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Utah True Freshman Safety Nate Ritchie Being Compared To Chase Hansen

(Photo courtesy of Utah Athletics)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – One of the standouts for Utah football during fall camp has been true freshman Nate Ritchie.

The former Lone Peak star has been constantly mentioned throughout camp by head coach Kyle Whittingham as a guy who will get game reps when the Utes open the season on Saturday, November 7 at Rice-Eccles Stadium against Arizona.

Whittingham has compared Ritchie twice to former Utah great Chase Hansen. Coincidentally, both Ritchie and Hansen played at Lone Peak High School.

“Skillset first and foremost he’s got size, he’s got speed, he’s a physical player, he’s intelligent and so just his ability across the board is really what sets him apart,” Whittingham said. “He’s a guy that has a great football IQ as well and he’s instinctive and so all the things you look for in a safety Nate possesses. I’ve compared him to Chase Hansen, I still will make that comparison as far as the type of player that he is and and the impact that he can have. Know he’s just a true freshman. I don’t want to put too much pressure on him right now but he’s he’s a guy you’re going to see on the field and see quite a bit.”

Nate Ritchie

Now that Terrell Burgess and Julian Blackmon are in the NFL, Utah is having to reload at their two safety positions. Ritchie is in the mix for a starting spot after nearly two weeks of camp.

“He’s at the point where he’s going to be in the mix for one of the two best safeties,” Whittingham stated. Again, we put two best guys out there doesn’t matter whether they are labeled the strong safety or free safety. The two best guys will be out there, one will play strong, one will play free. Some are interchangeable and they can interchange responsibilities during the course of the game. But he’s in the mix right now and it’s a fierce battle and going to continue for who’s going to be the starters but all three of those guys are doing a good job. R.J. Hubert, Vontae Davis party and Nate Ritchie right now. Kamo’i Latu is also a guy that is showing very well.”

Ritchie signed with Utah in the 2020 class as a three-star prospect. During his time at Lone Peak, Ritchie was named first team all-state twice and was the Region 4 Defensive MVP as a senior.

The Cedar Hills, Utah native was the No. 4 ranked recruit in the state of Utah in the 2020 class.

Chase Hansen

Hansen was an All-American at Utah and is now in the NFL with the New Orleans Saints. He first joined Utah as a quarterback in 2012 and utilized his redshirt before serving a two-year church mission. When Hansen returned from his mission in 2015, he played two games at quarterback before being moved to the secondary at strong safety.

After suffering a season-ending injury, Hansen returned in 2016 and started all 13 games for the Utes, 12 at safety and one at linebacker. Another injury-riddled season in 2017 kept Hansen off the field for four games.

In 2018, Hansen was an All-American as a linebacker, starting all 13 games and was in contention to win the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year. He signed with the Saints as an undrafted free agent. Hansen dealt with injuries as a rookie but in his second year made the 53-man roster.

During his time at Utah, Hansen showed his versatility by being able to play multiple positions. His physicality and toughness on the field made him an elite defender. Always at the right place at the right time to make big plays.

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

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