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Utah Football Position Preview: Safeties

(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The University of Utah football team had a great tandem at strong and free safety last season with Corrion Ballard and Marquise Blair.

Both players are now gone with Blair getting drafted in the second round of the 2019 NFL Draft by the Seattle Seahawks. Ballard graduated and signed with the Carolina Panthers as an undrafted free agent.

Last season, Ballard racked up the third most tackles with 70 to go with his one sack, 3 tackles for loss, 7 pass breakups and one interception.

Blair was fourth in tackles with 59 and had 2 tackles for loss, 2 pass breakups and 2 interceptions.

Julian Blackmon

Now, head coach Kyle Whittingham and defensive coordinator and safeties coach Morgan Scalley saw the depth at cornerback and decided to move Julian Blackmon to free safety for his senior year. So far, that move has worked wonders for Utah. Blackmon decided to return for his final season with the Utes instead of entering his name in the NFL Draft. He had 48 tackles, 4 tackles for loss, 10 pass breakups and one interception. Blackmon was named second team All-Pac-12.

Blackmon will look to have a great season at a new position that he already seems comfortable with. Now that the free safety position is filled, who will be the starting strong safety?

Players To Watch

Senior Terrell Burgess is expected to start at strong safety, finally getting his chance to be a starter since Utah has been deep at safety for so many years. He started one game combined as a freshman and sophomore and collected 19 tackles. Last season he started in two games and picked up 16 tackles.

Vonte Davis is slated to backup Burgess after playing all 14 games last season on special teams and sometimes on defense. He is a junior college transfer from Blinn College.

Behind Blackmon is R.J. Hubert, who played the final six games last season on special teams. He is entering his sophomore season out of Logandale, Nevada.