NCF Nation: Brad Hicks
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
Spring practice is a time for competition across college football. Clashes for jobs are as much a part of offseason work as gassers and not hitting quarterbacks in inter-squad games and scrimmages.
Some of the spring competition across the Big 12 will be particularly notable. Here are some positional battles that bear watching over the next few weeks.
Nebraska quarterback: Even though Patrick Witt left, there still should be an intense battle between Zac Lee, Kody Spano and heralded freshman Cody Green to replace Joe Ganz. Don't expect this battle to be settled until shortly before the season -- perhaps the major reason Witt decided to leave for another opportunity.
Oklahoma right tackle: Although the Sooners' offensive line should be their most pressing concern this spring, there will be notable competition at one position. Trent Williams has moved to left tackle to protect Sam Bradford's blind side. That will leave Cory Brandon and heralded LSU transfer Jarvis Jones battling for snaps on the other side.
Texas running back: The Longhorns have to develop some kind of running threat to keep from using Colt McCoy too much again as a runner. Without a dominant back, it looks like Mack Brown again will opt for a rotation-by-committee setup. Fozzy Whittaker has impressed coaches with his breakaway burst, but must stay healthy. Vondrell McGee will get his chance, but better learn how to pick up blitzes better. Redshirt freshman Tre' Newton has shown flashes of becoming the next Chris Ogbonnaya because of his receiving abilities. Cody Johnson might be the best move-the-pile runner if he can stay in shape. And all of this is before heralded incoming freshman Chris Whaley arrives this summer.
Colorado quarterback: Cody Hawkins arrives as the favorite because of his experience, but burning Tyler Hansen's redshirt last season indicated the need at that point of the season for a change. Both will compete for the job along with true freshmen Clark Evans and Matt Ballenger, who appear to have some of the qualities of both of last season's starters.
Texas Tech kicker: Matt "Lynwood" Williams was one of the best stories in college football when he joined Texas Tech's team after coaches discovered him in an in-game kicking promotion. Williams converted 33 straight extra points, but wasn't counted on to kick field goals very often. Donnie Carona, who received a rare scholarship offer from Mike Leach before last season, could be poised to challenge if he can forget about last season's struggles. And Blinn College kicker Brad Hicks will try to walk-on at the position. Whoever emerges has to boost Tech's kicking after the Red Raiders converted only seven field goals to tie for the second fewest in the Big 12. The Red Raiders' field-goal conversion rate was 54 percent -- second worst in the conference.
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
National Signing Day is five days away with the most important recruiting weekend of the season approaching at many schools. Here are a few of the late stories that people across the Big 12 are talking about.
- Top wide receiving prospect Rueben Randle is headed to Auburn this weekend, even though he doesn't count the Tigers among his finalists, the Columbus (Ga.) Ledger-Enquirer's Andy Bitter reports. Randle's finalists are presumed to be LSU, Oklahoma and Alabama. Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops made an in-home visit to Randle on Thursday night.
- There's a reason why Colorado coach Dan Hawkins doesn't like to publicize his recruiting lists until after signing day, according to the Rocky Mountain News' B.G. Brooks.
- Keller (Texas) linebacker Brandon Mahoney, an early commitment to Oklahoma who is still weighing other options, will be among a group of players visiting Texas Tech this weekend. Others include Carrollton Newman Smith defensive end Aundrey Barr, Longview defensive end Chris Knighton and Blinn College kicker Brad Hicks, Lubbock Avalanche-Journal reporter Don Williams writes.
- Baylor picked up a verbal commitment from Houston Stratford defensive end Terrance Lloyd, who reneged on an earlier commitment from Missouri, Waco Tribune-Herald reporter John Werner writes.
- Nebraska has pulled its scholarship offer to linebacker Shawn Bodtmann of West Scranton (Pa.) High School after he struggled with injuries during his senior season, Mitch Sherman of the Omaha World-Herald writes. Mike DeAntona, Bodtmann's high school coach, said the Cornhuskers' practice was unethical.
- Terry Hawthorne of East St. Louis, Ill., named by Parade Magazine as the nation's top high school receiver, told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch's Stu Durando that he's now considering Oklahoma along with Illinois.
- St. Louis Post-Dispatch columnist Bryan Burwell defends Missouri commitment St. Louis Gateway Tech defensive lineman/tight end Sheldon Richardson's opportunity to make a late recruiting visit to Miami on the weekend before National Signing Day.