Spring Position Battles- Linebacker

The Utes lose two starters, but return plenty of talented linebackers...

Contenders: Brian Blechen, Jacoby Hale, Dave Fagergren, Victor Spikes, Trevor Reilly, Jared Norris, L.T. Filiaga, V.J. Fehoko, Boo Anderson
Favorites: Blechen, Hale, Reilly, Fehoko, Anderson
Dark Horse: Filiaga
Winners: Blechen, Fehoko, Reilly

Kyle Whittingham and Kalani Sitake have an embarrassment of riches at the linebacker spots and they'll put the best 3 players on the field. Gone are the workman-like players in Chaz Walker and Matt Martinez. They were effective, but if Utah is going to compete in the Pac 12, bigger, stronger, and faster players are now going to be the norm. Brian Blechen is the best of the bunch, and started out the season at linebacker in 2011, before moving back to his starting spot at safety midway through the year due to need. Blechen's best suited to play linebacker and ultimately should end up there if the Utes can find enough playmakers to put at safety despite being initially slotted as a DB. Reilly started off last season on fire, racking up huge games with multiple sacks and tackles for loss. The outside linebacker/defensive end was a terror in the backfield until other teams started noticing and slowed him down over the second half of the year. Fehoko is a bowling ball of a player, who's short, but built like a rock. He was impressive in limited time in 2011, and with another spring under his belt, should be ready to jump in and compete for, if not win, one of the starting spots. Fehoko is just too talented to keep off of the field. Veterans Boo Anderson, Victor Spikes, Dave Fagergren, and Jacoby Hale will all push for time as well.

The guys to really watch out for are Filiaga and Norris. Filiaga is coming off of a mission and may be rusty, but he was a highly ranked linebacker back in 2009 coming out of Bingham High. Norris has tremendous athleticism and is a very heady player. Imagine Brian Blechen will better speed. While it's doubtful that either starts, it wouldn't be surprising if either or both land in the two deep. Regardless of who comes out on top in the spring, these battles will continue into the fall as freshman Reshawn Hooker joins the mix and players are shuffled about.

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