One On One With Kyle Whittingham- Part 2 of 3

In part two of our three part interview, InsideTheUtes sits down with Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham to discuss how the running back situation will work in 2011, replacing Brandon Burton, the remaining recruiting targets for 2011, the move to the Pac 12 and more...

You lose two guys in the secondary with Brandon Burton jumping early and Justin Taplin-Ross. Burton is a guy you absolutely can't replace with tremendous skill level. How do you try to fill the void those two will create?

Well if we move Brian, we'll actually lose the entire secondary with Lamar Chapman, so there's a chance the entire secondary will need to be retooled and rebuilt. Again you rely on the recruiting that's taken place the last few years. In terms of the guys that are going to have to step up: The Conroy Blacks and the Ryan Lacys of the world. Those are the guys that have to step up and fill those voids. You're absolutely right about Brandon Burton. He's a tremendously talented player. It's tough to fill those shoes. We seem to have had a good run at corner. This will be the fourth or fifth corner in a row that's been drafted out of our system. Hopefully we'll be able to reload and put guys out there who can get it done.

At running back Matt and Eddie are graduating and Shak had to retire. You got a lot of young guys without a lot of experience You've got John White who's signed with you, the JC guy, another running back that is coming in, and you could pick up another marquee guy tomorrow (Saturday). How will the running back position work in 2011? Are you looking to have more of a single feature back or stick with the running back by committee? What's the ideal situation there?

Well first of all that position took a big hit with losing Matt and Eddie and then Shak on top of that. We anticipated losing Matt and Eddie with it being their senior seasons. Losing Shak in addition to that really decimated that position. We do have two young running backs in the program in Beau Burton and Lucky Radley. Lucky is coming off of shoulder surgery so he's going to be limited in spring football. With the addition of John White, we need to sign anther couple more backs to add to the mix. How that shakes out and whether it is going to be a feature back who is going to get the majority of the carries, or more like we did this year where we have a couple of guys, remains to be seen. We'll just have to see how these guys pan out once they get here.

Losing Jereme Brooks and Shaky Smithson, you've got a lot of receivers on the team, but not a lot of experience outside of DeVonte Christopher and Luke Matthews. Who are the guys that you're looking to fill the roles of Jereme Brooks and Shaky?

We did take a hit. The last couple of years we've taken some big hits at receiver. Last year was Aiona Key and David Reed, John Peel and Elijah Wesson. This year we had another group graduate. The guys that we need to have step up in addition to the guys you already mentioned, the obvious guys, Mo Lee, a guy that we're very high on who we redshirted this past season who has a lot of ability. Dres Anderson is another guy we redshirted this past season that looked tremendous on the scout team. Kenneth Scott is the next guy, coming off of a very serious ankle injury, and he's progressed very well. Hopefully, if things continue on the track they're on, he'll be able to make a full comeback by fall.

Recruiting. You have close to 20 commits for the 2011 class. What positions are you still looking to fill?

Well we still need a couple O-linemen, we're a little bit lean at the O-line position. We're still looking for another running back. We'll see how that shakes out in the near future here. A couple of corners, a wide receiver. Really the bottom line is we're looking for the best football players available. If we got a great player that's available to us and wants to come to Utah at a certain position, it's not a matter of quota. We'll take the best players available overall and fit them into the right spots.

How about the quarterback situation? Are you pretty much done recruiting quarterbacks?

Yeah. We feel like the players we have in line to join the program and with Jordan and Griff already being here, we feel like if everything holds status quo, then we should be in good shape.

What about for 2012? Is that something you've evaluated yet and what are the plans for 2012 at quarterback?

We really try to sign one every year. That's the standard protocol. However that can be altered depending on injury situations or transfer situations. It's not absolute. If you were to say what's the ideal situation at quarterback, it's to sign one each year.

What kind of changes have you seen in recruiting seen since you've made the jump to the Pac 12?

Well first of all, within 10 days to two weeks of the announcement we had six or seven commits.

Having your camp right after the announcement was helpful?

It was. There were a few factors. An overriding factor was the announcement of us going to the Pac 12 and that allowed us to get commitments from several players that, quite honestly, we probably would not have been able to get in on had we not had that Pac 12 affiliation.

As a program, what advantages and challenges do you anticipate as you move into the Pac 12?

Well the bar has been raised in all areas. Facility wise. The facilities in the Pac 10 are outstanding so we have some work to do there. Recruiting wise we've had a lot success with our evaluations by our assistant coaches going after some of those guys that are being overlooked for one reason or another, going under the radar, so that's still going to be a big part of our recruitment process, but we're going to have to be competitive on the higher profile guys. We'll be banging heads with guys like USC, Cal-Berkely, and Stanford. So everything has just been ratcheted up.

Do you think that has paid dividends so far with this recruiting class?

I think so. Time will tell. It appears that way, but you can't really judge a recruiting class until two years down the road. It's all speculation until you've had a chance to work with them for a couple of years to see what you've got. Often times players that become your best players, the Eric Weddles and Steve Fifitas, are guys that were hardly recruited at all. It's not an exact science. Recruiting is by no means an exact science, but all indications are that we've put together a pretty good class.

Check back to InsideTheUtes in the coming days for part 3 of 3.

Ute Zone Top Stories