With Snow JC’s Kurtis Taufa’s chances of qualifying for Utah close to zero, an already thin group tis in a perilous situation. Utah currently has ZERO linebackers that have quality experience. ZERO. Royce Freeman, Nick Wilson, Christian McCaffrey (should Utah meet Stanford in a Pac 12 title game), Soso Jamabo, Ronald Jones, Demario Richard, Kalen Ballage, Myles Gaskin. That’s a better set of running backs than any other conference in the country can throw out. Utah is going to need some solid linebacker player.
The question is where will it come from? David Luafatasaga was a highly sought after recruit coming from the junior college level, but with any incoming player, there are still question marks. Utah expects him to be able to start right away, but we won’t know for certain until at least a few days into fall camp. Cody Barton had a solid spring, but he didn’t have any game reps last season and is just a true sophomore. Sunia Tauteoli had minimal game reps and is a bit undersized. Marcus Sanders-Williams is back at linebacker, having changed positions for the third time since arriving on campus (he’s now a senior), but is undersized and has been injury prone. After that you’ve got walk-ons.
The possible savior? Chase Hansen. With his size, athleticism, and ability, Hansen might be Utah’s best linebacker right now, and with the depth at safety, the coaching staff may need him more as a backer than anywhere else. Hansen has a limitless ceiling and will be an impact player wherever he ends up, but linebacker makes the most sense given the need.
Still, Utah enters 2016 in a position where they can’t afford for Luafatasaga not to be an immediate impact player and can’t afford injuries anywhere. It’s a new era post Gionni and Jared, and it’s a bit scary right now.
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