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Looking At Utah Football’s 2023 Roster With New CFP Proposal

Utah Utes mascot Swoop and the team run onto the field before the start of an college football game against the San Jose State Spartans on September 16, 2017 at Rice Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City, Utah. (Photo by George Frey/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – With the new College Football Playoff (CFP) proposal likely to go through to expand will benefit the Utah football team in the future.

It’s unknown as of right now when the CFP will expand but Utah football will continue to get ready to make a run at the current system. Their recruiting mixed in with player development has set them up to be Pac-12 title contenders for years to come. When the new expansion comes into play, that would mean a berth in the playoff under the new proposal.

It is believed that if the proposal is accepted by the CFP that the new 12-team expanded playoff will begin after the 2023 regular season.

Utah has the talent to make a run at the inaugural 12-team playoff just based off of the roster that is already there.

Here is a look at Utah’s 2023 roster as it stands now. This obviously does not have any recruits listed unless they have verbally committed.

Quarterback

  • Cameron Rising
  • Ja’Quinden Jackson
  • Peter Costelli
  • Bryson Barnes

This could be a very competitive group over the next two to three years. Ja’Quinden Jackson and Peter Costelli will be battling for the starting job for years to come. The Utes are in good hands at quarterback.

Running Back

  • Micah Bernard
  • Chris Curry
  • Ricky Parks
  • Charlie Vincent
  • Elvis Vakapuna
  • Braedon Wissler
  • Faysal Aden
  • George Benyeogor

Micah Bernard has quickly made a splash in the running back room that goes back to the end of the 2020 season. Now it’s his job to lose in 2021 but with the reps he has received lately and the spring camp in he a couple of months ago, Bernard will be a name to watch for in the coming years. Chris Curry and Ricky Parks have the potential to be big time playmakers in the backfield.

Wide Receiver

  • Munir McClain
  • Dominique Thompson
  • Devaughn Vele
  • Kyrese Rowan
  • Maxwell Cotton
  • Caine Savage (could be moved back to CB)
  • Money Parks
  • Makai Cope
  • Zach Vaughn
  • Ben Renfro (could be moved back to S)
  • Dawson Tanner
  • Connor O’Toole

I know many are asking why Britain Covey isn’t on this list but I think he has used every possible redshirt that he can and his time at Utah will eventually end even with a doctorate in his hand. Devaughn Vele has shown in the spring of 2021 that he could be dynamic playmaker and has a bright future in the program. Some other playmakers that could rise within Utah’s development system including Money Parks, Makai Cope, Connor O’Toole and future Utes coming in with Chad Bumphis making a splash on the recruiting trail.

Tight End

  • Thomas Yassmin
  • Soa Rosales
  • Hayden Erickson
  • Branden Anderson
  • Isaac Vaha

Brant Kuithe, Cole Fotheringham and Dalton Kincaid won’t be around in 2023 but Utah has always been able to recruit that position. A name to watch for is Pleasant Grove HS star Isaac Vaha. He has tremendous potential.

Offensive Lineman

  • Johnny Maea
  • Paul Maile
  • Simi Moala
  • Braeden Daniels
  • Keaton Bills
  • Marist Talavou
  • Luke Felix-Fualalo
  • Sataoa Laumea
  • Falcon Kaumatule
  • Shintaro Mann
  • Jaren Kump
  • Hunter Lotulelei
  • Jaxon Garcia
  • Alex Harrison
  • Koli Faaiu
  • Zereoue Williams

This group listed above is filled with talent. From Simi Moala, Braeden Daniels, Sataoa Laumea and Keaton Bills to Jaren Kump, Hunter Lotulelei, Alex Harrison, Koli Faaiu and Zereoue Williams, Utah is set on the offensive line. Also, Jim Harding will always find really talented players that will be willing to come in and work.

Defensive Lineman

  • Elijah Shelton, DE
  • Blake Kuithe, DE
  • Miki Suguturaga, DE
  • Van Fillinger, DE
  • Jonny Fanaika, DE
  • Tyler Wegis, DE
  • Kennan Aiono, DE
  • Xavier Carlton, DE
  • Shuhei Mitsumoto, DE
  • Viliami Po’uha, DE
  • Aisea Moa, DE
  • Semisi Lauaki, DL
  • Tevita Fotu, DL
  • Michael Mokofisi, DL
  • Eli Morrow, DT
  • Fua Pututau, DT
  • Junior Tafuna, DT
  • Taka Lautaha, DT
  • Simote Pepa, DT
  • Aliki Vimahi, DT
  • Tanoa Togiai, DT
  • Tennessee Pututau, DT

We are talking about Utah football and Kyle Whittingham, which means the defensive line will always be stocked full of NFL talent. Van Fillinger and Xavier Carlton could give massive problems to opposing offenses while getting assistance from pass rushers such as Blake Kuithe, Tyler Wegis, Aisea Moa and many others.

