While spring football has not yet wrapped for the Utah Utes, several players who did not see the field for Utah last year are standing out. We thought with the Red-White spring game just around the corner we would highlight these players, so fans can make sure to watch for them during the game. This is far from an exhaustive list, and many new players could see the field for Utah in the 2018 season despite the amount of starters Utah returns.
QB Jack Tuttle - freshman
Tuttle was the highest-rated recruit in Utah’s 2018 recruiting class, picking Utah over a host of other schools including Alabama and USC. The four-star standout from San Marcos, Calif. enrolled early at Utah to be able to participate in spring camp. Getting his first taste of college football, Tuttle has impressed. He has made some big-time throws. He has not been perfect and has had some freshman mistakes. Overall, Tuttle is living up to the lofty expectations he had coming in as a former Elite 11 quarterback that could have gone anywhere in the country. It is great to see Tuttle perform well so early in his Utah career against a talented, experienced secondary. Having said all this, I hope Tuttle is able to redshirt this fall and gets more time to learn and grow in the offense before he faces the pressure associated with being a starting quarterback. Returning starter Tyler Huntley has done really well this spring, looking even more comfortable in second-year offensive coordinator Troy Taylor’s offense.
OL Nick Ford - redshirt freshman
Utah beat out Washington for Ford on National Signing Day in 2017. Hailing from San Pedro, Calif., Ford has the size (315) and length (6’5”) to be an elite offensive tackle in the Pac-12. Ford redshirted last season and will play on offense after spending some time on defense. While the offensive line returns four starters, Ford has played well enough to push for playing time this season. At minimum, Ford will add depth. He could also play at tackle and allow Utah to move a player like Darrin Paulo, who is out this spring, inside to guard to replace Salesi Uhatafe, who graduated. Having spent a year learning and in the weight room, Ford could be an important piece for Utah this year and for years to come.
DL Mika Tafua - freshman
Tafua originally chose BYU out of high school back in 2015. The Honolulu, Hawaii native served a two-year LDS Church Mission and decided to switch blue for red upon returning home. Tafua is an early candidate to replace defensive end Kylie Fitts, who graduated and is preparing for the NFL Draft. Utah lost three starters from the defensive line to graduation, so there will be plenty of reps for new players. Tafua was nearly a four-star recruit coming out of high school and had interest from many programs including USC. He is likely to contribute as a true freshman this fall, and this experience he has gained in spring is invaluable.