Loaded positions around the non-BCS

May, 28, 2009
5/28/09
12:36
PM ET
Posted by ESPN.com's Graham Watson

While some teams looked for depth this season, other realized that they were loaded in some positions more than others. Such was the case for the following teams, who are sitting pretty at some key positions on their team.

Utah
Defensive end:
The Utes slid tackle Derrick Shelby to defensive end this spring to replace Paul Kruger and add more speed to the outside. Shelby, along with end Koa Misi, could be two of the best ends in the Mountain West. Add in James Aiono, a top-rated junior college transfer, and Nai Fotu, who was moved back to end from linebacker, and the Utes are one of the deepest teams at that position.

Nevada
Running back:
The Nevada rushing offense ranked third in the country last year, mostly on the strength of running back Vai Taua and quarterback Colin Kaepernick. Both players return, but so does former starting running back Luke Lippincott, who missed the season with a knee injury. In 2007, Lippincott rushed for almost 1,500 yards.

Tulsa
Receiver:
If there's one position Tulsa will never be lacking it's receiver. The pass-happy Golden Hurricane offense consistently puts out top receivers and this year won't be any different. Damaris Johnson will headline a group that includes Slick Shelley, Trae Johnson, Charles Clay and A.J. Whitmore.

Boise State
Offensive line:
More than a dozen players played on the offensive line last season, which was a nightmare a year ago, but gives the Broncos great depth this season. Center Thomas Byrd is the anchor, but the Broncos allowed 10 other players to duke it out this spring to earn a spot on the starting line.

Arkansas State
Running back:
The Arkansas State running game ranked 18th in the country behind running backs Reggie Arnold and Derek Lawson. Both players return as does quarterback Corey Leonard, who was the team's third-best rusher. This is a trio that racked up more than 150 rushing yards in nine games last season, including 255 against Texas A&M.

Ohio
Quarterback:
Boo Jackson was the school leader in both passing touchdowns and passing yards a year ago and he wasn't the original starter. That role belonged to Theo Scott, who suffered an injury early in the year. But he's back and coach Frank Solich has opened the quarterback competition to bring out the best in both players.

Fresno State
Quarterback:
Yes, none of the three quarterbacks battling for the starting spot have any FBS experience, but that doesn't mean all three aren't as talented as some of the other quarterbacks in the WAC. Ebahn Feathers, Derek Carr and Ryan Coburn all bring different strengths to the Bulldogs, and the team can adapt its play depending on which one is in the game.

Southern Miss
Running back:
Senior Damion Fletcher is the school's all-time leading rusher, but he'll have some competition for playing time this spring with the emergence of Tory Harrison, V.J. Floyd, and redshirt freshman Desmond Johnson, who duked it out this spring while Fletcher was serving a suspension for an off-field incident.

Middle Tennessee
Receivers:
The Blue Raiders return five receivers who had at least 25 catches last season and those numbers should escalate this year with the addition of offensive coordinator Tony Franklin and the spread offense. Three other players also had double-digit catches last year.

BYU
Running back:
Harvey Unga returns as the premier back, but he took limited reps this spring to maintain his health. In his absence, freshman Malosi Te'o, sophomore J.J. Di Luigi and fullback Braden Brown shined and showed viable depth at a position that is key in the Cougars offense.

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