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Key spring takeaways for each top 25 team

Clemson's Kelly Bryant faces tough competition to keep his starting QB job. John Byrum/Icon Sportswire

What have the top 25 teams learned since their spring games? What are the top decisions or the biggest moves still to come? Here's a look at the issues still facing the best teams in the country.


1. Alabama

Forget the quarterbacks for a moment. The real concern coming out of the spring is the first-team offensive line, which lost veteran center Bradley Bozeman to the draft and promptly surrendered seven sacks and many more pressures during A-Day. -- Alex Scarborough


2. Clemson

Kelly Bryant might be leading the quarterbacks after the spring, but this competition is far from over. Bryant played unevenly during the spring game and that has many buzzing over the prospect that early enrollee Trevor Lawrence could eventually wrest the starting job from Bryant over the spring. They bring such different attributes to the table: Bryant's ability to run sets him apart, but Lawrence can make the types of throws that can truly make the Clemson offense hum. -- Andrea Adelson


3. Ohio State

There's no clear leader in the Buckeyes' quarterback race, but Joe Burrow, who can be eligible elsewhere as a graduate transfer, has a decision to make after Dwayne Haskins shined in the Michigan game. The defensive line should be a force again, but the Buckeyes need some help at safety alongside Jordan Fuller. Young defenders such as linebacker Baron Browning and end Chase Young are ready to break out. -- Adam Rittenberg


4. Georgia

Justin Fields is ready to get on the field right now. Now does that mean he'll unseat Jake Fromm as the starting quarterback? No. But Fields is too good an athlete and too capable a passer for Kirby Smart and the coaching staff not to find certain packages that allow him to play meaningful snaps right away. -- Scarborough


5. Oklahoma

Despite losing No. 1 overall draft pick Baker Mayfield, the Sooners are loaded for bear again with former five-star recruit Kyler Murray at quarterback. That is, of course, assuming Murray doesn't go pro in baseball instead (Murray is Keith Law's No. 36 prospect for the upcoming MLB draft). Murray had a pedestrian spring game performance. But his tantalizing speed could be what catapults the Sooners back into College Football Playoff contention. -- Jake Trotter


6. Washington

The Huskies have the talent and experience to be the favorites in the Pac-12 again. All eyes will be on senior quarterback Jake Browning, who took a step back in 2017. For him to get back to the impressive form he showed in a 3,400-yard 2016 season, he'll need to find a go-to receiver with Dante Pettis gone. Washington is young at receiver, and while guys got valuable reps this spring, no one has assumed No. 1 status. -- Edward Aschoff


7. Wisconsin

Despite injuries limiting the receivers this spring, Wisconsin will display its best passing attack in recent memory. Quintez Cephus, Danny Davis, A.J. Taylor and Kendric Pryor give the Badgers explosiveness and depth at receiver, and freshman Aron Cruickshank impressed quarterback Alex Hornibrook this spring. Redshirt freshman tight end Jake Ferguson is another weapon. The defense has more questions outside of linebacker, as cornerback and end remain positions to watch. -- Rittenberg


8. Miami

Malik Rosier remains the starting quarterback, but the most pressing concern centers on the offensive line, which did not have a good spring. Coach Mark Richt said repeatedly it was difficult to judge his quarterbacks accurately because they had little to no time to throw the ball. Miami knew it would be tough replacing its starters on the left side of the line, but after shuffling various players throughout the spring, that prospect appears to be harder than anticipated. -- Adelson


9. Michigan State

A depth chart stocked with returning starters has very few holes, although MSU wants more playmakers to complement end Kenny Willekes along its defensive line. Freshman safety Xavier Henderson had an excellent spring to work his way into the secondary rotation. The Spartans might lack flash but not power in their run game, as Connor Heyward, son of Craig "Ironhead" Heyward, emerged this spring and will complement three-year starter LJ Scott. -- Rittenberg


10. Michigan

Jim Harbaugh overhauled his offensive staff this offseason after a disappointing 8-5 finish to 2017. The results will remain a bit of a mystery until August, but Harbaugh told reporters he felt "rejuvenated" by the new group. The staff now includes offensive line coaching veteran Ed Warriner and former Florida head coach Jim McElwain, who will coach wide receivers. The other new face expected to have a major impact on the Wolverines this year is Ole Miss transfer Shea Patterson, who learned just last week he'll be eligible to play quarterback in the fall. -- Dan Murphy


11. West Virginia

Quarterback Will Grier looked like his old self during spring ball after returning from a broken finger in his throwing hand. With Grier healthy again, the Mountaineers could be as explosive as any offense in the country, due in part to the additions of Alabama wide receiver transfer T.J. Simmons, Miami tight end transfer Jovani Haskins and redshirt freshman running back Alec Sinkfield, who was the star of West Virginia's spring. -- Trotter


