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Xavier Carlton - Utah Utes vs. Oregon State Beavers
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Utah Football Will See Shakeup At Defensive End Heading Into 2021 Season

Utah DE Xavier Carlton (44) in a game between the Oregon State Beavers and the Utah Utes on December 5, 2020 at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City, Utah. (Photo by Boyd Ivey/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – As the University of Utah football team started fall camp, they did so without one of their starting defensive ends.

After the first day of fall camp concluded, head coach Kyle Whittingham confirmed the Maxs Tupai will not be playing for the Utes this season.

“No, it doesn’t look like Maxs will be with us this year,” Whittingham said. “So that’s unfortunate and we’ll miss him. But he’s going to not be with us as far as playing for us this year.”

Whittingham didn’t disclose the reason for Tupai’s departure. The Murray High School star played in 36 career games with 13 starts. He had six tackles, one tackle for loss and a sack, along with two forced fumbles, one quarterback hurry and a pass breakup last season in five games.

Now the Utes will turn to two talented young players in Xavier Carlton and Van Fillinger, who were both freshmen in 2020. With college eligibility frozen last season due to the COVID-19 pandemic, they are true freshmen again. Whittingham believes both of them are ready to step in and fill the void at defensive end on the opposite side of Mika Tafua.

“Yep, they are,” Whittingham stated. “They had good experience last year. So even though they are true freshmen on the roster, they’re not true freshmen experience wise, and you add Miki Suguturaga to that group. He’ll be the fourth guy. And that’s what we’re going to go and figure out who’s going to be number five and six as we go through fall camp.”

Carlton was a four-star prospect coming out of Juan Diego High School. He played in four games last season. Fillinger was also a four-star prospect from Corner Canyon High School. He played in all five games in 2020.

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.