Editor's note: This is part one of a six-part series by Brandon Gurney previewing the Utah Utes football team for spring practice. In this piece, Gurney focuses on the offensive backfield.
SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah football program begins its spring practice session next week with some new faces and intriguing story lines. Most of the intrigue surrounds the changes coming to the Ute offense under new offensive coordinator Dennis Erickson along with the continued development of quarterback Travis Wilson.
Wilson had his share of ups and downs as a true freshman thrust into the starting role midseason, but showed enough promise to indicate great play in his future. The starting quarterback position will be Wilson’s to lose and he will likely see the majority of reps with the first team this spring as a result.
Adam Schultz showed good promise as a freshman and presents a strong-armed option behind Wilson and will likely see second reps this spring. Brandon Cox is a pure athlete who could play a number of positions, but will look to make his mark at the quarterback position after graduating early from high school to enroll at Utah in January.
Dan Sorensen is the managing editor of utezone.com and knows the ins and outs of the program as well as anyone. According to Sorensen, Utah has a lot of young and exciting potential at quarterback that should mesh well with what Erickson could bring to the offensive system.
“The job is Travis Wilson’s to lose and there are some other options, but it’s really going to be between three players this spring,” Sorensen said. “I really like Schultz and what he’s shown so far, and it will be interesting to see what Brandon Cox can do, but the job is Travis Wilson’s to lose and coaches are looking for him to really establish himself this spring.”
At running back, it’s all about replacing John White, who played a huge role for Utah’s offense the last two seasons.
“John White was essentially Utah’s offense last year and he’s going to be very tough to replace,” Sorensen said. “Kelvin York came on strong last year, and he’ll likely be the guy this spring with a lot of new faces arriving in fall.”
York (5-11, 223) provides a physical running style with surprising speed for someone of his stature. Others vying for playing time this spring will be Jarrell Oliver (5-8, 210), James Poole (6-0, 187) and Lucky Radley (5-8, 183) among others.
“Utah needs better speed at running back to run Erickson’s offense and a lot of speed will be coming this fall when guys like Tre’Vian Young, Marcus Williams, Troy McCormick and others arrive. Spring is important for guys like Radley and Oliver and even York to establish themselves as guys who can play as the primary running backs in the offense,” Sorensen said.
“Overall I like the talent the team has and the talent coming in at running back and I certainly like the potential the team has at quarterback. It’s going to be mostly a single-back offense with Erickson’s offense and he’s going to want some guys with good speed back there, so it should be a great competition for playing time this spring and into the fall.”
Editor's note: This was part one of a six-part series by Brandon Gurney previewing the Utah Utes football team for spring practice. In part two, Gurney will take a look at the offensive line.
Email: email@example.com; Twitter: @BrandonCGurney
Copyright 2015, Deseret News Publishing Company