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Six Things To Watch For During Utah Football Training Camp

Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham during fall camp. (Photo courtesy of Utah Athletics)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Utah football will be going through two completely different training camps from 2019 to 2020.

That’s not even counting the COVID-19 pandemic.

On Friday, October 9, Utah will begin their four-week training camp leading up to their 2020 season opener against Arizona at Rice-Eccles Stadium.

The Crimson Corner podcast discussed the many storylines heading into training camp.

Here are six things to watch for throughout fall camp.

1. Quarterback Battle

Kyle Whittingham mentioned Jake Bentley, Cameron Rising and Drew Lisk will compete for the job to start camp. They will all get the same amount of reps before the staff narrows the competition to two QB’s.

Former Utah quarterback Scott Mitchell discussed the quarterback battle entering training camp.

Whittingham hopes to have his starter named after two weeks of camp so that the starter will get all the rep’s with the one’s for the two remaining weeks of camp before Arizona rolls into town.

My Prediction: Jake Bentley will be named the starter. Don’t count out Cameron Rising though.

2. Getting The Secondary Ironed Out

After losing all five secondary starters from last season, Utah will reload with a new era of cornerbacks and safeties. Clark Phillips III is a player that will have the spotlight on him during camp to see where the coaches will play him. He will be a day one starter but will it be at nickel or cornerback? Kyle Whittingham said that Phillips is a “special player.”

The safety position is loaded with young talent led by R.J. Hubert who had a great season backing up Julian Blackmon before both players went down with season-ending injuries in the Pac-12 Championship game. Vonte Davis is the frontrunner to start alongside Hubert in 2020.

Guys that will compete for reps behind them include Nate Ritchie, Ben Renfro, Kamo’i Latu and Stone Azarcon.

On the outside corners, if Phillips starts at nickel – unless someone else emerges – the likely candidates to hold down the outside is Bronson Boyd and JaTravis Broughton. Aaron Lowe will move around between safety and corner as a hybrid. Malone Mataele, LaCarea Pleasant-Johnson, Drew Rawls and Caine Savage will be competing for reps.

My Prediction: Clark Phillips III will start at nickel with Bronson Boyd and JaTravis Broughton starting at the two corner spots. Vonte Davis and R.J. Hubert will occupy the safety positions.

3. Linebackers Emerging Next To Devin Lloyd

It’s been reported that Sione Lund has entered the transfer portal. That leaves the second linebacker spot next to Devin Lloyd up for grabs. Nephi Sewell and Andrew Mata’afa are the frontrunners. Hayden Furey, Jeremy Mercier and Sione Fotu will be in the mix as well.

My Prediction: Nephi Sewell will start at linebacker next to Devin Lloyd. Andrew Mata’afa will get playing time.

4. How Deep Is The Offensive Line?

Last season, the offensive line didn’t face many challenges as Utah was able to do what they wanted offensively. Darrin Paulo was the only starter that graduated from the offensive line from last season.

Nick Ford, Orlando Umana, Braeden Daniels and Simi Moala all return from the 2019 squad.

My Prediction: Nick Ford will start at left tackle, Keaton Bills at left guard, Orlando Umana at center, Braeden Daniels at right guard and Simi Moala at right tackle. Utah will be very deep on the o-line. Johnny Maea and Bamidele Olaseni will get reps as backups.

5. Finding A Lead Running Back

The Utes will have to replace their all-time leading rusher Zack Moss, who is now in the NFL with the Buffalo Bills. Moss left big shoes to fill.

The five players in the mix to be the lead running back is Devin Brumfield, Jordan Wilmore, T.J. Green, Micah Bernard and Ty Jordan.

My Prediction: Utah will be more of a running back by committee rather than giving one guy 30 carries like Devontae Booker or Zack Moss. I think Jordan Wilmore will be the lead running back with Devin Brumfield getting a good chunk of carries. T.J. Green will be the third running back.

6. Do The Young DE’s Crack The Rotation?

Utah’s career sack leader Bradlee Anae is in the NFL with the Dallas Cowboys. Seeing the emergence of Mika Tafua and Maxs Tupai last season left the Utes in a great spot on the edges of the defensive line.

The Utes also signed a pair of four-star in-state standout recruits in Van Fillinger from Corner Canyon and Xavier Carlton from Juan Diego. Do they crack the rotation and get reps behind Tupai and Tafua?

My Prediction: Maxs Tupai and Mika Tafua will start at defensive end. Van Fillinger and Xavier Carlton will both be in the rotation.

Catch all the latest from the Utes in training camp, here.

Trevor Allen is a Utah Utes Insider for and host of the Crimson Corner podcast. Follow him on Twitter: @TrevorASportsYou can download and listen to the podcast, here.

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