With spring practice one week away, let's take a look at the position battles that we think will be the closest and most hotly contested. Auburn returns plenty of talent on both sides of the ball, which always makes for an exciting spring. With two new coordinators, every player will be reevaluated, and almost every position will be up for grabs as the weather warms up.
5. Offensive Line
The only position that is not in question on the offensive line is center, with Reese Dismukes having that spot locked up. Greg Robinson will probably be the starter at left tackle, but the guard positions will be the big battles to watch. John Sullen was a starter last year, but Eric Mack and Christian Westerman are both loaded with talent, and could both start at guard this year for the Tigers. As far as right tackle goes, Chad Slade will probably take that spot, but if Sullen and Mack take the guard spots, Westerman could get a shot at tackle. Don't be surprised if all the O-line battles go on through fall practice.
4. Wide Receiver
While we all know that Emory Blake has one receiver spot locked up, all the spots behind him are up for grabs, and Auburn is loaded with talent to fill those spots. Trovon Reed has shown signs of what he can do, but he just hasn't been able to stay healthy and has been inconsistent. Quan Bray is a playmaker and is lightning quick; it will be interesting to see what Scot Loeffler does with him. We all know about the troubles of DeAngelo Benton, but he is still very talented and it would be great for him and Auburn if DLo could have a solid senior season. The wild cards are freshmen Sammie Coates and JaQuay Williams. Coates is a redshirt freshman and is immensely talented, and if not for an injury last year, he would have seen the field as a true freshman. Williams is a big, athletic receiver and it will be very hard for the coaching staff to keep him off the field. Auburn hasn't been this talented and deep at receiver since the days of the Taylor/Mix/Obomanu/Aromashadu, and that will lead to some great competition for those starting spots.
With the graduation of Eltoro Freeman, middle linebacker should be Jake Holland's to lose. Daren Bates has one outside spot locked up, but the position opposite Bates is wide open and, there are a few guys fighting for that spot. Jonathan Evans returns with the most playing experience, so it wouldn't surprise us if he got the starting nod, but Kris Frost is an uber-talented redshirt freshman and could challenge Evans. Even if Frost doesn't start, he will see the field a lot. Also, keep an eye on Justin Garrett. He needs to pack on some weight but is a solid football player.
2. Running Back
With the departure of All-SEC back Mike Dyer, the running back position looks to be wide open. Onterio McCalebb returns and will provide some experience and leadership for the young guys. O-Mac will see plenty of playing time, but we all know he is not an every-down back. That's a role that needs to be filled, and Auburn has three very talented young backs poised to step up. Tre Mason showed that he could very explosive last year and is built pretty solid (5-10, 190), and Mike Blakely is big (5-9, 206) and can absolutely fly. Corey Grant transferred in from Alabama last year and immediately got to work in the gym. He put on some weight and ripped the scout team apart. All four of those guys can really run and are game-breakers. This competition should be fierce and will probably continue through fall practice.
This is becoming a theme for Auburn -- a quarterback battle heading into spring practice. With the departure of Barrett Trotter, this looks to be a two-horse race between Clint Moseley and Kiehl Frazier. Frazier was featured mainly as a running quarterback last year and showed that he has some wheels. But his passing is what is unproven, and he looked shaky at times throwing the ball. To Kiehl's credit, he was never able to get into a rhythm and was often throwing cold, so it will interesting to see what he does actually splitting the reps 50/50. Moseley showed glimpses last year but is lacking the athleticism of Frazier. Moseley has a solid arm, but he tends to make some bad decisions and force the ball instead of taking what the defense gives him. Both Frazier and Moseley will be learning a new system, so they'll likely be fighting it out well into August.