It’s two weeks to the start of Fall Camp for the University of Utah. It’s been an interesting last month with the arrest of Utah’s top defensive back, Dominique Hatfield, and his status still up in the air at this time. We will be in Los Angeles next week for the annual Pac 12 Conference Football Media Days and find out where the media ranks Utah in the preseason poll. My guess is that Utah will be picked 4th or 5th in the Pac 12 South, which is the area where theey finished a year ago. My expectations for the Utes are slightly higher, is my guess, than fellow Pac 12 Media Members. I’ll reveal my Preseason Pac 12 Ballot next week, but I’ll tell you that I expect Utah to have a big season and challenge for the Pac 12 South Title in a big way this year.
That said, I do have some questions that will need answering heading into fall camp for the “potential” big season to come to fruition.
1. Who are the Offensive Weapons?
Gone are Dres Anderson and Kaelin Clay to the National Football League. Troy McCormick is out for the season rehabbing his knee. We know who Devonte Booker is, but who else will be able to make plays for the Utah Offense this season? This to me is the biggest single question with this edition of Utah Football.
The easy first answer is Kenneth Scott. A senior wideout who has battled injuries and lived in the shadow of Dres Anderson for the last couple of year. Scott has shown the ability to catch the football, but hasn’t shown big plays often in his Utah career. Scott must lead the way from a leadership and playing making standpoint in the wide receiving corps. After Scott, is where the questions really begin. There are lots of names but little proven production: Tim Patrick, Delshawn McClellon, Raelon Singleton, Jameson Field, Tyrone Smith, ect. Utah will lean heavily on Devonte Booker in a number of ways this fall, but to win in the Pac 12 they will have to make plays in the passing game. This will be the biggest and evolving storyline during fall camp. Aaron Roderick and Jim Harding are going to be challenged!
2. What will the Secondary look like?
The aforementioned Hatfield incident has thrown a bit of a wrench into the Utah Secondary. Two weeks away from Camp we still don’t have a real idea whether Utah’s best DB will be back with the team. So we’ll continue with the current status, that Hatfield is done with Utah. This opens up a major hole on the outside, with that said Utah is in much better shape to deal with a loss like this now versus a few years ago. Reggie Porter, who missed last season with an injury, was the most likely candidate to fill Eric Rowe’s vacant corner position and we’ll keep him there for now. Wide Receiver turned Corner, Bryan Allen who had a big spring, should have the inside and early advantage to take Hatfield’s spot, with JC transfer Cory Butler pushing for the spot as well. Justin Thomas will continue to patrol the nickel/slot spot.
As inexperienced as the corner spot appears, the safety positions look to be more firmed up and experienced. Providing he’s healthy, Tevin Carter will hold down the strong safety spot. Jason Thompson, the Wyoming transfer and former QB, is the early leader to land the Free Safety position next to Carter. There’s no questioning his athleticism, the only thing he lacks is any experience at the position and the defensive side of the football. Marcus Williams and Andre Godfrey will push Thompson for playing time at FS.
Lots of talent, but still a lot of questions in the Utah Secondary.
3. Can they replace Clay?
There’s very little doubt a great deal of Utah’s Success last season was due in large part to the return abilities of Kaelin Clay. Clay’s ability to not only return both punts and kicks for touchdowns but also flip the field can’t be undersold. Returning punts and kicks is a special ability, is goes beyond just being fast. Utah has a bunch of fast guys, but do they have someone with Clay’s skill set. Right now Bubba Poole, Boobie Hobbs and Monte Seabrook are the most likely candidates right now, but the situation will be very fluid once camp begins. For a team without a ton of proven playmakers on offense, the ability to find an outstanding return man would be huge.
Camp Kyle begins August 6th and that’s when we’ll get a clearer picture on the above questions and more.
Subscribe to ESPN700's News!
Get the latest sports news, contests and flyaways, and more straight to your inbox with our weekly emails.