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Top 5 Utah Athletes of 2014

2014 brought a lot success for the sports teams of the University of Utah. Who were the top athletes for the Utes in 2014?

Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

Utah had their most successful season in Pac-12 sports in 2014. Utah football finished with a winning record in conference, as well as ranked in the final polls. Basketball is ranked in the Top 10 for the first time since the end of the 1998-1999 season. Gymnastics captured the first Pac-12 title for any Utah sports team. Women's volleyball finished the season ranked for the first time since 2008. For this list, it has been limited to one player per sport to encompass a variety of sports at Utah.


Nate Orchard - defensive end

Utah football capped the 2014 season with a 45-10 win over Colorado State in the Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl. It was Utah's most successful since joining the Pac-12 with a 9-4 record (5-4 in conference). Utah was led by their defense, and Nate Orchard was the leader of that defense. Orchard was a force getting into the backfield, recording a school record 18.5 sacks and 21.0 tackles for loss. For his strong performance, Orchard was awarded the Ted Hendricks Award, given to the nation's top defensive end. Not just a pass rusher, Orchard showed versatility playing linebacker early in the season due to a decimation of the linebacking corps. There are many deserving candidates from the football team this season, but Orchard was a team leader and made key plays to help the Utes win games against teams like UCLA, USC, and even CSU.

Men's Basketball:

Delon Wright - guard

Delon Wright led Utah basketball to the 2014 post season NIT Tournament and a final 21-12 (9-9 Pac-12) record. Wright averaged 15.5 points, 6.8 rebounds, 5.3 assists, 2.5 steals, and 1.2 blocks per game last season and was named first team All Pac-12, as well as the Pac-12 All Defensive Team. Wright opted to return to Utah for his senior season, instead of entering the 2014 NBA Draft. He is a candidate for the Cousy Award for the nation's top point guard, the Wooden Award, the Lute Olsen Award, and the Naismith Award. Wright is the undisputed leader of the Runnin' Utes basketball team, which is currently ranked in the Top 10 for the first time since the end of the 1998-1999 season.

Women's Basketball:

3. Michelle Plouffe - forward

Michelle Plouffe was a force for the women's basketball team in the 2013-2014 season. She was named to the All Pac-12 team for her third time, as well as the Pac-12 All Defensive Team. She was third in the Pac-12 with 10.4 rebounds per game and third with 14 double-doubles. She also averaged 18.3 points and 2.0 steals per game. She was the ESPNW and Pac-12 Player of the Week once during the season. Plouffe was selected in the second round of the WNBA Draft (19th overall) by the Seattle Storm.


Georgia Dabritz - specialist

Georgia Dabritz helped the Red Rocks capture the first Pac-12 championship of any Utah sports team in 2014. The senior from Newburyport, Mass. was the Pac-12 specialist of the year, as well as the Pac-12 champion in vault, bars, and floor. She recorded two 10.0 scores in the 2014 season (on bars at the Pac-12 Championships and on floor at Michigan). She hit 42 of 42 routines on the season and led Utah with 22 wins (10 UB, 7 FX, 4 VT, 1 AA). Her 39.625 all-around versus Oregon State was Utah's season high. And she added to her growing total (now 10-time) of All America honors.


Shelby Dalton - opposite hitter

Shelby Dalton was the first Utah volleyball player to be named All  Pac-12 first team. The senior was also a Pac-12 All-Academic first team selection. She was second on the team in kills (344) and blocks (100), and she also recorded 122 digs on the season. Dalton finished in the Utah career Top 10 for block assists. She recorded 14 kills in the upset of then No. 2 Washington. She helped lead Utah to a final ranking of No. 18 on the season and to the second round of the 2014 NCAA Women's Volleyball Championship.