Andrew Beck (Tampa/Plant) and TE Blake Whiteley (Arizona Western CC).

Key position battles

Quarterback – There is plenty of intrigue here with junior David Ash, sophomore Tyrone Swoopes and senior Miles Onyegbule. If Ash is healthy it is his job to lose. But that's a big ‘if' considering his history with concussions. Swoopes needs to make huge strides and probably isn't ready for starter minutes at this point. Onyegbule is working at quarterback to help build depth since Jerrod Heard was the only QB taken in 2014. They've all got to make big strides with it looking more and more likely that USC transfer Max Wittek is on his way to Austin.

4th WR – Mike Davis is gone, which is a lot of productivity lost. The return of Jaxon Shipley, Marcus Johnson and Kendall Sanders helps but Texas needs a fourth WR to step up. The top contenders are redshirt freshmen Jake Oliver and Montrel Meander. They've got a lot to prove before a very loaded and talented handful of 2014 signees gets to campus this fall.

Left tackle – Donald Hawkins is gone after a unsung but productive and appreciative career. The top contenders to take over his spot are senior Desmond Harrison, who has yet to tap into his vast potential, and Kennedy Estelle, who was ruled academically ineligible for the Alamo Bowl.

Right tackle – Josh Cochran had to retire from football due to a recurring shoulder injury. That leaves Estelle, sophomore Kent Perkins and redshirt sophomore Camrhon Hughes as the likely contenders.

Left guard – Trey Hopkins is gone, which should open the door up for junior Sedrick Flowers to take his spot. But there are several other viable options in redshirt sophomore Curtis Riser, redshirt freshman Rami Hammad, redshirt freshman Darius James and Junior Taylor Doyle.

Right guard – Mason Walters is gone, which means either Riser, Hammad, James or Doyle should find themselves taking his spot as the starter at RG.

Boundary cornerback – With Carrington Byndom gone the Longhorns need to find a starter opposite Quandre Diggs. The top contenders are junior Duke Thomas, who played big minutes last season, redshirt freshman Antwuan Davis, and sophomore Bryson Echols.

Strong safety – Adrian Phillips manned the position for years but with him gone Texas will have to turn to either senior Josh Turner, sophomore Adrian Colbert or redshirt freshman Erik Huhn.

Weakside defensive end – Texas needs to replace Jackson Jeffcoat, who will soon be playing on Sunday's. The most obvious choices are junior Shiro Davis, sophomore Caleb Bluiett, and sophomore Bryce Cottrell.

Placekicker – Anthony Fera became one of the most accomplished placekickers in UT history last season. With him gone, Texas will likely turn to junior Nick Jordan or junior Nick Rose. But senior Will Russ, junior Ben Pruitt and sophomore Michael Davidson are viable options as well.

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