UteSportsReport.com's Top 50 for '15: #10-#1

Who are the top 50 players returning for the Utes' 2015 season? We take a look at #10 - #1

You've made it. There's only 1 day left till the Utes take the practice field for the beginning of fall camp, and that signifies the end of a very long and very boring football-less summer. To help you celebrate, UteSportsReport.com is unveiling its Top 10 returning players for the Ute football team in 2015, as part of its Top 50 players for 2015. Here are the Top 10:

#10: Wide Receiver - Kenneth Scott




Scott's return to the playing field in 2014 was highly anticipated by Ute fans, as the 6'3-205lb receiver was returning from an ankle injury that ended his 2013 season in just the first game. Scott got off to hot start in 2014, totaling 155 yards and 3 TD's in the first 3 games of the year, but saw his production drop off when the overall passing efficiency of the offense came to a screeching halt. He finished the season with 48 catches for 506 yards at 4 TD's, leading the team in all those categories. Because of the inefficiency in the passing game, Scott was often underutilized most the season, as his route structure basically consisted of only a 10 yard out and 5 yard hitch. Ute fans, and Scott himself, know that he can be a deep threat for the offense, as he was in 2012, and the change in offensive coordinators has many hopeful that we'll see the return of Kenneth Scott running deep routes down the field. He has good speed, good strength and probably the best ball skills on the team. Anytime a jump ball is thrown his way, you can be sure #2 is coming down with it.

#9: Safety - Tevin Carter




Another highly anticipated player in 2014 was safety Tevin Carter, as he was originally supposed to be a part of the 2013 team, but failed to qualify academically. After getting his grades in order, Carter started the season at free safety for the Utes and had a huge impact in just a small amount of time. Before having his season cut short due to injury, Carter started in 4 games and totaled 16 tackles, 3.5 TFL's, 1 PBU and 2 INT's, one of which was returned for a touchdown. Now healthy, Carter has slid over to the strong safety spot, which most consider his more natural position, and will be a force for the Ute secondary. At 6'1-215lbs, Carter is built like a linebacker but runs like some of the best defensive backs in the country. He has a nose for the ball and also packs a mean punch on his tackles. As long as he stays healthy, he should be the next Utah defensive back to make it in to the NFL.

#8: Defensive Tackle - Lowell Lotulelei




The little brother of Ute legend Star Lotulelei, Lowell started his Ute career in 2014 after serving part of an LDS mission in 2013. Lotulelei started out the year coming off the bench as part of the 5 or 6 player deep defensive tackle rotation, but finally overtook some upper class men, and started the last 9 games of the season. Not only does he share the same last name of a Ute legend, he shares a nearly identical playing style and personality as his older brother. Quiet and unassuming off the field, Lowell is powerful, quick and tenacious as a gap plugging defensive tackle. His "get off" on the line of scrimmage is tremendous and he does a great job of combining leverage and strength to overpower offensive linemen. Lotulelei finished the season with 21 tackles, 4.5 TFL's and 4 sacks, with his most iconic ones being back to back sacks on the eventual Heisman trophy winner Marcus Mariota. Even though he's only a sophomore, a strong season could catapult Lotulelei to the NFL, as he is draft eligible in 2016.

#7: Kicker - Andy Phillips




In the history of field goal kicking at Utah one man stands at the top in Louie Sakoda, but he has a former national ski team member hot on his tail, as Andy Phillips is quickly becoming the most successful kicker in Utah Football history. With two years of eligibility remaining, Phillips is on track to break all of Sakoda's field goal kicking records, including a couple that will likely be broken in 2014 (FG's Made & FG's Attempted). In his second season ever playing football, Andy Phillips took a step back from his 2013 season in terms of field goals made percentage, as he hit 23 of his 28 attempted kicks, which would be a highlight season for most kickers across the country. You can hardly consider that a "down" year for a kicker, but you can bet Phillips is looking to improve on that number in 2015. With a range that goes beyond 55 yards, Phillips is a true weapon for the Utes and can be the difference between a win and a loss, as the Utes found out last year in both a good (UCLA) and bad (ASU) way. Look for Phillips to put his stamp on the record books in 2015, and finish his Ute career in 2016 as the best kicker in Utah history.

