Projecting Utah’s 2020 Offensive Depth Chart
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The Utah football program will have to fill key positions heading into the 2020 season with the departures of their three most important offensive positions.
The Utes lost a lot of talented players but have reloaded through their terrific recruiting class and players waiting for their chance to shine.
On offense, Utah lost some key starters from the 2019 season, including quarterback Tyler Huntley, running back Zack Moss, wide receiver Demari Simpkins and left tackle Darrin Paulo.
Here is what Utah’s offensive depth chart might look like heading into spring football.
1. Jake Bentley (He is listed on the graphic as No. 8 due to Bryan Thompson wearing No. 19 and Bentley had a No. 8 jersey on during his official visit)
2. Cameron Rising
3. Drew Lisk
The most attention that a single position battle will receive during spring football and fall camp will be the quarterback spot. The slight edge goes to the veteran Jake Bentley who committed to the Utes as a graduate transfer from South Carolina.
His experience will be the biggest advantage for Bentley, especially being a starting quarterback in the SEC.
That doesn’t mean that Cameron Rising will be the backup. The veteran doesn’t always win the battle. Remember back in 2017 when Huntley was a sophomore when he beat senior QB Troy Williams for the starting job.
This battle will be fun to follow as the Utes try to find their guy to replace Tyler Huntley.
1. Devin Brumfield
2. Jordan Wilmore
3. T.J. Green
With the departure of Devonta’e Henry-Cole, the Utes running back competition will still be entertaining but not as many players competing for the starting job.
Devin Brumfield emerged throughout the season, getting a good share of the backup reps for the Utes. He finished the 2019 season with 59 carries for 263 yards and two touchdowns.
Jordan Wilmore was the talk of fall camp and received most of the backup reps early in the season before Brumfield and Henry-Cole snagged those from the true freshman. He played in 12 games and received the third most carries among running backs for the Utes.
T.J. Green arrived on the scene later in the season for Utah, finishing the season with 23 carries for 68 yards and one touchdown. His best game was against Arizona.
Utah will have two others fighting to get into the rotation in Micah Bernard and incoming freshman Ty Jordan.
The competition will be interesting to see how it plays out but don’t be surprised if Utah uses a “by committee” approach rather than a running back that will get 25+ carries. Either way, the next guy to be the starter has massive shoes to fill after Zack Moss graduated.
No. 1’s – Bryan Thompson, Solomon Enis, Britain Covey
No. 2’s – Samson Nacua, Jaylen Dixon, Devaughn Vele
This position group will be fun to watch. Almost every receiver returns for Utah with the exception of Derrick Vickers and Demari Simpkins.
Bryan Thompson had a tremendous start to the season before falling off a little bit and having to battle with some injuries. He is a very dynamic and athletic receiver that will be a prime target for whoever Utah starts at quarterback.
I am among the many that expect Solomon Enis to have a breakout season for Utah. He is a tall receiver with great hands but is also a great blocking receiver on the perimeter. Enis had just 14 catches for 158 yards. Expect that number to go up significantly.
Britain Covey is expected to return in 2020 at full strength. That will be huge to get Utah’s biggest weapon back. He missed all but four games this season as he continued to recover from a horrific injury at the end of the 2018 season.
Samson Nacua has been a big time contributor for Utah in the last two seasons. He is a reliable receiver that will go up and get the 50/50 ball. Even though he doesn’t technically start, his numbers and contributions are starter-like.
Jaylen Dixon will be used the way that Derrick Vickers was last season as the jet-sweep type player. But, he will also be utilized as a deep threat for Utah as his quick speed can create separation from the opposing defenders.
A player that has been talked about but hasn’t gotten much of an opportunity is Devaughn Vele. He appeared in four games this past season, so he is able to use his redshirt. His 6’4, 207-pound size will be nice for Utah to have. He just needs the opportunity to show what he can do.
1. Brant Kuithe
2. Cole Fotheringham
3. Thomas Yassmin
Brant Kuithe was the most surprising player this past season for the Utes. In fall camp, the hype surrounding the tight end position was Cole Fotheringham but Kuithe showed just how good he can be. The second team All-Pac-12 selection can be used in multiple ways and is the ultimate weapon for Utah’s offense.
Cole Fotheringham is still a threat that teams need to keep in mind when scouting the Utes. His size and strength makes him a more traditional tight end and will be used as a blocker and running routes in a tight end-friendly offense.
Thomas Yassmin is a 6’5, 260-pound incoming redshirt sophomore. His size will certainly benefit him and the Utes offensive line when it comes to blocking. He will likely some time but playing behind the duo of Fotheringham and Kuithe, it might be difficult to get on the field.
Two other players could be in the mix to contribute at tight end, including incoming senior Ali’i Niumatalolo and incoming freshman Connor O’Toole.
No. 1’s – Bamidele Olaseni & Simi Moala
No. 2’s – Keaton Bills & London Bartholomew
Bamidele Olaseni could be a big factor (literally) to helping Utah’s offensive line progress. He played in four games in order to use his redshirt this season. His 6’7, 332-pound frame should comfort any quarterback. Olaseni will likely play left tackle due to his size.
Simi Moala was a pleasant surprise for the Utes this past season. He start most of the season at right tackle. In one game this season, Olaseni started at right tackle in place of Moala but the Utes struggled against the Huskies. Once Moala was inserted into the lineup, the Utes thrived and was able to get past Washington. He still has three seasons left in his college career.
Keaton Bills is a guy that is considered to have a high ceiling. The 6’4, 313-pound offensive lineman played in three games last season, so he is still able to consider the 2019 season as a redshirt year. This season will be critical for Bills because he can use his redshirt freshman season as a learning experience in Olaseni’s last season before Bills can take over as a starter in 2021.
No. 1’s – Braeden Daniels & Nick Ford
No. 2’s – Johnny Maea & Sataoa Laumea
As a redshirt freshman, Braeden Daniels started at left guard in all 14 games for the Utes. The 2019 season was a big one for him to gain experience of being on the offensive line in the Pac-12 conference.
At right guard, Nick Ford is a versatile offensive lineman who can play tackle, guard and center. He made appearances at three different positions on the offensive line but started in all 14 games. One game at right tackle against BYU and the other 13 at right guard.
Johnny Maea was in the rotation on the right side of the offensive line. He started at right guard against BYU but saw action in nine games last season as a freshman.
Last season, Sataoa Laumea played in one game on the offensive line for the Utes against UCLA. He can use a redshirt if the Utes decide to do so. The Rialto, California native will be a player that Utah could use throughout the season as a backup.
1. Orlando Umana
2. Rotation Of Players
Umana missed two games due to injury but started in 12 games at center. He is a versatile o-lineman who can also play the guard position. Umana will look to impress as a senior for the Utes and be the anchor of the offensive line.
When Umana missed two games last season, Utah moved starters around on the offensive line to fill the center position and used backups at the guard spots. That is what they will likely do again in 2020 in Umana misses any action.
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