Today is Day Two of camp and as is the case every day after camp, I will have a comprehensive review of the practice, break down whatever happens that is significant and try to track the movement in the depth chart as much as possible.
Keep in mind, they won't put on pads until Friday, so there is no way really to evaluate much of anything in terms of who can play and who can't. You can't tell that until they start hitting, until there is full contact and until there is a chance for guys to show how physical they are.
You can get a sense of the skills, athleticism and speed of guys these first few days and that's what you have to try and do.
That being said, here are the top five position battles to watch:
1.) Linebacker - This is one of the few positions where the situation is ideal - there are enough good players to make for an extremely competitive camp - and regardless of who emerges the unit will be good. The great battles are outside where Todd Thomas and EJuan Price will have to make their case to unseat Nicholas Grigsby and Eric Williams. People have asked about Dan Mason. It seems like he has fallen on the depth chart some as coaches are trying to figure out what is realistic from him health wise. Again, the fact that he is walking is a miracle in itself and thus there is some concern about putting him back out on the field.
2.) Cornerback - Very similar to linebacker - a lot of good players, LaFayette Pitts, Cullen Christian, Lloyd Carrington - battling for one spot (obviously K'waun Williams will be the other starter) and whoever emerges is going to be a really good player and the other two will be reserves who provide quality depth. That's ideal.
3.) Safety - While we are on this theme of a lot of good players for a few spots, it isn't that far fetched to suggest that Pitt has four safeties, Ray Vinopal, Jarred Holley, Andrew Taglianetti and Jason Hendricks, who could all start for a lot of teams in the Big East. I can't tell you who will emerge as the two starters, I would assume Holley will definitely be one, but these battles will be fun to watch as all four of these guys can play. And again, once the dusts settles the two-deep at this position is going to be strong.
4.) Tailback - Ray Graham is healthy but he is still a ways off from being back and that is going to leave a little window open for others to try and work their way into the rotation and in Isaac Bennett and Rushel Shell, specifically, there are two guys who are clearly capable of being featured backs. So this will be a competitive situation as well.
5.) Defensive end - Tyrone Ezell moving into the mix has thrown a little bit of fire into this competition and the bottom line is that Shayne Hale, T.J. Clemmings and Bryan Murphy all need to step it up in order to solidify this spot. It will be interesting to see who emerges as the starters here and how productive the position is, especially in the pass rush.
Now, you may be saying - "hey what about offensive line" and I would answer this - from where I sit there isn't really a competition going on. I mean, Cory King is going to be given every opportunity to learn the tackle job and the other four guys who comprise the current first group seem to be entrenched pretty good. I'm sure that some of the other guys may emerge to provide depth and so there is some good competition for those second spots but it seems to me there are so few guys with experience that there isn't going to be much movement among the first group, unless there is an injury.
The same can be said at tight end - I think there are only three with experience on the team and all three will play and be utilized in different ways as they have different skill sets. And at quarterback, I suppose you could say that the Trey Anderson/Chad Voytik battle to be the back-up is somewhat interesting but there is no doubt who the starter is going to be. Ditto at defensive tackle, especially with Ezell out of the mix, kicker and punter.
Really, if you look at it, the only other position to watch is wide receiver, though you have to figure Devin Street, Mike Shanahan and Cam Saddler will play prominent roles because of their experience.
I'll continue to try and update these battles as camp progresses and the picture becomes more clear.