A-list position battles: Arizona State

Second in a series taking a look at top position competitions this fall.

Arizona State: Free safety

Why the competition? Jarrell Holman and Ryan McFoy, who combined for 18 starts at safety in 2009, are gone, while Clint Floyd, who started three games at free safety, was listed No. 1 at strong safety at the end of spring practices.

Candidates: Sophomore Keelan Johnson (6-0, 199) and junior Eddie Elder (5-10, 186).

The skinny: Johnson saw extensive action last year and started one game. He finished with 11 tackles. He's one of the Sun Devils' best all-around athlete -- which is saying something given how athletic the team's defense is -- and he had a solid spring. Elder, the reigning California Junior College Defensive Player of the Year winner, however, showed big-play ability by intercepting three passes in the final two scrimmages. That earned him high praise from some of his comrades in the secondary. "Eddie's going to make some big plays for us," cornerback Omar Bolden told the Arizona Republic. Both of these guys will play. But only one will run onto the field with the starting unit.