Looking To 2013: Offense

Looking at the offensive position groups and where they will be next season in comparison to 2012


Departures: Jordan Wynn, Jon Hays

For the first time in years, Utah has neither a quarterback controversy nor a QB coming off of a big injury coming into the season. Travis Wilson is the starter and there's really no debate. The true freshman was decent in his first year as a starter when he took over for Jon Hays midway through the year. Now, with a full off-season under his belt and the chance to take all of the first team snaps in the spring, Wilson is going to be head and shoulders better in 2013 than he was in 2012. They say the biggest jump you make is often between your freshman and sophomore year. With the amount of time Wilson puts in, both on and off the field, expect him to make huge strides between now and game 1 against Utah State. Behind Wilson is Adam Schulz, who saw action against Washington State and threw a couple of great looking balls. Not the answer at QB long term, Schulz is a capable backup who will keep the Utes in games if Wilson suffers an injury.

Coming in behind the two returners are two solid high school signal callers. Conner Manning set all kinds of records in his career at El Toro High School in Southern California. He has decent size and is built fairly well with the frame to put on another 20 pounds or so over his career. Manning is a smart QB, who is accurate and makes the right reads. Not a ton of arm-strength, but is fairly game ready and will adapt quickly to the speed of college. Brandon Cox is a true dual-threat. A bit underrated by many as a passer, Cox can sling it around pretty well, but is most valuable to Utah next season running the ball. The athlete could be the fastest prep QB in the west and the Utes will look at multiple ways to get the ball in his hands in the fall to see what he can do. Despite the overall lack of seniority and experience, the quarterback situation is setup fairly well for 2013 and beyond.

Projected Depth Chart
Travis Wilson (So)
Adam Schulz (So)
Brandon Cox (Fr) or
Conner Manning (Fr)

Position Status: Upgrade

Running Back

Departures: John White

There's a lot of depth, but outside of York, who hasn't been able to stay healthy, there isn't much experience. York showed that he's more than capable this year, at one time looking like he'd take over for John White as the feature back. With another full year in the system and a chance to heal up, the Peppermint Patty looks primed for an 800+ yard season. If he can't get the job done, there are plenty of options behind him. Devontae Booker is a JC speedster and will get carries next year. Jarrell Oliver had a disappointing year and will be coming off of injury. Lucky Radley is a warrior, but isn't an every-down back. Radley was under-utilized last season and Brian Johnson needs to split him out wide more to take advantage of his solid hands. James Poole added depth last year after Harvey Langi left for a mission and will do again this year, but isn't a viable option yet. Freshmen Dre'Vian Young and Marcus Williams are likely redshirt candidates with the players in front of them, but Young is the kind of athlete that you want to get on the field. He reminds me of LaMichael James and will be one of the Utes' best athletes as soon as he gets on campus.

With all of the players on the roster, and the possibility of elite JC back Cameron Artis-Payne coming on as well, Utah will have 8 scholarship running backs. That's too many. Expect a position change or two, or possibly even a transfer with some guys unhappy about being buried.

Projected Depth Chart
Kelvin York (Sr)
Devontae Booker (Jr)
Jarrell Oliver (So)
Lucky Radley (Jr)
James Poole (So)
Dre'Vian Young (Fr)
Marcus Williams (Fr)

Position Status: Same

Wide Receiver

Departures: Devonte Christopher, Luke Matthews, Reggie Dunn

Devonte Christopher had one of the most disappointing seasons by a Ute in recent memory. His athleticism will be missed, but there wasn't much production. Team captain Luke Matthews is a loss from a leadership standpoint and his ability to block downfield, but again, not much production. Reggie Dunn was a special teams threat and not much more. There's going to be more size and speed on the field next season at wide receiver. Dres Anderson and Kenneth Scott are known quanities and will only be better next season. Anthony Denham really emerged as the year went on and looks like he might be able to fulfill the potential that was promised when he signed out of junior college two years ago. Ute fans should be psyched about incoming junior college pass catcher Andre Lewis. Lewis has great size and speed, and might be the best JC receiver in the country. He'll make an impact from day 1 and could be the game-breaking receiver the Utes have lacked over the past few seasons.

Sean Fitzgerald is a veteran who can be a red-zone threat. Youngsters Quinton Pedroza, Delshawn McClellon and Xavier Shepherd will all get a chance to show what they can do and are all Pac 12 level recruits. McClellon can fly, while Shepherd has a lot of speed to burn. Pedroza has been mismanaged in his time at Utah, but is an athletic freak who could be a breakout candidate in 2013. If there is one guy that fans don't know about yet, but will know about soon, it's Brian Allen. Allen redshirted this year, but has wowed in practice and has great size and strength. A very smart kid, he'll push some of the older guys hard for time.

