Utah started four different players at safety last season. Three are likely to return for the 2015 season, Tevin Carter, Marcus Williams, and Andre Godfrey. Brian Blechen, who started all 13 games at strong safety, is the lone safety who will not be back in 2015. The Utah secondary will miss Blechen's hard-hitting enforcer mentality, but they will be in good hands with so many other players returning.
Tevin Carter - senior
Carter was supposed to graduate after the 2014 season, but he will likely receive a medical redshirt after only appearing in four games due to injury. When Carter played, he showed his ability to make big plays. Carter recorded 16 tackles, including 3.5 for loss in his limited playing time. He also deflected one pass. In both of his interceptions, Carter showed his ability to find the football and make plays after the catch, returning his interception against Michigan 59 yards and for a touchdown against UCLA. Carter is fast and can lay a hit on an opposing player. Teams were not able to hit big plays down the field on the Utah defense when Carter was playing. His elite speed (he beat De'Anthony Thomas in a track meet) makes it very challenging for defenses to beat him over the top. He also showed the ability to make plays in run support as well and was not afraid to lay a big hit on an opposing running back. The only real question with Carter is will he be able to get and stay healthy for the 2015 season? If he can, watch out for a serious playmaker.
Marcus Williams - sophomore
Once Carter went down, it was often Williams that replaced him at free safety. Williams struggled early in the season, allowing big plays against Fresno State (when he came in after the starters were pulled) and Washington State. Williams had a simplified role in the defense and started to improve as the season wore on. He had his best game at Arizona State, where he recorded 10 solo tackles and intercepted Arizona State quarterback Mike Bercovici's Hail Mary attempt. WIlliams finished fifth on the team in tackles with 59 with 1.0 for loss. He forced two fumbles on the season. He appeared in every game except against Oregon State. Williams has a basketball background and played receiver as well in high school, so he knows how to high point the football. With the experience gained playing as a true freshman and another year on the team and in the weight room, expect to see improvement next season from Williams.
Andre Godfrey - sophomore
Injuries slowed Godfrey in his true freshman season, appearing in seven games. He made his season debut against UCLA when he filled in after Carter went down with an injury and could not return. UCLA was the only game he got a lot of meaningful playing time at safety, and he had his best game, recording 4 tackles and 0.5 sacks. Godfrey was a heavily 3-star (per Rivals) safety coming out of high school. His film* shows a player who can both coverage and can lay a big hit. He makes plays with the ball in his hands (he returned a blocked field goal for a touchdown). He provided coverage over the top and also lined up in the box and made plays on the ball carrier. Godfrey was banged up most of the year, so Utah fans likely did not see his full potential in 2014. Expect a healthy Godfrey with one more year of experience to improve in 2015.
Expect to see Carter lock up the free safety position in 2015 if he is healthy. Godfrey and Williams will likely battle for the strong safety position. Godfrey is more of a true strong safety than Williams (who played free safety as a freshman). Utah also has Tyson Cisrow and Phillip Afia coming in in the 2015 recruiting class. Cisrow is more likely to end up a strong safety and Afia a free safety. Utah also has South Carolina transfer Ahmad Christian who could potentially play safety (though he played cornerback at South Carolina) with all of the talent at depth at cornerback next season.
*Film curtesy of Hudl