SEC spring position battles: LSU Tigers

Spring practice means there are starting jobs up for grabs across the country, and the SEC is no different. We continue our team-by-team look at the conference’s top position battles with LSU:

1. Linebacker: With senior Kendell Beckwith (knee) sidelined for several of the Tigers’ spring practices to date, new defensive coordinator Dave Aranda has had plenty of time to examine his other options at the position. Those options include seniors Duke Riley and Corey Thompson at outside linebacker and juniors Donnie Alexander, Devin Voorhies and M.J. Patterson inside.

It should be noted that early enrollees Devin White and Michael Divinity are also participating in spring practice. White, at 6-foot-1 and 255 pounds, certainly looks the part at inside linebacker and has already earned praise from his coaches.

Now that spring break is over, Beckwith should be back after LSU returns to the practice field on Tuesday. The 2015 Butkus Award semifinalist is the lone sure thing in this group, and it will be highly intriguing to see how Aranda uses the position in the April 16 spring game and beyond as he installs a new 3-4 base defense.

2. Offensive line: Of particular interest this spring is offensive tackle since the Tigers must replace starters Jerald Hawkins and Vadal Alexander. Whatever Jeff Grimes decides at those two positions will likely affect the starting lineup at the guard and center spots.

Sophomores Maea Teuhema and Toby Weathersby are among the leading contenders at left and right tackle, respectively. K.J. Malone, George Brown and Chidi Okeke are also in the mix at those positions.

Senior center Ethan Pocic and sophomore guard/center Will Clapp also seem to be surefire starters for Grimes, although Pocic is out this spring while recovering from hip surgery. It’s possible that he could figure into the competition at tackle during preseason practice, but he might also remain at center.

Assuming Teuhema, Weathersby, Pocic and Clapp are four of Grimes’ starters, that leaves one position open -- most likely at guard. LSU’s offensive line coach has plenty of possibilities to explore there, including Malone, Garrett Brumfield, Josh Boutte and Adrian Magee. Teuhema and Weathersby also played guard last season if their transition to tackle short-circuits.

3. Wide receiver: While it is tempting to use this third slot to discuss the quarterback battle between Brandon Harris and Danny Etling, we’ll spill plenty of ink on that position later. For now, let’s talk about a receiver position where plenty of playing time is available.

For starters, senior Travin Dural (hamstring) is out for spring. In addition, two more receivers who played a lot of downs in the last two seasons -- John Diarse and Trey Quinn -- decided to transfer. Aside from junior Malachi Dupre, the Tigers don’t have a wealth of experience available this spring.

D.J. Chark has once again generated buzz this spring after drawing raves last spring and preseason before a quiet sophomore season. Tyron Johnson and Jazz Ferguson could play bigger roles after contributing in limited capacities as true freshmen, and Derrick Dillon is coming off a redshirt year. In addition, two players who are moving from other positions, Tony Upchurch (fullback) and Russell Gage (defensive back), have been practicing with the wideouts this spring.

Finally, Stephen Sullivan and Dee Anderson are already on campus early enrollees. Those two -- plus fellow 2016 signee Drake Davis, who arrives this summer -- might also figure into new receivers coach Dameyune Craig’s plans for this season.