Ute football: What do the recent transfers tell us about the team?

Recently announced transfers Jarrell Oliver, Lucky Radley, and Hipolito Corporan tell us a bit more about the 2014 Utah Utes football team than simply that those players were slipping down the depth chart.

More often than not, a transfer is a player who wasn't going to get much playing time in the upcoming season and so decides to earn fortune and fame somewhere else. It's not often that actually happens, but you can't blame a player for wanting to play. For the Utah football team, that's the framework for three late transfers, running backs Jarrell Oliver and Lucky Radley, as well as defensive back Hipolito Corporan. As far as impact, only Corporan is a head scratcher, as the 6-1 sophomore was getting plenty of work in the spring and being talked about as a major contributor to a rebuilding secondary. So what do these transfers tell us?

Jarrell Oliver - junior, 5-8, 213:

Oliver redshirted in 2011, but played in four games the following season, starting against BYU in a 24-21 victory known for fans rushing the field… again and again. Oliver totaled just 24 yards on 11 carries against the Cougars, a 2.2 yards per carry average. Oliver broke his foot with two games remaining in the season, but racked up 52 yards on 23 carries, averaging 13 yards per game while playing behind John White and Kelvin York. In 2013, Oliver didn't see much of the field with Kelvin York taking over the starters role, Bubba Poole emerging, and both Karl "The Truth" Williams and Marcus Sanders-Williams getting reps.

What does his transfer tell us? What we saw of him in 2013 was what we'd see of him in 2014. It was a good decision for a player who wants to make a contribution to his team this upcoming season. It tells us Oliver would have been the missing man on the running backs roster with little more to do than practice. It also tells us that players like Bubba Poole and Devontae Booker are probably entrenched at the top of the depth chart, and other, younger players like redshirt freshman Troy McCormick (5-9, 172), and true freshman Tavaris Williams (5-10, 180) may get the remaining reps.

Lucky Radley - senior, 5-9, 184:

Radley is an interesting case. On one hand, few players transfer in their senior season, especially after they actually graduate from their original school. Radley, however, has elected to leave the Utes and walk on with San Diego State University. In 2013, Radley tallied 284 yards on 59 carries (a team-high 4.8 yards per carry) with two touchdowns. He also caught 11 passes for 80 yards (7.3 yards per catch) and another touchdown. However, as noted with Oliver, above, Bubba Poole and Devontae Booker appear solidified at the top of the depth chart, relegating Radley to third string at best, fighting a redshirt freshman (McCormick) for the job, as well as fighting off the challenge from Williams. If Marcus Sanders-Williams hadn't been moved to linebacker, it could have been worse.

In an interview with the Salt Lake Tribune, Radley says he loves the Utes, and the fans, but he feels SDSU gives him the best chance of achieving his dream of playing in the National Football League. Initially, one would respond, "What?!" But here's where the transfer tells us something about the team, as Radley notes that he fears offensive coordinator Dave Christensen's propensity for airing it out, particularly noting a lot of five-wide sets, limits his opportunities. Radley didn't want to be just a blocking back or just a player who catches the occasional dump off. However, having watched the spring, there were several screen plays and quick swing passes in the play book that would have benefited a player like Radley.

So we've learned that Radley didn't want to be only a pass-catching/blocking back (and one can hardly blame him for that), and we've learned Utah's offense will throw the ball… perhaps a lot. Five wide receiver sets will mean the offensive line will need to be much better this season than last, and new o-line coach Jim Harding has his work cut out for him. Such sets also offer a great deal of opportunity for the new receivers coming in, especially burner Kaelin Clay.

Hipolito Corporan - sophomore, 6-1, 172:

Corporan is the mystery man in this group. He's not an upper classman, and he was getting reps with the ones and twos in spring. Closer to the spring game, it seemed coaches were really working with Corporan. The sophomore played in 10 games in 2013, recording five solo tackles, which may not be much, but he was inexperienced, young, and Utah's secondary was porous as a sieve last season.

Corporan has announced he'll transfer to Stephen F. Austin back in his native Texas, dropping down in competition rather than walk on a major college program as Radley elected to do. This transfer tells us there may be more to the story than meets the eye, but as for the team, it tells us Tevin Carter (6-1, 215) may be locked into the starting rotation. It may also indicate senior Davion Orphey (6-0, 185) is also a likely starter. However, players like senior  Wykie Freeman (5-11, 174), junior Joseph Bryant (6-3, 208), and sophomores Reginald Porter (5-11, 181) and Justin Thomas (5-8, 178) will need to earn their stripes this season if Utah's secondary is going to improve, and highly regarded freshman like Andre Godrey (5-10, 186), Travonne Hobbs (5-9, 175), Casey Hughes (5-11, 181), and Monte Seabrook (6-0, 180) will need to produce at least one immediate impact player, likely Godfrey.

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