The Utah football program released their pre camp depth chart last week, giving us a first look at how the roster might shape up for the start of the season. There are bound to be changes due to individual players exceeding expectations, position switches and of course injuries. Consider this a rough draft before the staff starts refining the depth chart with the beginning of camp on August 4th.
Starting with the offense you can see Utah is deep on the offensive line. Garrett Bolles who was a huge get for the staff in the offseason is listed as a backup to Sam Tevi at right tackle. That will be a position battle to watch in camp as Bolles has all the talent and ability to start at that position. At the other tackle spot Utah is set with senior J.J. Dielman. All the Utah starters on the offensive line are upperclassmen which bodes well for unit cohesion (an important factor on the o-line). You'll notice Nick Nowakowski is listed as the starter at center due to Hiva Lutui retiring because of injury problems.
Quarterback is still listed as a three man competition with no player having any clear advantage. This will be one of the biggest position battles of the summer, certainly the most high profile. Williams looked to be pulling ahead of the group in the spring before an injury shut him down. Cox and Huntley both performed very well in his absence to close out the spring. I think most would like to see Huntley redshirted this season given Utah's track record with freshman quarterbacks and injuries, however his performances in limited action so far put him solidly in the mix.
Another position that shows no separation among players is tight end, where Siale Fakailoatonga, Evan Moeai, and Harrison Handley are all even. Moeai was the starter to begin last season before suffering a season ending injury early in the first game. Fakailoatonga and Handley both stepped up due to injury last season and both performed well. Fakailoatonga is the best blocker of the group while Handley showed good receiving skills to end the season. Knowing how important the run game and having receivers who can block is to Kyle Whittingham, I think Fakailoatonga might have the edge.
No surprises at running back where Joe Williams is listed as the starter. At receiver, it looks like Cory Butler-Byrd is the early favorite to fill Britain Covey's role from last year at the slot position. Tim Patrick makes an appearance as a first teamer after missing all of last season, and Tyrone Smith who had a solid freshman season is listed as the starter at the X receiver position. This is a position group that should see a lot of competition in fall camp with no proven starters. This is one group where the depth chart could change significantly between now and the start of the season.
On defense, the line looks set with familiar faces like Kylie Fitts and Hunter Dimick at end and Filipo Mokofisis and Lowell Lotulelei in the middle. This figures to be the best position group on the team and should look the same as it does now heading into the season.
The linebacker group is all new with Sunia Tauteoli listed at the Mac position and both Cody Barton and incoming JC transfer David Lufatasaga at Rover. Tauteoli earned praise from Whittingham and the coaching staff during the spring, it will be interesting to watch how this group does during fall camp and see who emerges from the group. Expectations are high for Lufatasaga who is a four star recruit from Arizona Western College.
In the secondary, no real surprises. Hatfield, Porter and Thomas are listed as the starting corners and should remain that way through camp. At safety Marcus Williams and Chase Hansen are listed as the starters. The secondary should be a strong point for the Utes this season as all are veterans with lots of experience. There is depth as well, with Brian Allen and Boobie Hobbs, Andrey Godfrey and Jason Thompson all very capable backups.
On special teams Phillips is your kicker and new comer Mitch Wishnowsky will try and replace Tom Hackett's production. Butler-Byrd and Hobbs are the returners, though expect to see other player such as Kyle Fulks and Tavaris Williams Justin Thomas gets looks on kick returns as well.