College football preseason practice news: USC gets Marqise Lee back; Alabama RBs fight for playing time behind T.J. Yeldon

Richard Mackson-US PRESSWIRE

Some prominent players dealing with injuries are back on the practice field, and there remains a lot of competition for playing time in camps across the country.

Position battles and injuries tend to occupy most of the headlines at this phase of camp, and that's true at several prominent programs. Southern Cal only recently got Marqise Lee back on the practice field, and in Columbia, Jadeveon Clowney has been bothered by a shoulder injury. Elsewhere, there are major fights for playing time at running back in Tuscaloosa and at tight end in East Lansing.

That news and more from around the country:

Southern Cal

The Trojans got a bit of a scare early in camp when star receiver Marqise Lee suffered an injury, but he's back practicing with the team -- albeit in a limited capacity -- and appears on track to play when the regular season starts. Nelson Agholor also returned to the practice field:

In terms of positive injury news, the starting wide receivers both returned in some capacity. Marqise Lee was limited, but participated in both practices, while Nelson Agholor was diving all over the field despite his non-contact jersey.


The Crimson Tide know who their starting running back will be, but the fight behind T.J. Yeldon for playing time remains unsettled. That fight also illustrates just how much talent Nick Saban has been able to stockpile in Tuscaloosa -- seven running backs on the roster were four- or five-star prospects coming out of high school.

South Carolina

Jadeveon Clowney has been limited in practices of late because of a shoulder injury, but it doesn't look like that's going to cost him any time in the regular season. He sat out a couple of practices recently but was back at it Tuesday, and Steve Spurrier says he'll play in the Gamecocks' opener against North Carolina. Sorry about that, Tar Heels.


The Wolverines suffered a major blow in spring practice when linebacker Jake Ryan tore an ACL; Ryan led the team in tackles as a sophomore in 2012. But that injury won't necessarily keep Ryan from playing this season -- he wants to be back on the field as soon as he possibly can be:

"Six months is kind of like the absolute (earliest) time you can start playing the game of football with a torn ACL," said Ryan, an All-Big Ten linebacker last season. "October's my goal."

Ryan is participating in some drills with the team during camp.


Normally it's the Ducks' offense that is making most of the headlines, but in camp the defense has earned attention with solid performances of its own. The Oregon secondary, which has plenty of experience and talent to lean on, is expected to be one of the strengths of the defensive unit.

"We're tight. We're tight as a unit," says junior DB Terrance Mitchell.

How good they may be is yet to be determined, and Mitchell, known for his boisterous personality was even able to deflect whether this might be the best group in program history.

"The only way to make that a fact [that they're best ever] is winning a championship," he said. "We've been around the block. We've been to a lot of big time games."

The Ducks return five defensive backs with starting experience from 2012.

Boise State

The Broncos had another fine season in 2012, once again reaching the double-figure win plateau, though the offense's production was down a bit. That could change in 2013 if workouts are any indication. The Broncos have a lot of options at wide receiver, and quarterback Joe Southwick has looked good.

During the first team portion of Wednesday morning's practice, quarterbacks spread the ball around to several different targets, giving credence to senior QB Joe Southwick's preseason assessment that wide receiver is "maybe our deepest position on our football team."

One of the best grabs was by redshirt senior Aaron Burks, who caught a Southwick pass over his shoulder while tiptoeing the sideline to stay inbounds. Southwick displayed nice touch and accuracy, including a pinpoint laser to the sideline on a back-shoulder throw to Matt Miller.

Michigan State

Tight end Dion Sims, who finished third on the team in receiving yards last season, is gone, and that leaves the Spartans with a wide-open battle for playing time at the position. Paul Lang is one of several players competing for the starting job, and he's feeling more confident after overcoming injuries early in his career.

"Definitely, more aggressive,'' Lang said, asked to compare this fall to last all. "Having last year under my belt, and understanding the offense more, gives me the opportunity to come out more aggressive.

"It's very competitive; we have a great group of tight ends. Every day we come out and compete and you can't take a play off, but the good thing is off the field we're all best friends.''


The Panthers' transition into the ACC will be led by Tom Savage, who earned the starting quarterback nod from head coach Paul Chryst on Wednesday. Savage spent a couple of seasons playing for Rutgers prior to transferring to Pitt, and that included a solid 2009 campaign in which he threw for 2,211 yards, 14 touchdowns and seven interceptions.

More from SB Nation:

Bill Connelly’s 125-team preview series is almost done

Spencer Hall’s personal Top 25

The developing Johnny Manziel autographs scandal

How ULM’s two-quarterback offense works

Projecting every 2013 college football conference race

Today’s college football news headlines

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