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Post-spring position battles in the Big Ten

5/6/2015

Perhaps you've heard that the Ohio State quarterback battle is just a wee bit interesting this year.

But while that competition continues to gobble headlines -- albeit, to this point, without much real news -- it's far from the only interesting position battle remaining this spring in the Big Ten. Here's a look at five more to keep an eye on:

1. Michigan's quarterbacks: Raise your hand if you're not involved in the race to play quarterback for coach Jim Harbaugh. Shane Morris, most famous so far for suffering a concussion, exited the spring in front of a crowded field. But Iowa transfer Jake Rudock is jumping in this summer, along with promising recruit Zach Gentry. And maybe Harbaugh will add a few more contenders to the mix.

2. Michigan's running backs: Do you get the sense there are some unanswered questions in the Wolverines' offensive backfield? Derrick Green, De'Veon Smith and USC transfer Ty Isaac were neck-and-neck this spring for carries, but no one took the opportunity and, ahem, ran with away with it. Green and Smith are big backs who have had their moments, while Isaac brings another potentially physical presence. Of course, if Michigan's offensive line doesn't improve, it won't really matter who is getting handoffs.

3. Michigan State's cornerbacks: The Spartans have had a cornerback selected in the first round of the NFL draft the past two seasons -- Darqueze Dennard in 2014 and Trae Waynes last week. So it's a position of pride for one of the nation's best defenses, and competition for the two starting slots was spirited this spring. Demetrious Cox, Darian Hicks, Arjen Colquhoun, Jermaine Edmondson and Vayante Copeland are among the players trying to become the next big thing in the No Fly Zone.

4. Iowa's running backs: The Hawkeyes averaged just 4.1 yards per carry last season, 10th in the Big Ten, and are moving on from the Mark Weisman era. The good news is that Iowa has a large stable of players who can carry the ball. LeShun Daniels Jr. and Jordan Canzeri entered the spring as the front-runners, but Akrum Wadley also showed flashes of skill last year. And converted wideout Derrick Mitchell Jr. was one of the surprises of the spring.

5. Northwestern's quarterbacks: This spring brought a three-man battle between senior Zack Oliver, sophomore Matt Alviti and freshman Clayton Thorson. Alviti and Thorson appeared to edge out front, but at least officially, it's still a dead heat going into summer drills. The Wildcats open against Stanford, so whoever wins the job must hit the ground running.