The SportsBeat Six: Utah’s Greatest Sports Monsters Of 2018
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Halloween is one of the best times of the year. Why? Because it’s smack dab in the middle of prime sports season.
October is home to the World Series, both college football and the NFL are in full swing, Real Salt Lake is in the MLS playoffs, the Utes are in the chase for a Pac-12 championship, high school student athletes are in the hunt for a state championship, and fans all across Utah can’t wait to see what the Jazz do next.
So, KSL Sports presents THE SPORTSBEAT SIX – a list of our favorite local sports figures, remixed with our favorite pop-culture creatures.
1. Donovan “Spida” Mitchell, Utah Jazz
Forget Spider-man. Donovan Mitchell is Venom.
“Spida” is more symbiote than web-slinger. He’s a humble, off-the-court, do-gooder, yes. He’s also a terror after tip-off.
Which “Spida” do you sense fans will see this season? More rum-crawling from the sophmore, or CARNAGE from a stone-cold basketball killer?
2. Zach Wilson, BYU Football
It’s well-known history that the Wilson family bleeds red. Our guess is BYU sold its soul to summon Zach from the other side.
Wilson grew faster, smarter and stronger in Provo – and when the Cougars needed him most, he delivered with his legs and his right arm of doom.
The true-freshman quarterback has shocked and amazed in October, but is the hero the Cougars need come November?
3. Chase Hansen, Utah Football
Former Lone Peak High School standout Chase Hansen is a supernatural defensive force for Utah football.
He is versatile, elusive and strong. His reign of terror this season includes 68 tackles, 4 sacks and 1 interception.
The Utes defense is ranked seventh in the FBS, and the team is 16th in the AP poll.
How much will Hansen continue to tear apart offenses this year?
4. Real Salt Lake
Our fourth entry in the SportsBeat Six is the entire Real Salt Lake team.
RSL is still in the race for the 2018 MLS Cup. They lumbered and stumbled to get to the playoffs after the Portland Timbers handed Salt Lake a devastating loss in the last match of the season.
The only hope was a Houston Dynamo upset of the Galaxy. Luckily for RSL, LS choked 2-3 after leading 2-0 at the half, after gifting Houston and RSL the last playoff berths.
The claret and cobalt have the elements to be a monster in the post-season. Corey Baird is hot, with 8 goals on the season, while Albert Rusnek created over 50 chances on goal in open play.
Can RSL rampage through the Western Conference and reach the finals for the first time since 2013? Or will Petke and Company manifest themselves as soft as a bag of marshmallows.
5. Puka Nacua, Orem High School
It doesn’t have to be a full moon for Orem High wide receiver Puka Nacua to transform into beastmode. It doesn’t even have to be a Friday, when high school football is usually played.
Nacua’s 54 career touchdowns and 4,900 yards receiving with an average of 116 yards per game make him the Lone Wolf at the top of the Wasatch Mountains.
Athletes from Utah with his agility, speed and athleticism only come around once in a lifetime.
Will he lead his Tigers to another state title before bolting for Los Angeles and the USC Trojans?
6. Jordan Love, Utah State Aggies
The Utah State Aggies are currently the most electrifying team in the state.
Quarterback Jordan Love led the Aggies to their first AP Top 25 ranking in years, coming in at No. 18.
Love has completed 160 of 248 passes for 2,058 yards, 18 touchdowns – with only 4 interceptions. He’s had four 300+ yard games so far this year.
… and he’s only a sophomore.