12. Notre Dame

After reassessing everything, quarterback Brandon Wimbush reestablished himself as the clear leader of the offense. The line protecting him is reshaped, but the coaches like the group; Liam Eichenberg claimed the starting left tackle spot this spring, while Tommy Kraemer shifted to guard and Josh Lugg showed he belonged in the rotation. Skill position-wise, the Irish need running back Dexter Williams, receiver Chase Claypool and tight end Alize Mack to be models of consistency. -- Rittenberg


13. Penn State

Talent remains in Happy Valley. Penn State had six 2017 starters picked in the NFL draft last weekend (including No. 2 overall Saquon Barkley), but the Nittany Lions are capable of being just as explosive next fall. Quarterback Trace McSorley is surrounded by plenty of weapons and the deepest offensive line the program has had since head coach James Franklin arrived. New offensive coordinator Ricky Rahne's long history with McSorley should help make for a smooth transition. -- Murphy


14. Stanford

The Cardinal are a total mystery when you consider that they dealt with a rash of injuries all spring and barely had enough players to even host a spring game. Stanford was able to practice with only one full group at a time each day, cutting down on meeting time and extending actual practices. Stanford did find another quarterback, though, as walk-on Jack Richardson -- the only healthy QB this spring -- earned a scholarship at spring's end. -- Aschoff


15. Virginia Tech

Linebacker remains an area of concern, not only because the Hokies have to replace two of their best players in Tremaine Edmunds and Andrew Motuapuaka, but because there is not much in the way of experience or depth on the roster. Virginia Tech has zero scholarship juniors or seniors at the position, an indication there is going to be a steep learning curve across the board. -- Adelson


16. Mississippi State

If for some reason Nick Fitzgerald isn't ready at quarterback, the Bulldogs have a solid backup plan. Keytaon Thompson, who ran for three touchdowns in State's bowl game last season, took the lion's share of the reps this spring, including completing 26 of 44 passes for 316 yards in the spring game. -- Scarborough


17. USC

The Trojans will find out their starting quarterback during fall camp at the earliest. Redshirt sophomore Matt Fink and redshirt freshman Jack Sears battled all spring but neither took much of a lead after 15 practices. That leaves the door wide open for top incoming freshman and reclassified 2018 prospect J.T. Daniels, who has already been watching film with USC coaches and will be tough to keep off the field this fall. -- Aschoff


18. UCF

The Knights return quarterback McKenzie Milton and his top playmakers from a year ago, but it is possible they could be even better this season. Take running back, for example. The depth there is off the charts with the emergence of transfer Greg McCrae, joining Adrian Killins Jr., Otis Anderson and Taj McGowan. McCrae was the star of the spring game and has impressed teammates since he arrived last year. -- Adelson


19. Auburn

With no clear-cut starter at running back and two key receivers recovering from injury, it's clear now that this team will be carried by its defense, which Gus Malzahn says he believes could be one of the best units in the country thanks to a front line that includes returning starters Marlon Davidson and Derrick Brown. -- Scarborough


20. TCU

The Horned Frogs boast plenty of firepower with Darius Anderson and Jalen Reagor. But the offense will only be as good as its quarterback and offensive line. Shawn Robinson, while touted out of high school, is unproven. And the line has only one entrenched starter (tackle Lucas Niang). Gary Patterson's track record suggests the defense will be just fine. But to contend in the Big 12, Robinson and the line need to take a big step forward. -- Trotter


21. Boise State

The Broncos return 10 starters on defense, but the one they don't return -- linebacker Leighton Vander Esch -- was a first-round draft pick. How does Boise State plan to replace him? If the spring practices were any indication, possibly by committee. Blake Whitlock, Bruno DeRose, Riley Whimpey and Ezekiel Noa all got time at Vander Esch's weakside spot during the spring -- and could so too in the fall. -- Trotter


22. Texas

The Longhorns have been loading up on defense, having signed three of the top four safeties in the country. Two of those -- Caden Sterns and B.J. Foster -- tore up spring ball, casting a glimpse of what Texas could soon become defensively. None of that will amount to much, though, unless the Longhorns finally unearth their quarterback of the future. With Sam Ehlinger and Shane Buechele still deadlocked for the starting job, that future remains murky. -- Trotter


23. Texas A&M

It might take some time to truly overhaul the Aggies' defense, but this spring was a start as new coach Jimbo Fisher and new defensive coordinator Mike Elko got their first glimpse of a defensive line that looks to be a strength with seven sacks in the spring game. -- Scarborough


24. Oregon


Despite the offense beating the defense 41-7 in the spring game, Oregon's defense should be even better in 2018. Having defensive coordinator Jim Leavitt back is one thing, but this is a defense that grew over 15 practices this spring. Offensively, expect the Ducks to show as much as they can. Installing more pistol sets late in spring shows how multiple new coach Mario Cristobal wants to be, especially when it comes to showcasing all of quarterback Justin Herbert's skills. -- Aschoff


25. South Carolina

Don't be surprised if the Gamecocks' offense takes a big step forward this season. Quarterback Jake Bentley having a year under his belt will help, as will the return of receiver Deebo Samuel, but more important there will be a new look to the unit with an emphasis on playing with greater pace. -- Scarborough