An X-factor is by definition "a circumstance, quality, or person that has strong but unpredictable influence." For the 2015 Utah Utes that person is junior college transfer Cory Butler-Byrd. The junior out of Los Angeles Harbor Community College has immense talent and should have a strong influence on how much success the Utes have this upcoming season. He has yet to play college football at the "Power 5" level however so until he takes the field on September 3rd against Michigan, his impact is hard to exactly predict.
This is not the first time Utah has found a talented player out of Los Angeles Harbor Community College. Back in 2011, Utah found a speedy running back by the name of John White IV playing for the same school. He turned out to be quite the x-factor during his two seasons up on the hill and was critical to the team's success during his time in Salt Lake City. Coach Kyle Whittingham and the rest of the coaching staff can only hope Butler-Byrd will have a similar impact for this year's team.
The junior from Compton California was a highly rated 4-star recruit who Utah was fortunate to land. The coaching staff had to fend off a strong push by Kansas, but were able to show Butler-Byrd enough that he decided Utah was the right place for him to continue his football career.
Butler-Byrd brings a lot of talent with him when he steps onto the field. Hudl has his 40 yard dash time recorded at 4.35 which is big time speed for a player capable of playing on both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball. With the loss of players like Kaelin Clay and Dominique Hatfield, Butler's arrival could mitigate the effects of some of the speed that was lost from last season's team.
In Fall camp, Butler-Byrd has been tried on both sides of the ball. He has been listed as a starter on the preseason depth charts at both slot receiver and cornerback. The thought of having someone with 4.35 speed lining up at receiver is exciting considering the loss of Dres Anderson and Clay, though coaches have admitted there is a logjam at the slot receiver position with the like of Bubba Poole, Britan Covey and Kyle Fulks all seeing time there and with good speed themselves.
Where Butler-Byrd appears most needed for the Utes is on the defensive side of the ball at the cornerback position, where there is not as much depth currently. This works out well for all parties involved as Butler played well at the cornerback position a season ago in junior college, breaking up 6 pass attempts, snagging 5 interceptions and a fumble recovery on top of 64 tackles. Coaches have mentioned he feels most comfortable playing at cornerback and is currently listed as a starter opposite Reggie Porter.
Butler-Byrd has a chance to have a huge impact on the 2015 season. As a potential two way player, Butler-Byrd will likely have a rare opportunity to contribute on both offense and defense. His speed will allow him to keep up with speedy Pac-12 receivers on defense while on offense he could provide a potential deep threat, making up for the loss of Dres Anderson.
The 2015 Utah Utes have the potential to to be the most successful team yet since joining the Pac-12. Last year there were times when Utah needed a player with Butler-Byrd's skills to get behind the secondary, or break up a pass for a 4th down stop. The abilities he brings to the team could be just the extra boost that is needed for the Utes to take the next step in Pac-12 play.