Which position group for Utah football is the strongest? You have to look at things in the present, looking at which is the strongest heading into fall camp, not which might develop into the strongest during the 2014 season.
For me, this question came down to two positions: running back and wide receiver. Both groups have a lot of talent, but I have to go with running backs over wideouts. There is better depth at running back, and we have seen more of the running backs. I want to see how guys like Kaelin Clay (since he is new) and Kenneth Scott (how he has recovered) perform in fall camp before I am ready to say the receivers are better.
Utah has three players who will contribute this fall at running back: Bubba Poole, last year’s leading rusher, Devontae Booker, a junior college transfer, and Troy McCormick, a redshirt freshman. Bubba Poole showed flashes of potential last year against Oregon State, BYU, and Stanford running and catching the ball out of the backfield. Poole could be a bit tentative running at times, but he can make great moves in space, in addition to being a good pass blocker. Poole did not find the endzone much last year however, only scoring two touchdowns (both rushing).
This spring fans also got a good look at newcomers Devontae Booker and Troy McCormick. Booker’s combination of size, speed, and power make me think he will be the starting running back against Idaho State. He seems like the running back that Utah can depend on to get the tough yards. I am obviously very high on Booker as he was my offensive breakout player for 2014. McCormick brings burning speed. He is a threat to score whether it is running or receiving out of the backfield. I think there are a lot of creative ways that Dave Christensen can get McCormick the ball in space whether it be tosses or sweeps out of the backfield, screens either out of the backfield or maybe as a slot receiver. While McCormick will probably not be the feature back this year, I think he will be a great change-of-pace back with big play abilities. I also think there could be some cool plays in two back formations to utilize the different skill sets of Utah’s main three running backs (Booker’s power, Poole’s versatility, and McCormick’s speed).
Utah’s offense seemed to do really well with screens to the backs last year (see Stanford and Oregon State especially). With hopefully more athletic linemen (a big focus of Christensen’s) this year and increased speed in the backfield with McCormick, I hope that the screen game continues to improve. I think that right now based on how strong of a spring the running backs had, they are the strongest position going into fall camp, but I could see the receivers overtake the running backs if Dres can catch the ball better, if Scott shows no lingering signs of injury, and if Clay plays as well as fans think he will.