LSU Wisconsin Football

Kevin Toliver is a primary candidate for one of LSU's top five position battles this spring. 

Morry Gash

LSU lost more starters (13) than it actually retained (nine) from last season’s team.

Welcome to the job, Ed Orgeron.

But there are not 13 open starting jobs, no matter what the coaches tell you.

A handful of spots are solidified, like partial 2016 starters Derrius Guice, at running back, and D.J. Chark, at receiver. Guys like defensive tackle Christian LaCouture, pegged as a starter before a season-ending knee injury in August, should have spots secure, too.

However, five positions seem more up for grabs than ever. Each of the below spots are the most hotly competitive during spring practice.

Drills begin Saturday.

OFFENSIVE GUARD(S)

Who left: Josh Boutte (exhausted eligibility), Will Clapp (potentially moving positions)

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Josh Boutte, right, exhausted his eligibility and has moved on from LSU. 

Candidates: Garrett Brumfield, Donovaugh Campbell, Maea Teuhema, Lloyd Cushenberry

The gist: Both of LSU’s guard spots could see new faces next season. Boutte was a senior, and Clapp could move to center. Teuhema has the experience advantage to snatch one of the positions. After all, he started 11 games at left guard as a freshman and played tackle and guard on a sprained ankle for much of last year. The real battle here may be between Brumfield, a third-year junior, and Campbell, a sophomore.

RECEIVER

Who left: Travin Dural (exhausted eligibility), Malachi Dupre (NFL declaration)

Candidates: Dee Anderson, Russell Gage, Drake Davis, Stephen Sullivan, Derrick Dillon, Mannie Netherly

The gist: D.J. Chark is expected to be one of offensive coordinator Matt Canada’s most lethal weapons. But who will be opposite him? And who is the No. 3? Six players will fight for that right over spring. Anderson, Sullivan and Davis are second-year players who saw time last season as true freshmen. Gage caught all five of his career passes in the regular season final last year at A&M, and Netherly is a mid-year enrollee rookie.

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Frank Herron has evolved in a competent rotation player over the last two years, but is he a starter?

DEFENSIVE END

Who left: Lewis Neal (exhausted eligibility) and Davon Godchaux (NFL declaration)

Candidates: Frank Herron, Rashard Lawrence, Deondre Clark, Glen Logan

The gist: Christian LaCouture, a fifth-year senior out last season with an ACL tear, is poised to replace Godchaux, but the spot opposite him is far from secure. Herron, also a fifth-year senior, has the lead in experience, but he’ll have to keep out talented young players like Lawrence this spring. In the summer, rookies Aaron Moffitt and Neil Farrell arrive to pose more challenges.

SAFETY

Who left: Jamal Adams (NFL declaration)

Candidates: Ed Paris, Cam Lewis, Eric Monroe, Jacoby Stevens, Grant Delpit, Xavier Lewis

The gist: Adams leaves a void opposite projected starter John Battle. Paris’ move from cornerback to safety is complete. He may start opposite Battle to begin spring, but, like Herron, the senior must thwart attempts from young players. Stevens and Delpit are highly touted rookies who enrolled in the mid-year, and Lewis and Monroe are talented second-year guys who redshirted in 2016.

CORNERBACK

Who left: Tre’Davious White (exhausted eligibility) and Dwayne Thomas (exhausted eligibility)

Candidates: Kevin Toliver, Saivion Smith, Kristian Fulton, Xavier Lewis, Andraez Williams

The gist: Toliver will begin spring drills opposite Donte Jackson, but that doesn’t mean he’ll end spring as the No. 1. A host of young guys are after the spot, including Smith, who leaped Toliver last season. Orgeron said earlier this week that Toliver had consistency problems. He also battled injuries. Fulton and Lewis are guys to watch to replace Thomas as the fifth defensive back, the nickel. 

Follow Ross Dellenger on Twitter, @RossDellenger.