Who Could Replace Brant Kuithe’s Production For Utah?
SALT LAKE CITY- Loosing a player like tight end Brant Kuithe for the season is not ideal for the Utes, but it’s also not the end of the world. Since joining the Pac-12 in 2011, Utah has put in work on the recruiting front to be able to withstand a P5 schedule. It took a while to reap the results of the effort, but in 2022 Utah is in a place where losing a starter here and there as the season goes on isn’t necessarily going to change the trajectory of their season. With that said, lets take a look at some possible players who could help replace Kuithe’s production.
Thank you to John for sending this to me. Scary but optimistic about the future. embracing everything that comes with it. Also, thank you to everyone that’s reached out, it means a lot! I’ll be back better than before.. pic.twitter.com/zO2gH0MNm5
— Brant kuithe (@Brantkuithe14) September 27, 2022
If we are looking strictly at a tight end replacing a tight end, Thomas Yassmin appears to be the next man up. In his Monday press conference, head coach Kyle Whittingham specifically singled out Yassmin as the guy who will take the bulk of Kuithe’s snaps.
Yassmin has been with the Utes since 2018 and is very new to the sport of football. Back home in Australia, Yassmin was a rugby star, but the Utes felt like he showed some big potential as a football player- even though he’d never played a down until he arrived on campus. The process took a while- much longer than even Yassmin expected, but he’s finally in a place where he seems like he’s ready to take on more responsibility.
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Yassmin doesn’t have a lot of production to his name yet. Outside of a 72-yard pass Yassmin hauled in from quarterback Cam Rising last week against Arizona State there aren’t a ton of stats there, but it showed exactly why the coaches had a lot of belief in him. Yassmin is an athletic freak with good hands, size and speed to get the job done.
The good news is Yassmin won’t have to completely carry the load on his own, at least not to start. Fellow tight end Dalton Kincaid has proven to be quite capable himself over the past season and a half for the Utes being the peanut butter to Kuithe’s jelly. Until Yassmin gets completely comfortable (could happen quickly or could take a game or two) Kincaid will be someone who can help navigate the extra responsibility left behind by Kuithe.
Devaugh Vele And The Receivers
It feels like Devaughn Vele and the receiving corps has been coming on at just the right time. While a little absent to start the season, Vele has slowly been ramping things up and he’s had some help from his fellow receivers Solomon Enis, Money Parks, and Jaylen Dixon. Their roles could expand significantly without Kuithe on the field to help haul in passes.
Vele has the size, speed, and hands to be really dangerous and the “new guy” that defenses need to keep an eye on every down. Enis does not posses the same speed, but has the size to bully defenders when assigned to blocks, he also possesses some nice hands that have bailed the Utes out in some critical third down situations. Parks and Dixon are both burners who could help keep Utah on the right track through the center of the field playing more of the slot position that Kuithe was often put in.
Much like Parks and Dixon, running back Micah Bernard is a burner who could help out with the Utes’ midfield game that Kuithe’s absence will leave open. Bernard is good with sweeps off hand-offs, but he can also get loose and go downfield for a pass.
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Bernard is down lower on the list than some of the others not due to talent, but he has been having some cramping issues according to Whittingham that limits how many touches he can handle. Still, don’t count Bernard out as someone who can step up without Kuithe available. All you have to do is watch the Rose Bowl to know Bernard is game for however he can help the team.
This one is most likely a little down the road, but don’t be surprised if quarterback turned running back as of a week ago Ja’Quinden Jackson doesn’t have some “Kuithe packages” at some point this season. He’s that talented. First however, he needs to continue getting comfortable at running back and the reports on his progress there continue to be positive.
Jackson is another guy who brings good size, speed, and athleticism to the table for the Utes and some versatility they can get creative with to keep defenses on their toes once he finishes establishing himself at running back.
It’s hard to know exactly how big of an impact Kuithe’s missing presence on the field will have for the Utes. I don’t think Utah “replaces” Kuithe with a single guy and that’s not a bad thing. Utah has talked about their depth and having weapons all over the place available to them this season. Now is the time to put that to the test. In some ways, though it seems a little cold to say, Kuithe not being on the field may just be what the Utes need to really set the offense into overdrive. Or it could prove not to be, but that would be a different problem for a different day. In the here and now before the Utes take on Oregon State, the possibilities feel endless.
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