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Vonte Davis and Clark Phillips - Utah Utes vs. Oregon State Beavers
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Utah Football Returns Young Safeties Full Of Talent

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)

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.