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Top 10 Utah Athletics Storylines: #6 Devontae Booker Returns

The 2015 Utah football team got a huge boost when star running back Devontae Booker chose to return to school for his senior year, that story checks in at #6 on our top 10 Utah athletics storylines

Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

When the 2014 Utah Football season ended, many assumed that they'd seen the last of Devontae Booker in a Utah uniform. Booker had big games versus Arizona State, UCLA, USC, and a huge game at Oregon State, racking up 229 yards, with three touchdowns, including the game winner in overtime. Booker showed that he was a receiving threat as well versus Oregon, as the Ducks held him to 68 yards on the ground, but he accumulated 110 yards receiving through the air, including a couple acrobatic catches out of the backfield. Booker seemed as good as gone.

When he didn't announce his intentions to leave or stay right away, many seemed stunned. Booker eventually decided to stay and was pretty casual about it, but why? He seemed to many as an early round pick in the draft. As the NFL Draft played out, for the first time in a couple years running backs were taken in the first round. Staying another year and having continued success, may get him a higher draft position in next year's draft. Higher than he may have gone in the 2014 NFL Draft. Another thing that may have led to his decision to stay for his senior season is his need to learn to pass block better. A few times in 2014, missed blocks, despite racking up other stats, saw him standing on the sidelines for a few plays. Booker also struggled to hang onto the football at times during the season, especially against USC. Many believe the reason he was not the starter from game one last season was because of ball security issues.

Also, Booker likely wants to get that single season rushing record he missed out on last year. Utah coaches left him in the Las Vegas Bowl versus Colorado State, knowing he wanted the record. Thinking he had broken the record, he was brought to the sideline with congratulations, only to find out later he had come up seven yards shy of John White IV's 2011 mark. "I'm gonna pop that ball", was Booker's statement as Kyle Whittingham broke the news to him. No doubt that 1,519 yard mark will be in his sights.

Another big reason is the opportunity to win the Heisman Trophy, and/or the Doak Walker award, which are given to the best player and running back respectively in college football. If he has a better season this year than last, he will have an opportunity to compete for those awards. Kyle Whittingham has told various media outlets that he believes that 2,000 yards is possible for Booker, and stats like those would be Heisman type numbers.

No doubt Booker's decision to return for 2015 will be huge for the Utes. He will have the chance to help Utah have a better season, and possibly their best in the Pac-12. He will also have a lot of opportunities, on some of the biggest stages to show the nation and the NFL the type of player he is, and his potential at the next level.