Looking at the Utah safeties heading into fall camp

With Marcus Williams and Chase Hansen, Utah's safeties are looking great

By Andrew Gorringe

The Contenders

Casey Hughes (Rs So.)

Hughes started his career at corner back, but then switched over to strong safety this past spring. He was having a good spring, but suffered an injury that limited his ability to participate in the rest of camp. Hughes has good size and great speed, but is still learning the position. He has a high ceiling as a player, but will likely contribute just on special teams in 2016. 

Marcus Williams (Jr.)

Williams followed up a decent true freshman season in 2014, in which he started six games, with an outstanding sophomore campaign, as he was named 1st team All PAC 12, and finished the season with 66 tackles, 2 TFL’s, 10 PBU’s and 5 INT’s. Williams has become a dangerous weapon in the Ute secondary, and is looking to plant himself in the list of all-time great defensive players in Utah history. He’s proven to have the speed, smarts and physicality to be an elite free safety in college football, and should be a high draft pick in the NFL draft, whether that be in 2017 or 2018.


Chase Hansen (Rs So.) 

It seems a bit weird to be so confident in a player that has only started one game on the defensive side of the ball in college football, but that one game that Hansen put together was something special. In his lone start at strong safety against Washington, Hansen totaled 11 tackles, one PBU and a forced fumble, all before suffering a season ending knee injury on the final play of the game. Not bad for what was at the time the 3rd string QB. Hansen is a true athlete, and could be a successful college QB, but there’s no doubt his ceiling is highest on defense. Though his future may be at LB, we’ll see Hansen line up at SS in 2016, and if his lone start from 2015 is any indication, he’ll make a fine SS.


Jason Thompson (Rs Sr.)

Another converted QB, Thompson has embraced the role of special teams’ guru for the Utes, as he participates on every special teams’ unit, and was been a primary back up at both safety positions in 2015. He’s not the biggest, strongest or fastest, but he gives 100% on each rep he gets. Expect to see him leading the special teams’ units in 2016 again.


Andre Godfrey (Jr.) 

Godfrey was once a very touted recruit coming in to Utah, and after starting one game as a true freshman, did not see much action as a sophomore in 2015. Godfrey struggled with injuries and consistency in 2015, but was touted by Coach Whittingham during this past spring camp as being much improved, and starting to do things that they expected him to do when they recruited him. Godfrey has a nose for the ball and is a very physical safety, but has limitations in pass coverage. Look for him to be the first safety off the bench this season, and big special teams’ contributor.


Phillip Afia (Rs Fr.) 

Afia is a big, long athletic specimen, but is still raw when it comes to the game of football. Afia had never played football prior to high school, but had enough raw talent to warrant scholarship offers from a variety of schools. He had some good moments during spring camp this year, but isn’t ready to contribute heavily at this point in his career.


Austin Lee (Rs. So.) 

A return missionary, and local product, Lee played the first seven games of last season on special teams before suffering a season ending injury. Lee is a downhill, aggressive, physical player at the safety spot, but has troubles covering faster receivers in pass coverage. He is one of the hardest hitters in the Ute secondary, and will make a living being a special teams contributor.


Tyson Cisrow (Rs Fr.)

Cisrow is returning from a redshirt season in 2015, and was heavily recruited out of St. Thomas Aquinas High School in Florida. Cisrow was a ball hawking free safety in high school, and showed the ability to find the ball during spring camp, as he had an interception in the Red-White game. He doesn’t have typical size for the position (5’10-190lbs), but has good instincts and closing speed. With a group of veterans ahead of him, he’s unlikely to make a big splash in 2016, but has the potential to be a starter for the Utes in the future.


Projected End of Camp Depth Chart

Free Safety

Marcus Williams

Andre Godfrey


Strong Safety 

Chase Hansen

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Jason Thompson

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