Projected Depth Chart:
WR 1
Dres Anderson (Jr)
Delshawn McClellon (R-Fr)
Xavier Shepherd (Fr)

WR 2
Kenneth Scott (Jr)
Sean Fitzgerald (Sr)
Brian Allen (R-Fr)

WR 3
Anthony Denham (Sr)
Andre Lewis (Jr)
Quinton Pedroza (Jr)

Position Status: Upgrade

Tight End
Projected Depth Chart
Departures: Kendrick Moeia, David Rolf

It should be the Jake Murphy show again next year. Murphy is going to compete for all conference honors and may have been the most consistent offensive player for the Utes in 2012. Anything less than 50 grabs and 8 touchdowns in 2013 will be disapointing. Tonga is a decent pass catcher, but is a better blocker than Murphy and will again be used in a lot of running situations. Newcomers Greg Reese and Harrison Handley add depth, but with Murphy on the team, don't expect either to see the field too much with Handley a likely redshirt. Handley could also end up as an H-Back.

Jake Murphy (Jr)
Westlee Tonga (Sr)
Greg Reese (Jr)
Harrison Handley (Fr)

Position Status: Same

Departures: Dallin Rogers, Max Moala

The Utes didn't use their H-Back much last season, instead making him mostly a blocker. Karl Williams is listed as a running back, but is best served in the H-Back role where he can use his above average hands to catch a few balls out of the backfield. Utah needs another playmaker to emerge at this spot.

Projected Depth Chart
Karl Williams (Sr)

Position Status: Downgrade

Offensive Line

Departures: LT Sam Brenner, RG Miles Mason, C Tevita Stevens

Utah will be replacing 3 starters who had a combined 7 years of starting experience under their belt. That said, expect the overall line play to be better in 2013. With JC transfers Marc Pouvave, Carlos Lozano, and Junior Salt coming off of redshirt years, all three will be able to come in right away and compete for time. Throw in incoming JC tackle prospect D'Ondre Wesley and the Utes will have plenty of ready-made bodies to battle for spots in the two deep.

The biggest wildcard may be Percy Taumoelau. The former starter lost his job last season, but is a talented player who could shore up the tackle spot opposite Poutasi. The ideal situation has him taking the left tackle spot. Returners in Kala Friel, Daniel Nielson, and Siaosi Aiono are youngsters who still have plenty of time to develop into Pac 12 level players, but are still a year away from making a huge impact. Regardless, they'll help provide depth. Freshman Hiva Lutui took a redshirt this year, but is possibly the most skilled lineman on the team. He's a nasty player wo will bring some toughness to the team and the Utah coaches are excited about what he'll be able to do. Lutui may start out at guard for a year before moving to center in 2014, but for now, we expect him to win the starting center spot and lock it down for the next 4 years. Vyncent Jones returns after starting the second half of the year. The senior to be could end up at either center or guard, but guard appears to be the best spot.

The top returner has to be right tackle Jeremiah Poutasi. It will be interesting to see if the coaches want to give him a crack at the coveted left tackle spot or if they'll keep him on the right side. Regardless, once he spends a couple of months working on his body, the youngster is going to be able to come out in the spring and be the Utes' best offensive lineman since Tony Bergstrom. Jeremiah Tofaeono will return from an injury and retake his starting spot at left guard. What is all comes down to for Utah is that there will be a lot more players to choose from on the line than last year. While there was depth last season, it wasn't playable depth. With another year in the program for guys like Aiono, Nielson, and Friel, the Utes won't have an issue finding 10 guys that they're comfortable with to fill out their two deep.

Projected Depth Chart
Left Tackle
Percy Taumoelau (Sr)
Carlos Lozano (Jr)
Kala Friel (So)

Left Guard
Jeremiah Tofaeono (Sr)
Marc Pouvave (Jr)
Latu Heimuli (Sr)

Hiva Lutui (R-Fr)
J.J. Dielman (R-Fr)

Right Guard
Vyncent Jones (Sr)
Junior Salt (Jr)
Siaosi Aiono (So)

Right Tackle
Jeremiah Poutasi (So)
Daniel Nielson (So)
De'ondre Wesley (Jr)

Position Status: Upgrade

Ute Zone Top Stories