Tennessee began fall camp on Friday. Though it returns 18 starters, there are still some positions up for grabs.
Here are the key position battles to watch in Knoxville:
1. Running back
The Vols are looking for a revival in the run game after finishing No. 116 in the nation in 2011. Last year's starter, Tauren Poole, graduated, and three relatively inexperienced backs will battle for his spot. Neal has accounted 700 yards of total offense in two seasons on campus while splitting time between RB and WR. He'll focus solely on RB in 2012, but he must learn to hold on to the ball better after fumbling multiple times during spring practice. Lane is the leading returning rusher from 2011 with 280 yards on 75 carries. Young saw the field mainly as a return specialist in 2011. Look for him to get more of a chance at RB in 2012.
Senior Prentiss Waggner will start on one side, but the other side is open because 2011 starter Izauea Lanier is ineligible this season. Coleman will get a chance to win back the spot he lost after four starts in 2011. He is an impressive athlete with good ball skills. His problem in 2011 was that he got burned deep too many times to hold down a starting job. Teague and Gordon are veterans who have shown flashes in their careers but need more consistency. Bonner, a highly recruited true freshman, could be a wildcard in this competition.
3. Nose tackle
The Vols are expected to play at least some 3-4 defense under new defensive coordinator Sal Sunseri, who arrived in Knoxville after three years as an assistant at Alabama. Finding a nose tackle who can plug two gaps will be crucial. McCullers is the most intriguing option. At 6-foot-6 and 375 pounds, he clearly has the size, but he'll have to prove he is in shape. Couch and Hood split time at DT in 2011. Either one could factor in at NT, but both are also options to play DE in the new 3-4 scheme. Clark, a 320-pound redshirt sophomore, positioned himself as a contender for playing time after a strong spring practice showing.
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