How Is Utah Football Handling The Transfer Portal?

Mar 2, 2021, 2:02 PM
Kyle Whittingham Ty Jordan...
Utah Utes head coach Kyle Whittingham walks around his players as they begin their warmups as Utah and Oregon State prepare to play a college football game at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City on Saturday, Dec. 5, 2020. (Scott G Winterton, Deseret News)
(Scott G Winterton, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The transfer portal in college football is not the wild west that some have predicted but it can be a bit wild with teams gaining and losing players, and the University of Utah is no exception.

This offseason for Utah has been probably the most volatile for both losing and gaining players. The Utes lost a few key players like quarterback Jake Bentley who moved onto South Alabama and wide receiver Bryan Thompson moved within the league to Arizona State to name a few.

Utah also gained a few from other Power 5 leagues with a pair of running backs from Oklahoma in TJ Pledger and LSU’s Chris Curry, Baylor grad transfer quarterback Charlie Brewer, and most recently linebacker Ale Kaho who left Alabama for Salt Lake City.

This movement of players can be good or bad for a team but it can be a way to instantly boost a team, especially with most players more often than not being ruled immediately eligible to play.

The portal is still fairly new and can be tough to navigate for players and coaches but the Utes at the very least have landed some talent from fellow Power 5 leagues despite also losing a few key players from 2020.

Utah Adds Stars; Loses Wide Receivers

The Utes have been very active in the transfer portal accumulating talented players, which include finding more running back and quarterback depth, and landing a few former four-star players is a potential boon for Kyle Whittingham’s team.

Voice of Utah football Bill Riley’s initial take is that the Utes came out on the better end with who they landed in relation to who left the program. However, he also is cautious of avoiding the hype of the star rating from these players from their high school days.

“I think it’s overall still a net positive, adding two four-star running backs and two four-star quarterbacks. That’s a pretty net positive for you there,” Riley said. “Now, those guys got to go out and perform. When you sign free agents, you grade them when you sign them, then grade them after they play.”

The wide receiving group is a real concern with the losses of Thompson and Samson Nacua via the portal. There are just three receivers with any real experience coming back in 2021.

That group is the most concerning, especially if there are any prolonged injuries to this thin wide receiving group.

What Will Kaho Bring?

Anytime a former blue-chip player leaves Alabama it raises an eyebrow and in a good way just because they came from Tuscaloosa. However, Kaho does not have a whole lot of playing experience as he is entering his third FBS program after initially signing with Washington and then going to Alabama and he has only 31 total tackles to his name. That is a concern, especially if some are thinking he can step in right away and be a star on this Ute defense.

“I know he was a four-star guy out of high school but that was three or four years ago and sometimes a fresh start is needed,” Riley said.”Utah has shown that they can find some guys and plug them in and maybe this is what he needs. I’m going to take a wait-and-see approach because Utah is pretty loaded at linebacker right now.

Now that Kaho is on Utah’s roster it is up to the staff to get the most out of him. The Utes are loaded at linebacker so there can the option of slowly bringing him up to speed and not force him to be a starter immediately. Perhaps that is the best way to get the most out of Kaho and not just throw him in the fire, and who knows, maybe the third school is the charm.

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