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Battle Royale: Potential replacements must prove they’re the right candidate

Joe Podelco / Photo editor

Saturday’s spring scrimmage might mean spring practices are coming to an end, but a number of position battles are just starting to heat up. Because of graduation and suspensions, at least 14 of 22 starters from last season won’t be on the field come the opening game of the season against Akron. The spring scrimmage is the players’ last chance to make a positive impression on the coaches before summer practice. Here’s a look at the top position battles to watch Saturday.

Quarterback

The most high-profile battle is undoubtedly at the quarterback position. Senior Joe Bauserman, redshirt freshman Taylor Graham, redshirt sophomore Ken Guiton, and freshman Braxton Miller are all vying to replace the suspended Terrelle Pryor for the first five games of the season, but none has made a strong enough case to be named the starter.

Bauserman seems to be the first guy on the depth chart, but a senior getting the nod in a close battle is no surprise on a Jim Tressel-coached team and all candidates are getting reps with the first team offense.

“They shine their own day,” redshirt junior Jake Stoneburner said. “They all seem to be getting a good grasp of the offense.”

With Pryor still sidelined from surgery on his left foot, look for all quarterbacks to get equal opportunity on Saturday.

Cornerback

Perhaps the fiercest battle of the spring has been for the second starting cornerback position. Junior Travis Howard has arguably been the most impressive player on the Buckeye team this spring and has locked up a starting job, but the other corner spot is wide open.

Coming into spring, Tressel spoke highly of sophomore Dominic Clarke.

“We’ve kind of seen a transformation from (Clarke) not unlike we’ve seen from (former Buckeye Malcolm Jenkins),” Tressel said.

But Clarke has some competition. Dionte Allen, a transfer from Florida State, has shown a great open-field tackling ability in addition to coverage skills.

Sophomore Bradley Roby wasn’t necessarily expected to be in the picture for a starting job, but has played his way into the conversation. He’s shown playmaking ability and a nose for the football, intercepting two passes in last Saturday’s scrimmage.

Howard said he’s not sure how the fight will end.

“They’ve all been battling and each of them have their days,” Howard said. “I’m looking forward to see who actually comes out on top because those are three great cornerbacks.”

Left tackle

Senior Mike Adams’ suspension for the first five games leaves a hole on the offensive line at left tackle.

Sophomore Andrew Norwell and redshirt sophomore Marcus Hall have emerged as the leading candidates to fill the gap.

Norwell was the favorite entering spring practice, but Hall has been impressive, especially after being separated from the team last year because of academic issues.

Saturday’s scrimmage could go a long way in determining who ultimately gets the starting job, but Adams says either one would be more than adequate to replace him.

“Those guys filling in at left tackle are doing a great job. They’ve really made a lot of progress since we’ve started,” Adams said.

“When you’ve got two big guys like that who are athletic, as long as they know what they’re going to do, they’ll be fine for the season.”

Linebacker

Senior Andrew Sweat and redshirt junior Etienne Sabino are clear starters at linebacker, but sixth-year senior Tyler Moeller, juniors Storm Klein and Jonathan Newsome, and redshirt freshman Dorian Bell all have a chance to see the field in the upcoming season.

Moeller hasn’t participated in spring scrimmages thus far, so look for Klein, Newsome, and Bell to fight it out Saturday.

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