Breaking Down Utah Football’s 2023 Position Groups: Cornerbacks

Jul 13, 2023, 11:22 AM

SALT LAKE CITY –Fall camp is just under a month away for Utah football and to help refresh our minds for it, we’ll be breaking down each of the Utes’ 2023 position groups.

Every week till “Camp Kyle” kicks off, look for one offensive and one defensive position group per week. Today we take a look at a group that’s going to look a little different than it has the past few years but has a ton of potential in the cornerbacks.

Leading the way will be cornerback coach Sharrieff Shah who joined Utah’s staff in 2012 and has pretty much hit the ground running from the jump. The cornerbacks will have to do it without pick-six machine Clark Phillips III in 2023 since being selected in the fourth round by the Atlanta Falcons. However, Shah’s group has several players who are ready to step up, while also bringing in some exciting new talent.


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Taking A Look At The Utah Cornerbacks.

As mentioned above, Phillips III will be a big loss for this group, however, there are a lot of returning athletes who have seen significant playing time against the likes of Ohio State, USC, Oregon, etc. over the past few seasons and should be ready to step into a larger role. Add in having a coach in Shah who is now in his 11th season with the team and you have to like your odds.

Expect the group to be anchored by guys like JT Broughton, Zemaiah Vaughn, and Faybian Marks who have all played significant roles for the Utes in the defensive backfield even with CPIII around.

A Closer Look At The Cornerback Returners

*Bolded names indicate significant experience.

  • JaTravis Broughton, Senior, played in all 14 games with 11 starts at cornerback in 2022, 35 career games with 18 starts, Pac-12 honorable mention as a sophomore in 2020.
  • Elijah Davis, Redshirt Freshman, played in three games in freshman season last year.
  • Nick Howe, Sophomore, saw no action last year.
  • Tao Johnson, Redshirt Freshman, played in four games at wide receiver and on special teams in 2022.
  • Kenzel Lawler, Sophomore, played in five games, seeing time on defense and special teams in 2022.
  • Jocelyn Malaska, Redshirt Freshman, got reserve action in three games, including in the Pac-12 Championship and Rose Bowl Game last season.
  • Faybian Marks, Junior, played in six games as a reserve corner and on special teams in 2022, played in 10 games the season before, starting seven before being sidelined due to injury.
  • Zemaiah Vaughn, Junior, played in all 14 games with seven starts, including the last six contests in 2022, got in 13 games with four starts in the previous season.

Who Is New At Cornerback For The Utes?

The Utes had a historic signing class in 2023 and the incoming cornerback talent both from high school and the transfer portal is a big reason why.


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Some Words From Sharrieff Shah About The Utah Cornerbacks Room.

Unfortunately, the cornerback room was nursing some bumps and bruises through spring ball, but on the plus-side it allowed coach Shah to work more with some of the newcomers to get them up to speed for a very important 2023 season.

“After spring, I’ll tell you we started with 12 corners and have four playing right now,” Shah said. “It’s been a freakishly strange spring in that as much as the folks you wanted to see continue to play just got dinged up a little bit. It provided the opportunity for Miles Battle to get reps and he needed it. You know, God-given attributes- I can’t make anyone 6’4″ and 200 lbs., but I am so happy he is with me right now because there are some things he needed to learn and still needs to learn that I think will make him a good cornerback in our program. It’s been fantastic.”

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, Instagram, and Threads: @BodkinKSLsports

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Breaking Down Utah Football’s 2023 Position Groups: Cornerbacks