Utah Nickelback Malone Mataele Will Enter The Transfer Portal

Nov 22, 2022, 9:51 AM
Malone Mataele - Utah Utes...
University of Utah defensive back Malone Mataele during fall camp. (Photo courtesy of Utah Athletics)
(Photo courtesy of Utah Athletics)

SALT LAKE CITY- It’s that time of year where football student-athletes will be making the hard decision- do I stay, or do I go? For Utah nickelback Malone Mataele, the decision is to go as he announced late Monday on his Twitter. The NCAA Transfer Portal opens up on December 5th and Mataele plans to put his name in.

About Mataele

Mataele has been with the Utes since 2018 and will be looking to find a new home in 2023. The defensive back has 11 total starts under his belt at nickelback since 2020 but has played in a total of 35 games with a mixture of being on special teams and defense.

Mataele has totaled 43 tackles in his career, 2.5 tackles for a loss, and six pass breakups. Perhaps the highlight of Mataele’s career came against Oregon in the Pac-12 Championship Game last year where he recorded his first and only interception as a Ute.

There were high hopes for Mataele heading into the 2022 season, but the emergence of freshman Sione Vaki has primarily put Mataele in a backup role for the Utes making it understandable for him to want to transfer for his final year of eligibility.

Mataele was a three-star prospect out of Santa Margarita High School according to 247 Sports. He measures in at 5’11” and 184 pounds.

What This Means For The Utes

Every year teams need to make room for incoming classes and Mataele deciding to move on helps the Utes in that quest. While a good player, Mataele never really established dominance at the position in his four years on campus and a fresh start may ultimately be what both he and the program need.

The Utes do have an exciting prospect that has grown leaps and bounds through the 2022 season in Vaki that they are high on moving forward. Mataele’s transfer ultimately opens the door for others currently on Utah’s roster to slide into more of a backup role- Caine Savage is someone who immediately comes to mind.

There is also the prospect of opening up space for the incoming 2023 class where Utah may find someone to fill the role as well.


Michelle Bodkin is the Utah Utes Insider for KSLsports.com and host of both the Crimson Corner Podcast (SUBSCRIBE) and The Saturday Show (Saturday from 10 a.m.–12 p.m.) on The KSL Sports Zone. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram: @BodkinKSLsports


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