For the first time in 3 years, the safety position is going to be absent of a familiar face to Ute fans. With senior Brian Blechen making the switch to linebacker, where he is best suited, the Utah defense will need to find a suitable replacement at the strong safety position. Luckily for the Utes, they have atleast three players that can play both the strong safety and free safety position, allowing them to be flexible with the personel that they play this year.
JR-Eric Rowe: After a promising freshman year in 2011, in which he was named a freshman All American, Rowe took a step back in 2012 and really didn't provide the big plays that Ute fans had grown accustomed to from previous safeties like Brian Blechen, Robert Johnson and Eric Weddle. Although Rowe didn't make any big plays, and only had one interception, he was still a vital part of the defense and was one of the sole reasons that Utah kept the game against Arizona last year close, as he consistently made one on one tackles 15-20 yards downfield. Rowe still has a ton of untapped potential, but must become a better "centerfielder" in order to establish himself as one of the best safeties in the Pac 12.
JR-Tyron Morris-Edwards: If there is a bigger surprise player than Morris-Edwards then please point him out, because I don't think anybody expected Morris-Edwards to perform the way he did last year, except for maybe Tyron himself. The Alta High School product walked on the Utah team in 2010 as a WR, and earned a scholarship after his redshirt freshman year in which he switched to safety, and mostly contributed on special teams. With SS Brian Blechen being suspended for the first 3 games of last year, Morris Edwards was able to see plenty of action in the first 2 games, and notched his first career start against BYU in place of an injured Eric Rowe. Morris Edwards performed well enough in spot action the rest of the year, and entered the spring as the starter at SS, a spot he keeps entering Fall camp. With Blechen being moved to LB, and Tevin Carter's arrival to Utah being questionable, Morris Edwards looks to continue his upward trend in 2013
JR-Tevin Carter: Carter comes to Utah from Los Angeles Southwest College, where he excelled as playmaker at safety, as well as a kick off returner. Carter orginally was four star receiver coming out of high school and had offers from the likes of Oregon, USC, Washington and most other Pac 12 teams. After commiting to play at Cal, and redshirting his freshman year, Carter quit the team at Cal, and it was thought that he no longer had the desire to play the game. After spending two years at LASC, and moving from wide receiver to safety, Carter commited to Utah over Oregon State. The coaches have high expectations for the JUCO transfer, as he was listed on the two deep depth chart before he even stepped on campus. As of right now, Carter has not been cleared to join the team because of academic reasons, and it's unclear if he's even going to join the team, which would be a huge blow to the depth at safety as he has long been expected to contribute immediately. If Carter is able to shore up his academics and join the team, look for him to be a big part of the Utah secondary this Fall.
SR-Quade Chappuis: In his final season as a Ute, Chappuis will be looking to be a more consistent part of the Utah secondary, as he is the most experienced safety, outside of Eric Rowe. Chappuis was given the opportunity for a lot of playing time last year early on in the season with the suspension of Brian Blechen, but he failed to make a true impact on the defense as he, along with the rest of the defense, was exposed by fast paced offenses like ASU, UCLA and Arizona. Like other members of the defense, Chappuis has to improve his ability to cover slot receivers and tight ends in order to see more playing time. With his experience, the coaches may opt to go with him as the starter if other members of the secondary don't play well enough in the Fall, but if Chappuis want's to make a bigger impact, he must improve his coverage abilities.
SO-Charles Henderson: The Louisiana native started his career at Utah as wide receiver, but when coaches realized that they needed an upgrade in speed and athleticism at safety, they moved Henderson from the log jam at receiver over to a place he'll be able to contribute on a more regular basis. With Henderson being moved to safety in the middle of the season, he didn't see any action in 2012 at the position, but he performed well enough in the Spring to be listed as the back up at both strong and free safety. Henderson has the speed and athleticism to cover receivers in the fast paced offenses that are displayed in the Pac 12, but it remains to be seen if he'll be able to bring the physicality that is required at the safety position.
SO-Joseph Bryant: Bryant has not been able to make his impact on the secondary yet, as he has struggled with injuries since he redshirted in 2011 as a true freshman. Bryant is a big, big body as he's listed at 6'3-208 pounds, but the injuries limited his participation last year, as well as this year in Spring ball. Bryant saw action in 4 games last year, mostly on special teams, and finished the season with two total tackles. Still only a sophomore, Bryant has time to make his mark at Utah, but he must get healthy and make a good showing in Fall camp if he wants to have some sort of impact this year. Look for Bryant to be primarily a special teams player this year, but keep an eye on him as a potential starter in the years to come.
Pre-Fall Camp Depth Chart:
FS-Eric Rowe or Tevin Carter; Charles Henderson
SS-Tyron Morris-Edwards; Charles Henderson
Projected Post-Fall Depth Chart:
FS-Eric Rowe; Tevin Carter
SS-Tyron Morris-Edwards or Tevin Carter (if he shows up); Charles Henderson
Fall Camp Preview: Safeties
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