Utah Football Returns Young Safeties Full Of Talent

Jul 11, 2021, 4:21 PM | Updated: Jul 12, 2021, 9:11 am

Vonte Davis and Clark Phillips - Utah Utes vs. Oregon State Beavers...

Nephi Sewell #29, Vonte Davis #19 and Clark Phillips III #8 of the Utah Utes chase down Calvin Tyler Jr #2 of the Oregon State Beavers during their game December 5, 2020 at Rice Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City, Utah. (Photo by Chris Gardner/Getty Images)

(Photo by Chris Gardner/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The Utah football team is only missing one starter on defense from 2020 and that is at the safety position but they are young and very talented.

Basically, Utah features one senior at the safety position with the rest being underclassmen or juniors. The 2020 season gave most of their young players very valuable experience with their eligibility frozen and playing five games of Pac-12 football.

Here is the Crimson Corner’s first installment of Utah football position previews heading into the 2021 season.

Returning Talent

Vonte Davis is the lone senior in the safety room for the Utes. He had a breakout season in 2020 after starting all five games at free safety. Davis recorded 16 tackles, one tackle for a loss, a sack, two interceptions and a forced fumble.

Kamo’i Latu is a player that I am very excited to watch as a Ute. He played in all five games in 2020 on special teams but has the potential to start for many years in a Utah uniform. His biggest trait is how hard he can hit. Mix that with his ability to track the ball and make plays will set him up for success for years to come.

Stone Azarcon is another veteran in the room that is entering his second junior season. He played all five games on special teams in 2020 and in nine games in 2019. Another experienced player who could be a player to step up if something happens to the starters.

Ben Renfro is back at safety after spending spring camp at wide receiver. The young prospect has a bright future at safety especially when the coaches used him at wide receiver for spring ball because of his experience at that position.


Cole Bishop is a three-star signee from Peachtree City, Georgia that is entering his first season with the Utes. He is off to a great start on getting acclimated to the program after participating in spring ball. Bishop has great hands and really good athletic ability to make plays at one of the safety positions.

Bleu Stewart joined the Utes from Las Vegas, Nevada as a three-star recruit that was ranked No. 7 in the state. He will be a great addition to “Safety Pride” as a player that is going to put in the work. Stewart is a quick safety after running track in high school.

Brandom McKinney is not new to the college game but is new to the Utes after transferring from Washington. He could be very helpful with the young players as a mentor. McKinney also made plays at the Pac-12 level and knows what skill set is needed in the league.

One 2020 Starter Not Back For 2021

Nate Ritchie was a true freshman in 2020 that made a splash in his first season as a Ute. He finished third on the team with 28 tackles, along with 3.5 tackles for loss, one sack, a pass breakup and one fumble recovery. Ritchie is currently serving a two-year mission and will be back in 2023.

Starter Predictions

Vonte Davis is a lock to start at free safety. He could move over to strong safety as well. I believe Kamo’i Latu will take the other spot at safety. If Latu doesn’t start, McKinney would be my next pick to be the starter.

Utah will kickoff the 2020 season on Thursday, September 2 at Rice-Eccles Stadium against Weber State.

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.

  • Utah Utes Scoreboard

  • Utah Utes Team Leaders

  • Utah Utes Standings

Crimson Corner

George Kliavkoff - Pac-12 Media Day...

Michelle Bodkin

Utes Bulletin: Things Happening In Utah Athletics (Week Of 7/17/23)

It's Pac-12 Media Day week which means we are closer to the 2023 Utah football season and the Utes Bulletin gets football heavy once again.

7 months ago


Michelle Bodkin

Former Utah Football Star, DC Steve F. Hallsey Discusses Athletes For Life Experience

Former Utah football star and DC Steve F. Hallsey discusses his experience with Athletes For Life's at the Uintah-Ouray Ute Reservation.

7 months ago


Michelle Bodkin

Utes Bulletin: Things Happening In Utah Athletics (Week Of 6/26/23)

Can you believe it's the final week of June? Soon the Utes Bulletin will be prepping you all for Pac-12 Media Day and Fall Camp.

8 months ago


Michelle Bodkin

Instagram Account Shares Cool Picture Of Ute Stadium From 1938

Utah football has come a long way and it's fun to take a step back to really appreciate the growth of the program through social media.

8 months ago

Brant Kuithe - Utah Utes vs. Ohio State - Rose Bowl Game...

Michelle Bodkin

Utes Bulletin: Things Happening In Utah Athletics (Week Of 6/12/23)

It's officially the summer “break” for Utah Athletics, but the Utes Bulletin will continue on with points of interest in the weeks ahead.

8 months ago


Michelle Bodkin

Utes Bulletin: Things Happening In Utah Athletics (Week Of 6/5/23)

It's officially summer "break" for Utah Athletics, but the Utes Bulletin will continue on with key points of interest as they come.

9 months ago

Sponsored Articles


KSL Sports

KSL Sports Newsletter: Sign Up Now

Sign up today for the KSL Sports newsletter. Get the latest Utah sports news delivered to your inbox.


KSL Sports

Jazz Notes Newsletter: Sign Up Now

Sign up today for the Jazz Notes newsletter. Get insider analysis, game recaps and opportunities to win tickets!

Follow @kslsports...

The Road Home Mediathon 2023

The KSL Sports Zone and are proud to support the all-day Mediathon 2023 at the Road Home, an annual tradition to raise money and other essential items for the Road Home, a Homeless Shelter.

3 kids wearing real salt lake jerseys smiling...

Real Salt Lake

6 Reasons You Need to Experience a RSL Matchday

RSL Games are a great way to spend time with your family with fun activities, good food, and traditions you can only experience at the field.

High angle view of the beautiful Rose Bowl Stadium...

KSL Digital Sales

How to Prepare for the 2023 Rose Bowl

Everything you need to know to plan your 2023 Rose Bowl trip in Pasadena, California. This year, the Utes will face Penn State.


KSL Digital Sales

Notable Moments From The Utah Jazz Season… So Far

At the beginning of the season, the Utah Jazz were second to last. Now they rank in the top 10 teams in the Western Conference.

Utah Football Returns Young Safeties Full Of Talent