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Commentary: Position-by-position, why Utah's talent on the offensive line will flourish in 2013

Published: Sunday, July 28 2013 11:10 p.m. MDT

University of Utah lineman Jeremiah Poutasi blocks during practice and the opening day of spring football in Salt Lake City Tuesday, March 19, 2013. (Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News) University of Utah lineman Jeremiah Poutasi blocks during practice and the opening day of spring football in Salt Lake City Tuesday, March 19, 2013. (Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News)

We all know that homely-looking girl from school who returns the following fall quite changed and more beautiful as ever. Consider Ashley, Hannah or Priscilla a reflection of this year’s Utah offensive line. Accounts from coach Kyle Whittingham are that the unit’s immense talent is ready to flourish in the Utes’ third season in the Pac-12.

Even after losing three senior starters, Whittingham calls the offensive line "the deepest group we've had in years." The Utes go two deep in 300-pounders whose quickness and agility seems to confute their size.

Utah had 18 healthy offensive linemen in spring camp, and seven or eight were already prepared to play at the Football Bowl Subdivision level, offensive line coach Dan Finn says. He wants that number to be at 10 for fall camp and thinks he’ll get it.

Vyncent Jones, left, and Stevie Tu'ikolovatu practice with the University of Utah football team in Salt Lake City, Thursday, April 18, 2013. (Ravell Call, Deseret News) Vyncent Jones, left, and Stevie Tu'ikolovatu practice with the University of Utah football team in Salt Lake City, Thursday, April 18, 2013. (Ravell Call, Deseret News)

Left tackle Jeremiah Poutasi, left guard Jeremiah Tofaeono, center Vyncent Jones, right guard Junior Salt and right tackle Siaosi Aiono are the current starting five, but Isaac Asiata and Andrew Albers are proving to be challengers for Toefaeono and Aiono at right tackle and left guard, respectively.

The Utes are so young and deep in this unit that Finn recruited just one offensive lineman for 2013 — Texas prep star Salesi Uhatafe (Trinity High). Kyle Christiansen, the standout from Mountain Crest High in Logan, committed to Utah in early July. Utah State and Hawaii had offered scholarships to Christiansen and BYU and Boise State had shown interest.

The following players are listed in estimation in order of how they stack with their Pac-12 counterparts on the offensive line generally. KSL.com’s Mike Grant and Robert Jackson even wrote recently that the Utes “can’t afford to lose” Poutasi and Jones. They cited the line’s “mess” throughout fall camp and injuries and lack of performances as the cause behind the unit continuing to get shifted throughout September.

Utah's Junior Salt on the opening day of the University of Utah football camp Thursday, Aug. 2, 2012, in Salt Lake City, Utah. (Tom Smart, Deseret News) Utah's Junior Salt on the opening day of the University of Utah football camp Thursday, Aug. 2, 2012, in Salt Lake City, Utah. (Tom Smart, Deseret News)

Here's a look at the Utes' top prospects along the offensive line.

Rhett Wilkinson is a project manager for UtahPolicy.com and hails the true-blooded Aggies from Utah. The co-founder of magazine Aggie BluePrint.com, he's been an intern for the Deseret News and other publications. rhett.wilkinson@usu.edu | @wilklogan

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