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May 10, 2009

Roundtable: Biggest story lines of spring

At the College Football Roundtable, we ask each member of the coverage staff for their opinion about a topic in the sport.

Today's question: What was the biggest story line to come out of spring practices nationally?

Olin Buchanan's answer:
No spring story was more compelling than the quarterback competition at USC. Frankly, "USC quarterback" is probably the most glamorous individual position in college football. Three of the past four USC starters became first-round NFL draft picks, and two of them won Heismans. Now Aaron Corp, who has passed for 14 yards in his college career, appears to be next in line to direct the Trojans' offense. Corp's rise to starting status is an upset of sorts. Mitch Mustain, who transferred to USC from Arkansas, once was viewed a future star; now he appears in danger of flaming out at two programs.

Tom Dienhart's answer:
I think the emergence of true freshman Tate Forcier at quarterback for Michigan was huge. It is no secret a major reason the Wolverines went 3-9 in Rich Rodriguez's first season was because of the lack of an adequate quarterback for his spread-option offense. Forcier graduated high school early to get on campus and go through spring drills. He showed flashes of playmaking ability with his arm and feet, making Forcier the dual-threat needed in this attack. He is bound to make mistakes, but he also will make plenty of plays, too.

David Fox's answer:
Coach-in-waiting Chip Kelly didn't have to wait too long for his promotion at Oregon. Kelly was named Mike Bellotti's successor in December and took over the program in March. Oregon has been a consistent Pac-10 contender under Bellotti, with occasional forays into the national title race. I wonder if that will continue under Kelly. He's already proven himself to be a bright offensive mind, but can he be a head coach? He has the summer to get ready for all of the administrative duties overseeing recruiting, meeting with boosters, preparing for the season. When the fall comes around, he'll have some serious issues on the field, starting with a young offensive line and a defense that lost some key players. Still, Oregon is expected to be a top-20 team or better thanks to its offense. It won't be an easy task, but Kelly has to start somewhere.

Mike Huguenin's answer:
Quarterback is the most important player on the field, and the passing of the torch at some perennial powers seemed to go smoothly this spring - which had to ease some coaches' minds. At Georgia, fifth-year senior Joe Cox was steady and fended off some youngsters to cement his hold on the No. 1 job. At Alabama, Greg McElroy showed the capability to be the game manager the Tide needs this season. At Texas Tech, Taylor Potts showed enough skills to make folks believe the Red Raiders' passing attack won't suffer without the prolific Graham Harrell. Most important, at USC, Aaron Corp went into spring as the No. 1 guy and strengthened his hold on the job. USC has a shot to win the national title if Corp plays well this fall.

Steve Megargee's answer:
The story didn't get much attention because he plays for a poor team, but the demise of Indiana quarterback/wide receiver Kellen Lewis' once-promising career was sad to watch. Lewis was one of the nation's most dynamic players in 2007, when he threw for 3,043 yards and 28 touchdowns both school records and ran for 736 yards and nine more scores while helping Indiana earn its first bowl bid since 1993. After only two seasons, Lewis already had joined Antwaan Randle El as the only quarterbacks in Indiana history with 40 career touchdown passes, 5,250 passing yards, 6,000 total yards, 450 completions and 750 pass attempts. Maybe it was too much, too soon. He was suspended for four months in the spring of 2008 and ended up splitting time with Ben Chappell last season as Indiana went 3-9 and finished last in the Big Ten. He worked out at wide receiver this spring before getting kicked off the team for violating an unspecified rule. Lewis could have finished his career as one of the most prolific quarterbacks in Big Ten history. Now we can only wonder what Lewis might have accomplished if he had handled prosperity better.

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