Defensive tackle is the same as always with big and strong run blockers. Tennessee Pututau already has meaningful reps as a freshman in 2020 and Kyle Whittingham has been very high on Tanoa Togiai, Aliki Vimahi and Simote Pepa.

Linebacker

  • Ethan Calvert
  • Josh Calvert
  • Sione Fotu (back from two-year church mission)
  • Hayden Furey
  • Andrew Mata’afa
  • Karene Reid
  • Dylan Brooks
  • Trey Reynolds
  • Mason Tufaga
  • Sione Tuha
  • Taniela Pututau
  • Jonah Elliss

This is one of the top three positions that I am most excited to watch unfold. Ethan Calvert, Sione Fotu, Trey Reynolds and Mason Tufaga are guys that will be the headliners at the position but keep your eyes on Jonah Elliss, Taniela Pututau and Andrew Mata’afa. This linebacker group is scary good.

Cornerback

  • Clark Phillips III
  • JaTravis Broughton
  • Malone Mataele
  • Aaron Lowe
  • Drew Rawls
  • LaCarea Pleasant-Johnson
  • Faybian Marks
  • Kenzel Lawler
  • Elisha Lloyd

Another position group that I am excited to watch. Clark Phillips III could go to the NFL if he wanted to after the 2022 season and will have his degree in hand. He has told the media in the past that he is doing what Jaylon Johnson did when he was at the university and that was getting his degree in three years. Phillips will be in the NFL no matter what, it’s just a matter of when he wants to make the move. Maybe the CFP expansion might convince him to come back for one more year.

JaTravis Broughton and Malone Mataele are guys who could work their way up draft boards and get a shot at the league. The five games in 2020 was crucial to their development and it didn’t have an impact on their eligibility.

Safety

  • Cole Bishop
  • Kamo’i Latu
  • Zemaiah Vaughn (could stay at CB)
  • Bleu Stewart
  • Nick Billoups
  • Darrien Stewart
  • Nate Ritchie (back from two-year church mission)

Kamo’i Latu, Cole Bishop and Darrien Stewart will have some experience under their belt when Nate Ritchie returns from his two-year church mission. That will make for a very competitive battle in training camp for years to come.

Specialists

  • Jadon Redding, K
  • Jared March, P

Players That Will Be Gone By 2023 (Or Potentially Leave)

Here are the players that will be graduated by the time 2023 rolls around (if no medical redshirts are used between now and 2023).

Offense

  • Charlie Brewer, QB
  • T.J. Pledger, RB
  • Aaron Tapusoa, RB
  • Tavion Thomas, RB
  • Joe Ludwig, FB
  • Theo Howard, WR
  • Tyrone Young-Smith, WR
  • Britain Covey, WR
  • Jaylen Dixon, WR
  • Solomon Enis, WR
  • Dylan Slavens, WR
  • Ali’i Niumatalolo, TE
  • Cole Fotheringham, TE
  • Dalton Kincaid, TE
  • Brant Kuithe, TE
  • Bamidele Olaseni, OL
  • Orlando Umana, OL
  • Nick Ford, OL

Defense

  • Maxs Tupai, DE
  • Mika Tafua, DE
  • Viane Moala, DT
  • Hauati Pututau, DT
  • Devin Kaufusi, DT
  • Devin Lloyd, LB
  • Jeremy Mercier, LB
  • Nephi Sewell, LB
  • Brandon McKinney, S
  • Vonte Davis, S
  • Stone Azarcon, S
  • R.J. Hubert, S

Special Teams

  • Jordan Noyes, K
  • Noah Rodriguez-Trammel, LS
  • Keegan Markgraf, LS

Something to keep an eye on is players that could leave after the 2022 season and enter the NFL Draft. Players that were true freshmen or redshirt freshman also have the option to go to the NFL even though the COVID-19 pandemic froze their eligibility. This new CFP expansion could convince those players that are on the fence to return for the 2023 season and make a run for the playoff.

Quarterback

  • Cameron Rising

Running Back

  • Chris Curry
  • Micah Bernard

Offensive Line

  • Simi Moala
  • Braeden Daniels
  • Keaton Bills
  • Sataoa Laumea
  • Jaren Kump

Defensive Line

  • Van Fillinger
  • Xavier Carlton
  • Tennessee Pututau

Cornerback

  • JaTravis Broughton
  • Clark Phillips III
  • Malone Mataele
  • Faybian Marks

Safety

  • Kamo’i Latu
  • Ben Renfro (could be at WR too)

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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