Utah focuses on D line, backs and QBs
Utah used national signing day to load up on defensive linemen,
running backs and quarterbacks as those were the three most
pressing needs for a team coming off a 5-7 season.
The Utes lost three starters along the defensive line in Star
Lotulelei, and Dave and Joe Kruger. They signed a handful at the
position, including two from Trinity High School in Euless, Texas –
6-foot-5 defensive end Sam Tevi and 6-5 defensive tackle Keio
Vaenuku. The Utes added 6-4 offensive tackle Salesi Uhatafe, also
With just one quarterback returning who has played a college
game, the Utes signed three prep stars in Brandon Cox, Conner
Manning and Micah Thomas.
Utah returns Travis Wilson and Adam Schulz, both freshmen last
season, at quarterback.
Utah also signed four running backs as the Utes aim to replace
Devontae Booker, a junior college transfer from California, is
expected to push Kelvin York.
The Utes needed help at cornerback, having lost both starters
and their nickel back. They added one-time Cal signee Tevin Carter
and JC transfer Davion Orphey.
”We helped ourselves with speed and size,” said coach Kyle
Whittingham, addressing areas that were notable deficiencies in
making the jump to the Pac-12 Conference two years ago.
The Utes have only three Utah players in this year’s recruiting
class but Whittingham said others cannot be announced yet as they
are headed on church missions first.
”There are some Pac-12 schools that did very well, the usual
suspects,” Whittingham said. ”I think we’re holding our own. It’s
”The NFL is full of guys who have come through here and weren’t
Whittingham said he was able to lure three quarterbacks because
it is more appealing to be competing against each other as opposed
to well-established players.
He also said the flip-flopping of Aaron Roderick had no impact
on recruiting. Roderick is Utah’s receivers and passing game
coordinator, and a day after accepting a position at his alma mater
Brigham Young in mid-January, opted to return to Utah.
”I’m just glad he’s here,” Whittingham said.