Another long offseason of no football is nearing it's end, as Utah will open their Fall camp on Thursday, August 4th. This will be the 12th fall camp run by head coach Kyle Whittingham. Camp will last from August 4th through August 20th with two-a-days occuring five different times during camp on August 10th, 12th, 15th, 17th and 19th. There will be 20 total practices including two scrimmages in the 17 day period. Practices and scrimmages are closed to the public, although media members will get to view 20 minutes of each scrimmage. Players will spend the first two days of camp in just helmets, adding shoulder pads for practices three and four, before they begin practicing in full gear on the fifth practice next week. 105 players will take part in camp, with 84 scholarship players and 21 walk-ons invited.
The Utes return 14 starters from last year's team which went 10-3, six on offense and seven on defense. A large focus of this camp will be finding out which players will step into the vacated roles left behind by some of last year's top players. The staff needs to replace starters at three positions that had All Pac-12 selections last season, running back (Devontae Booker), Linebacker (Gionni Paul) and Punter (Tom Hackett). In addition, both the quarterback and receiver positions will have new faces with the departures of veteran players Travis Wilson and Kenneth Scott.
There is plenty of speed on this team to help step into some of those spots. At running back both Joe Williams (4.35) and Troy McCormick (4.46) have some of the fastest 40 yard dash time on the team. Receiver also has speed with Kyle Fulks (4.44) and Kenric Young (4.46). On defense the linebacking group will look at up and coming players Sunia Tauteoli and Cody Barton to build on promising spring performances. Highly touted JC transfer David Lufatasaga, who has decided to go by birth name Kavika Lufatasaga moving forward, will get his first action with the team during camp.
The big story of camp will be the quarterback battle however. Williams, Cox and Huntley all had their moments in the spring, but fall camp will be where the staff will begin to really evaluate what they have at the position and the players will be able to showcase their skills. As of now it is an even battle, with all three being listed as co-starters.Hopefully some separation at the position will occur sooner than later, so the eventual starter can get as many reps as possible before the season. Of the three candidates, only Brandon Cox has familiarity with the offense and coaching staff.
Speaking of the coaching staff, this will be the first fall camp since the staff underwent some changes after last season. Morgan Scalley was promoted to defensive coordinator and will lead the defense heading into this season. Guy Holliday was hired away from BYU to be the new receivers coach at a position that desperately needs improvement. Fred Whittingham will take over the tight end group with Lewis Powell taking over the defensive line (his old position as a player). Justin Ena and Sharrief Shah will team up as co-coordinators for special teams after Scalley's promotion.
The wait is nearly over as excitement for this upcoming season will continue to build through the month of August. It will be interesting to see who emerges this fall at the quarterback position and to see if how the new set of linebackers look. Despite some new faces at key positions, expectations are high for this team coming off their best season in the Pac-12. They return one of the best defensive lines in the country and an experienced secondary to go with some exciting potential on offense. Fans looking to get in on the action can buy single game tickets beginning on August 15th. We will continue to have more coverage on fall camp as it progresses over the next few weeks.