Ten To Watch At Utah’s Spring Game

Apr 22, 2022, 5:03 PM
Utah Utes - Pac-12 Championship Game...
The University of Utah Utes celebrate after winning the PAC-12 Football Championship Game against the Oregon Ducks on December 3, 2021 at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Speer/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
(Photo by Jeff Speer/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Salt Lake City- The Utes have been hard at practice for the past four weeks and now fans finally get the opportunity Saturday to get a little taste of the 2022 squad. There have been a lot of names mentioned as standouts by the coaches over the last month, so to help you out we’ve compiled a shortlist of ten guys to watch closely in Saturday’s game.

Bryson Barnes, #16 Offense

The Milford, Utah quarterback really turned heads when he came in relief of starter Cam Rising in the Rose Bowl against Ohio State. Barnes wasted no time throwing a game-tying touchdown to Dalton Kincaid giving the Utes a chance to get the win. Unfortunately, time was not on Utah or Barnes’ side, but the intrigue around the small town walk-on quarterback grew exponentially. Barnes has received a lot of praise for his play this spring and will be hoping to lock up the second quarterback spot.

Ja’Quinden Jackson, #3 Offense

Also competing for that second quarterback spot is Texas transfer Ja’Quinden Jackson. Jackson has spent a year with the Utes and appears to have made some significant jumps to his game since his arrival. The coaches have noted he is making better decisions and throwing a nice ball making the race for number two behind Rising a tight one. Jackson also carries some intrigue not only because of his size and athleticism, but his strong connection to fallen teammates Ty Jordan and Aaron Lowe.

Jaylon Glover, #1 Offense

From the first day of media availability Glover has been a top topic of conversation. The freshman running back from Florida wasted no time turning heads with his play and personality. Glover has gotten a lot of touches this spring and has made the most of each and every one of them. Now it will be time for him to perform on a slightly bigger stage in hopes of earning a place in the regular running back rotation for the Utes in 2022.

Lander Barton, #20 Defense

Another freshman that has been talked about nonstop since spring ball kicked off is legacy kid Lander Barton. Based on everything that has been said and a few glimpses of practice it would appear Barton is on his way to adding his own stamp to the family name for Utah. It won’t be easy, filling shoes left behind by guys like Devin Lloyd and Nephi Sewell never is. However, Barton has the talent to pave his own similar successes and it will be interesting to see how quickly and often he’s thrown out there for the Utes come fall.

Kenzel Lawler, #2 Defense

Cornerback depth has been a bit of a concern for fans heading into spring and for good reason. Utah was decimated by injury at the position by the end of the 2021 season. Lawler has now had two seasons with the Utes and has made some strides in his game this spring. At 5’11” and 200 pounds, Lawler has ideal  size to play the position well and his emergence could give the group one more tool than they had the year before.

Falcon Kaumatule, #59 Offense

Kaumatule is another guy who has been in Utah’s program for a while and seems to be growing in his role. Utah is tasked with replacing two key pieces of their really good offensive line from a year ago in Nick Ford and Bam Olaseni. Kaumatule has received praise from both head coach Kyle Whittingham and his position coach Jim Harding for his performance this spring. It’s possible the former defensive lineman could be a new fixture in Utah’s offensive line in 2022.

Connor O’Toole, #81 Defense

O’Toole may have made one of the biggest position transitions this year for the Utes going from receiver to defensive end. Perhaps even better is that by all accounts the position switch has been a success. Utah prides itself on their pass rush and ability to pressure the quarterback. O’Toole very well may be in the mix come fall of 2022.


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Devaughn Vele, #17 Offense

It’s been a while since Utah has had a legit number one receiver and so far Vele has been checking all of the boxes in spring. Vele comes in with ideal size at 6’5″ and catch radius to bring passes in and be a nightmare for the opposing team’s defensive backs. The connection between Vele and Rising is clearly there and hopefully the health and consistency is too. Offensive coordinator Andy Ludwig is on record saying the offense wants to do a better job stretching the perimeter and Vele could be the answer.

Sione Vaki, #28 Defense

Vaki signed with Utah in 2019 but left on a mission. Now he is back and vying for play time in a safety room that has some vacancies. Cole Bishop will most certainly be in that mix, but the other bodies remain a bit of a mystery. The California native has the typical size for the position at 6′ even and 207 pounds, but having a strong finish in the spring game could go a long way in determining the safety pecking order.

Jonah Elliss, #83 Defense

Elliss is another guy who comes with Utah pedigree and started coming on strong for the Utes to finish out last season. Based on conversations, media availability, and practice observation Elliss seems to be picking up right where he left off. Elliss’ ceiling is very high and Van Fillinger needs a new partner in crime since Mika Tafua declared for the NFL Draft.


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How To Watch

The Utes will take the field at 12 p.m. MT on the Pac-12 Networks or you can go to the game at Rice-Eccles Stadium with a $22 ticket donation to the Ty Jordan and Aaron Lowe Memorial Scholarship.


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