#6: Center - Siaosi Aiono




Aiono slid inside to the center position for the 2014 season, as he spent 2013 as a part time starter at right tackle. Aiono is much better suited on the inside of the offensive line, and showed last season that he is the vocal leader that every offensive line needs. Aiono is smart, strong and technically sound, which is exactly what you want in a center. He had no problems making the offensive line audibles last season, and another year of experience will only make him that much better. As a potential team captain in 2015, Aiono is an All PAC 12 honors candidate as well as a candidate to get drafted in to the NFL in 2016.

#5: Defensive End - Hunter Dimick




Dimick had a break out season in 2014, as the redshirt junior posted career best number during his first season as a full time starter. Dimick finished the year with 52 tackles, 10 sack, 14.5 TFL's, 2 PBU's and a forced fumble. Not bad for a former 2 star recruit out of podunk Syracuse, Utah. At 6'3-270lbs, Dimick won't "wow" you with his size or athleticism, but what will "wow" you is his brute strength, violent hands and nearly flawless technique. Dimick played opposite of Nate Orchard in 2014, who had one of the best seasons as a defensive end in Utah history, and often times looked like the better player. His motor never stops and he can beat an offensive tackle with quickness and with power. A 10 sack season is a highlight season for nearly any defensive end in the country, but look for Dimick to try and increase that total in 2015, though having more of the spotlight focused on him may make that harder.

#4: Linebacker - Gionni Paul




The Miami transfer didn't make his Ute debut till the 3rd game of the season in 2014, after breaking his foot in spring camp, but Gionni Paul made sure it was one hell of a debut. He totaled 14 tackles and 1 interception in his first game as Ute, and finished the year with 61 tackles, 3 TFL's, 4 interceptions, 1 sack and 1 fumble recovery. Oh, he also did that in just 8 games, as the nagging foot injury forced him to cut the 2014 season short. Paul quickly became the emotional leader for the defense last season, and is a big time candidate to be voted a team captain in 2015. His instincts and tenacity make him a terror on the field, and he promises that his foot is 100% healthy and is hungry to show just what kind of a player he is this season.

#3: Linebacker - Jared Norris




If you're looking for a player that surprised the most amount of fans in 2014, that player may just be Jared Norris. Heading in to the season, fans knew that Norris was a good linebacker and somebody that could be relied upon, but he took that to the next level and showed that he was ready to be recognized as one of the elite linebackers in college football. He did just that. Norris finished the season with 116 tackles, 13 TFL's, 4 sacks and 1 PBU. Norris played through multiple injuries during the season, but started all 13 games despite that. The biggest thing that Norris seemed to improve from 2013 to 2014 was his speed, and he displayed that multiple times during the season. Norris is everything you could want in a linebacker as there are no weaknesses in his game. At the very least, he should be a 2nd Team ALL PAC 12 player in 2015, though 1st team honors are more likely. He should also be a near lock to be drafted next spring.

#2: Punter - Tom Hackett




It's crazy to think that a punter can be considered a Top 2 player on any college football team, but in the case of Tom Hackett, it's reality, and he's probably closer to being #1 than he is to being #3. Hackett's ability to pinpoint his punts is unmatched across the country, and he also has one of the strongest legs in the country. The 2014 Ray Guy Award winner is the most lethal punter in the country, and almost single handedly kept Utah in numerous games last year, especially against Stanford, where Utah ended up winning in double overtime. The "bacon kicking" Aussie will go down as the best punter in Utah history after what is sure to be a very thrilling senior season.

#1: Running Back - Devontae Booker




What is left to say about Devontae Booker that hasn't already been said. He was the workhorse of the 2014 season, finishing with 1,512 rushing yards, 306 receiving yards and 12 TD's, and was essentially the heart and soul of the Utah offense. After taking over as the full time starter in game 4, Booker revamped a struggling Utah offense and gave them an identity for the rest of the year. He's excellent between the tackles, nearly impossible to bring down on the first tackle, and oh yeah, he may just have the best hands on the team, as he had numerous highlight reel catches last season. If you were to point out a flaw in Booker's game currently, it would be that he doesn't have elite top end speed, but to be honest, that's being pretty nit-picky. Booker's junior season was historic, and had it not been for a mathematical error by the coaching staff during the Las Vegas Bowl, he'd hold the single season rushing record. He wound up being 7 yards short of that record, but will likely break that record as a senior. Booker has his sights set on bigger goals though, as he has routinely said his goal is to rush for 2,000 yards and win the Heisman trophy. The odds may be stacked against him, as a running back hasn't won the award since 2009, but if any running back in the country can do it, it's Booker.


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