UTAH UTES

Safety Sione Vaki Trending Toward Primarily Playing Offense For Utah

Oct 23, 2023, 2:23 PM

SALT LAKE CITY – Before the season started, there were many prognosticators who felt safety Sione Vaki could be a breakout star for Utah. They were correct, but the surprise is how that is happening.

It is no secret the Utes have been banged up from the jump in 2023 and were in desperate need of a spark- particularly on offense.

Utah’s coaching staff went to work doing what it does best when their backs are against a wall- identifying their best available players and moving them in positions to be difference makers. Vaki happened to be one of those players.

Offense Is Nothing New For Sione Vaki

Vaki was a standout offensive player in Northern California through his high school years, impressing as a running back and slot receiver.

When Utah took note of him, they envisioned him as a playmaker on defense which he has been. Last season, as a freshman playing safety, Vaki forty-one tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, with one forced fumble and three pass breakups

In 2023, Vaki has contributed a team-best 33 tackles while ranking second on the team with 6.5 tackles for loss. He’s also added one sack, an interception, and a pass breakup while being tied for fourth in the Pac-12 with 5.5 tackles for loss during conference play.

However, while Vaki has quietly been good for Utah on defense, he’s made an explosive impact for the Utes on offense the past two games going back to his high school roots.

Vaki made his first appearance as a running back in Utah’s lone loss of the season to Oregon State, but Cal is where he really put people on notice.

Against the Golden Bears, Vaki rushed 15 times for 158 yards and two touchdowns, helping get Utah’s offense back on track with a 34-14 win. Vaki wasn’t finished though.

The following weekend against USC at the Coliseum, Vaki accounted for nine rushes for 68 yards while averaging 7.6 yards per carry. Additionally, Vaki showed off his receiver chops where he was even more potent, accounting for five catches for 149 yards and two touchdowns while racking up 113 yards after catch.

Where Does Sione Vaki’s Future Lie?

After the Cal game, head coach Kyle Whittingham was pretty adamant about Vaki still being a defensive player who would just so happen to play offense. Fast forward to Monday and it appears the tune is changing a bit when asked if he may end up primarily being an offensive player.

“It seems to be trending in that direction. We’ll see where it ends up,” Whittingham said. “The first thing we have to do is make sure we don’t overload him- make his workload too heavy and too much to handle. There is also a mental aspect to it too, it’s not just physical. The safety position here is a lot of adjustments. They do all of the adjustments and coverage calls. They run the show back there. There is a lot at play mentally with that. It’s analytically proven the impact of offense is greater than the impact of defense. We’re going to continue to have him be a big part of the offense and see how much he can handle.”

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 XInstagram, and Threads: @BodkinKSLsports

Are you on Threads yet? Let’s connect, give us a follow @kslsports

Download the new & improved KSL Sports app from Utah’s sports leader. You can stream live radio, video and stay up to date on all of your favorite teams.

  • Utah Utes Scoreboard

  • Utah Utes Team Leaders

  • Utah Utes Standings

Utah Utes

olympic-cauldron-park-outside-newly-renovated-rice-eccles-stadium-2022...

Michelle Bodkin

Former Utah Utes Athletes Set To Compete At 2024 Paris Olympics

All eyes turn to Paris, France, next week for the 2024 Summer Olympics and there will be a few former Utah athletes taking the big stage.

1 day ago

baseballs...

Brian Preece

Locals In MiLB: Justin Sterner Gets Second Cup Of Coffee With Tampa Bay Rays

The life of a minor league bullpen arm is rarely straightforward, as former BYU Cougar standout pitcher Justin Sterner can attest.

3 days ago

kai-roberts-micah-ashman-celebrate-utah-win-2024...

Michelle Bodkin

Kai Roberts, Micah Ashman Recount High School Basketball Rivalry After MLB Draft

Former Utah baseball stars Kai Roberts and Micah Ashman recounted a high school basketball rivalry after being drafted to the MLB.

3 days ago

merit jones...

Brian Preece

Utah Baseball Starting Pitcher Merit Jones Selected By Minnesota Twins

The Boston Red Sox have selected University of Utah starting pitcher Merit Jones with the 608th overall pick in the 2024 MLB draft.

4 days ago

micah ashman...

Brian Preece

Detroit Tigers Select Utah Utes Closer Micah Ashman In MLB Draft

Micah Ashman is the second Ute to hear his name called in the 2024 MLB draft after the Detroit Tigers picked him in the 11th round.

4 days ago

Smith-Snowden-Utah-Utes...

Michelle Bodkin

Getting To Know Utah Football’s 2024 Schedule: Arizona State Sun Devils

It’s time to dive into Utah football's game six against another familiar former Pac-12 foe in the Arizona State Sun Devils

4 days ago

Sponsored Articles

...

KSL Sports

Utah Hockey Newsletter: Sign Up Now

Want to get the latest info on Utah's newest sports franchise? Sign up for the Utah Hockey newsletter!

ksl-sports-newsletter...

KSL Sports

KSL Sports Newsletter: Sign Up Now

Sign up today for the KSL Sports newsletter. Get the latest Utah sports news delivered to your inbox.

...

KSL Sports

Jazz Notes Newsletter: Sign Up Now

Sign up today for the Jazz Notes newsletter. Get insider analysis, game recaps and opportunities to win tickets!

3 kids wearing real salt lake jerseys smiling...

Real Salt Lake

6 Reasons You Need to Experience a RSL Matchday

RSL Games are a great way to spend time with your family with fun activities, good food, and traditions you can only experience at the field.

High angle view of the beautiful Rose Bowl Stadium...

KSL Digital Sales

How to Prepare for the 2023 Rose Bowl

Everything you need to know to plan your 2023 Rose Bowl trip in Pasadena, California. This year, the Utes will face Penn State.

Jordan-Clarkson-Utah-Jazz...

KSL Digital Sales

Notable Moments From The Utah Jazz Season… So Far

At the beginning of the season, the Utah Jazz were second to last. Now they rank in the top 10 teams in the Western Conference.

Safety Sione Vaki Trending Toward Primarily Playing Offense For Utah