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Spring non-QB position battle: Texas A&M receivers

Senior Damion Ratley has the most experience among the large contingent of Texas A&M receivers competing for playing time alongside Christian Kirk this season. Ken Murray/Icon Sportswire

Position battles are a key part of spring practice. Players have 15 practices to make their case to win a starting job or set the stage for a competition that continues into the summer camp.

This week, we're looking at key position battles -- excluding quarterback -- for each SEC team. Here, we turn our attention to Texas A&M, which has several battles at receiver.

Departed: Josh Reynolds, Ricky Seals-Jones, Speedy Noil, Jeremy Tabuyo, Ed Pope, Frank Iheanacho, Boone Niederhofer

Spring contenders: Christian Kirk, Damion Ratley, Kemah Siverand, Quartney Davis, Roshauud Paul, Jhamon Ausbon, Hezekiah Jones, Moses Reynolds, Kirk Merritt, Clyde Chriss, Kendrick Rogers

Summer contenders: Keldrick Carper, Camron Buckley

The skinny: There are three receiver spots up for grabs. Kirk -- an All-SEC player -- is the lone returning starter and lone surefire option for whoever winds up as Texas A&M's quarterback.

After that, receiver jobs are available. Come one, come all.

Texas A&M has no shortage of bodies to compete for the jobs and spots on the depth chart -- the Aggies traditionally use four-receiver sets, thus their aim is to get eight receivers into the regular rotation. The question is which receivers will step in for Reynolds, Seals-Jones and Noil, all multi-year starters who are now NFL-bound.

Ratley, a senior, has the most experience of the group but has yet to really break through. He started six times in 2015 but only once in 2016 (vs. UCLA, when Noil was suspended).

The most excitement and buzz this spring is around the young corps of receivers participating in spring drills. Davis, an ESPN 300 recruit in 2016, missed last season with an injury but is healthy and participating in spring practice. A trio of true freshman who enrolled early from the 2017 recruiting class -- Jones, Ausbon and Paul -- will each have a legitimate shot to compete for playing time.

Jones is the highest-rated recruit of the bunch (No. 113 in the ESPN 300); Ausbon (No. 135) was one of three recruits in the Aggies' class from Florida's IMG Academy and a former LSU commit; and Paul (No. 196) was a three-time state champion quarterback for Bremond (Texas) High and is moving to Kirk's position, where he gets the benefit of learning from an All-SEC player.

Not to be discounted are two players who practiced but didn't see the field last season: Merritt and Rogers. Merritt, originally an Oregon signee, had to sit out last season per NCAA transfer rules but is eligible this season. He was the No. 146 player in the 2015 ESPN 300 and a player Texas A&M heavily recruited out of high school. Rogers, a three-star recruit from Texas A&M's 2016 class, redshirted last season. But he has nice size (6-foot-3, 210 pounds) and could be an intriguing option along the outside.

Chriss and Moses Reynolds -- who moved to receiver from safety and is the younger brother of Josh Reynolds -- are two other redshirt freshmen who will compete for playing time.