In spring camp, we learned a lot about the Utah football team. The ESPN Pac-12 Blog does position breakdowns into three categories: great shape, good shape, and we'll see. They are doing post-spring position breakdowns for every team. We decided here at Block U to also do position breakdowns focusing specifically on Utah. We will start on offense, the side of the ball that entered into spring camp with the most questions.
Quarterback - We'll See
Many expected former Washington (and Santa Monica College transfer) quarterback Troy Williams to win the starting quarterback job. While he still can in fall camp, his injury that caused him to miss the latter half of spring has opened the door for junior Brandon Cox and true freshman Tyler Huntley to challenge for the starting job. Cox looked excellent in both scrimmages in spring. Utah has struggled to pass the ball since joining the Pac-12, so there are naturally question marks at the position for the Utes. With so much uncertainty at the quarterback position, we will have to wait and see who starts and how well they are able to perform.
Running back - Good Shape
While the Utes lost Devontae Booker to the NFL, they still have plenty of talent at the position with Joe Williams and Troy McCormick. Williams filled in well for Booker to close out last season. While he does not have the same physical running style as Booker, he has more speed. McCormick did not show any lingering effects from the knee injury that caused him to miss all of the 2015 season. McCormick has home run speed, and he is much harder to bring down than his size would indicate because he is such a balanced runner. The Utah backs did not put up big numbers in spring, but that can partially be attributed to a dominant defensive line and an offensive line that was dealing with some injuries. The Utah coaching staff has said they want a third running back to step up. Who that is will not become clear until fall camp at the earliest.
Wide receiver - We'll See
This is one position where I was quite torn on the grade to give. Heading into spring the group was firmly in the we'll see category with Britain Covey, Delshawn McClellon, Bubba Poole, and Kenneth Scott all gone from a group that underachieved in 2015. In spring, players like Caleb Repp, Cory Butler-Byrd (prior to his injury that ended his spring), and Kyle Fulks all showed flashes of potential. Repp is drawing comparisons to a faster version of Kenneth Scott. Repp is a bigger receiver with great hands and showed he could make plays down the field. Butler-Byrd and Fulks both has elite speed to stretch a defense vertically. Raelon Singleton could also factor into the position battle if he can get and stay healthy. Utah will also get Tim Patrick, a 2014 starter who missed all of 2015 with an injury, back in fall. New wide receiver coach Guy Holliday has shown he can develop receivers, so this is a group that I could see making a marked improvement this season, but I still want to see a little more before I bump the group up into good shape.
Tight end - Good Shape
Despite missing possibly the top two players on the depth chart (Siale Fakailoatonga and Evan Moeai), Utah showed off their depth and talent at tight end. Harrison Handley built on a strong close to the 2015 season. He looks like he added some good weight and managed to keep his speed. Wallace Gonzalez showed flashes in spring as well, snagging three touchdown catches in one scrimmage. Utah looked to utilize the tight end more in spring both as a shorter check down receiver and on seam routes. With Fakailoatonga (who is an excellent blocker) and Moeai (who has shown a ton of potential but has missed most of the 2014 and 2015 seasons with injuries) back in fall camp, Utah could be quite deep at tight end in 2016.
Offense line - Good Shape
Offensive line was thought by many to be the strongest offensive position group heading into spring, with five players with starting experience returning. They however did not live up to the hype, but it is not time to push the panic button just yet. The offensive line was missing several key players, most notably All-Pac-12 right tackle J.J. Dielman, who will be back by fall camp. They also had to face an excellent defensive line all spring. More help will arrive in fall camp from five-star JUCO transfer tackle Garett Bolles, the likely starter at left tackle in 2016. While the offensive line did not perform quite as well as expected (which caused me to drop them from great shape to good shape), there is not cause for concern with the offensive line getting several important pieces in fall camp.