At the beginning of spring ball, it appeared as if the Utes would be replacing all three starters from 2010 with Jereme Brooks and Shaky Smithson graduating and Luke Matthews moving to running back. That may still be the case despite Matthews initial move to running back, then fullback, and ultimately back to receiver. With the Utes going to a two receiver set out of the west coast offense, the wide receiver competition became quite logjammed in the spring although at times you'd still see three, four, and five receiver sets.
Despite an injury that kept him out for half of spring camp, Devonte Christopher showed that he'll be the star of the receiving corp, as most expected him to be. When healthy and on the field, the ball was almost always thrown Christopher's way. If he takes the same strides from one season to the next that he took last year, he'll be an All Conference receiver who makes 60+ catches for 800+ yards and 8+ touchdowns. He gives the Utes a reliable receiver, who is also going to be a big play guy as well. Having both of those characteristics is what turns a good player into a great player.
The other star of spring camp turned out to be redshirt freshman Dres Anderson who rocketed up the depth chart and now sits as the starter according to the coaches. Anderson was magnificent, showing blazing speed, tremendous route running, and solid hands, proving that he'll be a threat that Pac 12 defenses are going to have to watch for, specifically on the deep balls.
Although he was in a no contact jersey throughout camp and missed a few days, fellow redshirt freshman Kenneth Scott was impressive in his limited time on the field. With ideal size and athleticism, and a confident streak a mile long, Scott is the kind of player that could breakout in 2011, provided he stays healthy.
He didn't have a poor spring, but Reggie Dunn did find himself trailing in the race for one of the starter spots after entering camp penciled in at the top. Dunn showed why he's considered one of the fastest players on the team with a few long catches along the sidelines where he ran right past the coverage. A weapon in the run game on the reverses and end arounds, Dunn is going to be arguably the Utes number one big play threat on offense.
Dexter Ransom is still somewhat of an unknown with this team and it's hard to peg exactly what his role will be. He's a big guy at 6-3 and close to 220 lbs and looks like a linebacker or defensive end. The Utes used him primarily as a blocker in 2010 and he excelled, but had a solid spring with a breakout performance in the spring game where he was arguably the game MVP with 4 catches for 57 yards and the game's only touchdown. Not a burner by any means, he still showed reliability going over the middle and catching balls.
What to do with Luke Matthews. The Ute coaches don't seem to be clear either as he's currently not in the two deep at any position, despite being one of the best and most consistent players regardless of where he was lining up throughout camp. He was one of the best receivers when he was there and didn't seem to lose anything from 2010 despite the tryout at running back and fullback early in camp. The coaches need to find a way to get him on the field.
Griffin McNabb didn't have the spring that he did last season where he came out of nowhere to firmly establish himself as a player in the receiver game. A reliable slot threat, he catches everything his way, but still has issues getting open at times and is hard for the quarterbacks to find. He was solid, but will make his biggest impact in 2011 returning punts.
Martavious Lee started the spring at receiver before trying his luck at fullback of all places, and eventually settling at safety by the end of camp. Lee is arguably the best route runner on the team, displaying great feet, but had drop after drop after drop, making him a liability to throw the ball to. If safety doesn't work out, Lee May slide back to receiver, but he seems excited about the change of position.
With JC transfer Anthony Denham coming aboard over the summer, this could all change quickly. Denham has the size and talent to immediately make himself the best receiver on the roster, and looks like a first day NFL draft pick.
Norm Chow loves to use the tight ends and the Utah tight ends benefited in spring ball with more passes thrown their way than in any recent Utah spring camp. While there were inconsistencies at times with drops and in the blocking game, guys like Kendrick Moeia and Westlee Tonga looked ready to have their athleticism utilized by Chow. Both have added weight and are physically impressive, especially Tonga, who had a nice camp. Dallin Rogers looks like he'll be used more in blocking roles than catching the ball, but could still be a goal line threat. Jake Murphy showed tons of athleticism while splitting time between tight end and fullback and will likely be used in both spots. If the Utes can get consisent play out of the quarterback going into the fall, the tight ends will thrive.
Overall Spring Camp Position Grade: C+
Inside The Utes Depth Chart Heading Into Fall Camp:
Spring Recap- Wide Receiver
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