Chip Brown’s Take
There are so many key position battles going on (especially if you include QB) it's exciting and unnerving all at the same time - because the outcomes are unknown at this point.
The battles for starting status at the WR position are big-time. Same on the offensive line. There's a big-time battle going on at MLB with guys like Tim Cole, Anthony Wheeler and Cecil Cherry. And Peter Jinkens won't go down without a fight, right?
The position battle that has my full attention, however, is at cornerback. With Sheroid Evans' (knee) season in doubt, there is a starting position on the line (and maybe two) depending on the readiness of freshmen Holton Hill, Davante Davis and Kris Boyd.
Veterans such as Bryson Echols and Antwuan Davis are going to make their claim. But I think a guy like Hill, who I've said repeatedly was the best CB in the state of Texas in the 2015 class, will end up in the starting lineup.
Redshirt freshman John Bonney has already laid claim to the nickel corner position, and I don't see Bonney getting beat out for that job.
Then, the question becomes if Duke Thomas, who will be a senior this season and has never led the defense in INTs, can hang onto his starting position?
Thomas has tools, but he just hasn't made the kind of plays a guy who has played in as many games (23 starts, 39 games played) as he has should make, in my opinion.
For Thomas' sake, you hope he's ready to take a big jump, because he has big-game experience. Otherwise, a guy like Echols, Antwuan Davis, DeVante Davis or Boyd could rise up. That's what competition is all about - pushing everyone to get better. It's been sorely lacking, but that position competition is everywhere right now.
William Wilkerson’s Take
I’m not sure the intrigue surrounding position battles for this program has been this entertaining in a long, long time.
Of all the position battles, though, I’ve got to go with middle linebacker as the best non-QB battle going right now.
Tim Cole took steps forward during the spring in his first real action as a valuable member of this defense. Dalton Santos, one could argue, was having his best spring before he went down with injury. Peter Jinkens is hard to count out because he’s so athletic.
But will they be able to keep these talented freshmen at arm’s length through fall camp? Or is it just a matter of time before Anthony Wheeler and Cecil Cherry take over?
Bedford hates to play true freshmen but what if Wheeler/Cherry give him no choice but to start a true freshman in the teeth of UT’s defense at Notre Dame to kick off the season opener? I don’t think it will happen. I do think Cole will start the season at MLB.
But I do believe it’s only a matter of time before Wheeler/Cherry, especially Wheeler, makes his mark on this defense. They are as good as advertised, which has to excite the hell out of you.
Surround Wheeler and Cherry with Malik Jefferson, Cameron Townsend, and Edwin Freeman and you’ve got the makings of perhaps the best position group for the Longhorns over the next two to three years. And that doesn’t even include the haul they could make at LB in 2016.
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