The gridiron Commodores are on spring break right now, and are set to begin spring practice on March 17, the Wednesday after they return. And for some reason, the annual Black & Gold Scrimmage on April 10 has still not been picked up by ESPN.
Here are some key battles you'll see in spring practice on the offensive side of the ball:
1. OFFENSIVE LINE: Joey Bailey vs. Wesley Johnson vs. Caleb Welchans vs. Mylon Brown
Looks like we've got our starting tackles — James Williams on the right and Ryan Seymour on the left — as well as Kyle Fischer at one of the guards. The remaining two starters will probably come from fifth-year senior Joey Bailey, last year's backup center; redshirt freshman Wesley Johnson, a talented guy who can play anywhere on the line but still needs to add bulk; redshirt sophomore Caleb Welchans, who saw meaningful action last year; and hulking redshirt freshman Mylon Brown. Other contenders include junior Chris Aaron, converted defensive end Jabo Burrow, redshirt freshman Justin Cabbagestalk, sophomore Richard Cagle and junior Rob Ashabranner.
2. QUARTERBACK: Larry Smith vs. Jordan Rodgers
Most people think Rodgers will either push Larry to get better or take his job altogether. If he's an accurate passer and can run the spread, we could have another full-fledged battle that isn't decided until the last minute. Meanwhile, expect Charlie Goro, the redshirt freshman with nothing to lose, to increase his stock.
3. THIRD WIDE RECEIVER: Brady Brown vs. Akeem Dunham
John Cole and Udom Umoh were far and away our best receivers last year, which wasn't saying much, but both should remain starters next season. While most people think the third receiver position will be filled by one of the true freshmen (Jonathan Krause, Chris Boyd and Jordan Matthews), don't count out Brady Brown, who played as a highly touted true freshman but still hasn't caught a pass, and Akeem Dunham, a tall, athletic guy who's still learning the position. Both will get competition from fifth-year senior Turner Wimberly, who started one game last year, and Tray Herndon, a junior who appears to have peaked as a freshman at Minnesota. This is certain: If any of these guys want to get meaningful playing time, they'd better make a splash before the young guys graduate from high school and arrive on campus.
4. BACKUP RUNNING BACK: Wesley Tate vs. Kennard Reeves
Warren Norman and Zac Stacy have established themselves as legitimate SEC running backs, and Wesley Tate has the skills to join them. But don't count out Reeves, a tough grinder and special teams veteran who's starting his fifth season with the Dores.