[UPDATE: DOMINIQUE HATFIELD HAS BEEN DISMISSED FROM TEAM]
With the recent announcement from Kyle Whittingham that Dominique Hatfield has been indefinitely suspended due to his off the field issues, someone else may need to step up and fill the position that is now vacant. On a team that is known for producing NFL caliber talent at the corner back position, there are quite a few good options to take over the starting spot.
Justin Thomas could slide over from his nickle back to the starting corner spot. Wiith the defense that Utah runs, the nickle back position is almost always on the field. That would be an unlikely scenario, as Thomas has seems to be at home at the nickle.
Another possibility would be the Ahmad Christian, the transfer from South Carolina. The Jacksonville, FL native had one start in his two seasons for the Gamecocks. Christian is a one to play one guy, and unfortunately was sidelined with an severe ankle injury and missed spring ball. If he is able to recover from that injury, he would be in the running to take that corner spot.
Transferring from the junior college ranks are a couple players that could step in and play right away. Cory Butler could be a likely candidate to get a nod as starter for the Utes. The Compton, CA and LA Harbor transfer also has the ability to play receiver, and could play on either side of the ball depending on Utah's needs - just like Hatfield. Another player transferring in that could play both ways is the track star Kyle Fulks from Katy, TX. He is a lighting quick player that has potential to be a return specialist, and can suit up as receiver or corner. It is believed that Utah will try him at receiver first, and then see where he fits best.
There are a lot of people that could step in, but a player that stood out in spring that is head and shoulders above the rest (height wise) is junior Brian Allen. The 6-3, 200 converted WR from La Marque, TX has set himself up take over for the big corners, like Eric Rowe, Keith McGill, and Sean Smith, that Utah has produced in recent years. He's the type of defender that has the stature to match up against the bigger receivers in the Pac 12. He also has the ability to use his frame to punish his opponent when needed. There is a good chance we may see No 14 starting at the corner back spot game one versus Michigan.
Utah does have a few other talented players who add depth, and are more than capable to play the position. Tavaris Williams and Boobie Hobbs both saw limited action at defensive back last season as true freshman, but spent time some quality time on the special teams. Austin Lee is back after a mission and a greyshirt year, and the Alta Hawk will have an opportunity to showcase his talent and maturity for the coaches. A number of the safeties may fine themselves buried on the depth chart may try their hand at corner, witnessing the success that past players have done the same.
There are a number of players that could slide into the spot for Dominique Hatfield this fall, if needed. The real hope is that the situation pans out in Hatfield's favor, but if not Utah will have no choice but to move on. If that is the case, there are a lot of great players that could step in, and more than likely, one may see that Brian Allen at the top of the depth chart at the end of fall camp.