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Depth Chart Analysis - Utah Utes Spring Football

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Spring position battles abound for the Utes. Who has the inside track? Who are some of the surprises?

Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

It's springtime, which means it is time for spring football up on The Hill. The Utes are coming off of their most successful season in the Pac-12, which culminated in a Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl victory over the Colorado State Rams. Gone from that team are some important players at key positions. With some new (and old) faces on the coaching staff, spring ball gives everyone a chance to get an initial look at what kind of players are on the team, and who is primed to fill the shoes of some of the departed seniors. Let's take a look at some key position battles to pay attention to in spring ball.

Quarterback

Travis Wilson and Kendal Thompson seem to be pretty entrenched as the No. 1 and No. 2 quarterbacks going into the season opener against Michigan on September 3rd. The battle here is for the third spot. While implications for this upcoming season do not appear to major, this could be the beginning of the battle for who becomes the starter in 2016. Donovan Isom, Conner Manning, Brandon Cox and Chase Hansen will all be competing for snaps this spring, plus their be competing for a chance to impress the coaches. Manning is maybe the best pure passer, while Cox is extremely athletic and Hansen is maybe a bit more mature than the rest of the group as a return missionary. Isom seems to the most complete package from a physical standpoint for what the Utah coaches want at the quarterback position; so it will be interesting to see who is able to make the biggest impression out of that group of four.

Wide Receiver

Who will line up opposite Kenneth Scott? That is the question heading into spring ball. Dres Anderson and Kaelin Clay are off to the NFL, and with Scott being a big bodied possession type receiver, the Utes probably want to find a deep threat to stretch the field. Tim Patrick will likely get some serious playing time come fall, but watch out for redshirt freshman Raelon Singleton, and Delshawn McClellan as well. Singleton had shoulder surgery last year and redshirted, but has shown good hands so far in spring practice. McClellen brings the speed factor the Utes desperately need to stretch the field. Also, a wrinkle to keep an eye on is Bubba Poole, who has been spotted working with receiving coach Taylor Stubblefield. Poole always possessed good hands coming out of the backfield, and with Booker entrenched as the starting running back it could be interesting to see if Poole can line up at receiver in certain situations.

Cornerback

At cornerback Dominique Hatfield figures to start on one side, but Eric Rowe needs to be replaced. So far, signs point to Reggie Porter as his replacement. Porter was impressive last fall before a knee injury cost him is season and this spring he seems to have picked up where he left off before the injury. Redshirt freshman Casey Hughes and sophomore Tavaris Williams are listed behind Porter on the current depth chart. Watch out for junior Brian Allen, who at 6-3 200 lbs. provides the kind of big body corner the Utes are trying to replace with Rowe's departure.

Safety

Safety is an interesting spot for the Utes. Tevin Carter appears ready to take over Brian Blechen's spot at strong safety. Carter flashed moments of brilliance last year before going down with a knee injury. At the free safety position Marcus Williams returns as a sophomore having gained valuable experience as a freshman stepping up in Carter's absence. An interesting player to keep an eye on will be former quarterback and Wyoming transfer Jason Thompson. You may remember him being involved in the opening double reverse gadget play of the Las Vegas Bowl. Thompson appears to be making the transition to safety, which is not surprising. What is surprising, however, is Thompson is currently listed with Marcus Willams atop the spring depth chart for the free safety position. For someone who has never played the safety position before, Thompson has already looked pretty natural in the defensive side of the ball. It will be interesting to track Thompson's progression and see if he can actually push Williams for the starting role.

Right tackle

Junior Sam Tevi is currently listed as the starter at right tackle position. Tevi is a two year letter winner and an experienced member of the offensive line. Right behind Tevi is Jackson Barton, however. Barton was a highly touted, four star recruit out of Brighton High School. After redshirting last year, Barton will get a chance in spring camp to push Tevi for the starting right tackle position.

Defensive End

Hunter Dimick is coming off a breakout season at the left end position and figures to remain the starter on that side of the defensive line. There are big shoes to fill on the right side, where Nate Orchard starred last season. Jason Fanaika seems to have the inside track at the moment, having played on the defensive line last year before being switched to linebacker midway through the season. Watch out for junior Pita Taumoepenu though, who had 4 sacks for the Utes last season. Kylie Fitts is also eligible to play this season after sitting out last season after transferring from UCLA. Fitts was a touted prospect coming out of high school and has earned good reviews from coaches since coming over last year. Fitts primarily plays on the left side which happens to be where Dimick is anchored, but expect him to push the other defensive lineman and make it into the rotation.

The Utes first full contact practice of the year is on Tuesday from 3-5pm. The team will have two scrimmages on April 11th and 18th from 10am to noon, and will wrap up spring football with the annual spring game on April 25th at 1 pm.