Utah football: 10 Utes poised for a breakout year

Published: Wednesday, July 17 2013 9:38 a.m. MDT

Utah football is at a critical juncture as the Utes try to break through into the upper echelons of the Pac-12. Make no mistake, if the Utes do break into the upper echelon of the Pac-12, they will be in the upper echelon of college football.

With the Utes facing arguably the toughest schedule in school history, everyone will have to do their part to contribute to team success, and of course, with team success come individual accolades. Fans expect their favorites to do well, but there are a number of players in the program with whom fans may not be familiar that are ready for a huge 2013.

This list breaks down 10 Utah football players poised to have a breakout season.

Dan Sorensen is the editor in chief of UteZone.com and a Deseret News contributor. He is a member of the Football Writers Association of America and Basketball Writers Association of America. He can be reached at dsorensen@utezone.com.

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EdGrady
Idaho Falls, ID

Good to see Uncle Rico finally get the recognition that has eluded him for so long.

VegasUte
Las Vegas, NV

The O line is in good hands with Poutasi and Salt. Glad we got Salt away from Florida!

Cedrick, the Vegas kid, is a beast!

Go Utes. Onward and Upward!!

VegasUte
Las Vegas, NV

BTW - great job again Dan.

Who am I sir?
Cottonwood Heights, UT

There is no doubt this years schedule is the toughest in Utah history. (Phil Steele rated it 12th toughest) But wait until next year! Idaho State replaces Weber St; Fresno State replaces Utah State; and Michigan replaces BYU. Could be one of the top 5 toughest schedules next year!

AZUTE1
Mesa, AZ

From those inside of our program, Justin Thomas is a freak-athlete and has the potential to exceed all other CBs having preceded him! He's unequivocally one to watch closely!

Broom Hockey Champ
Scottsdale, AZ

"From those inside of our program"

Typical Ute strategy. Quote a "source" (probably the waterboy) and make it sound exciting. Which lockdown CBs are you referring to Lee n' Lacy, the corners too busy looking in the backfield to realize that Hoffman, Collie, etc. blaze right past them?

965
Sandy, UT

They didn't play against Collie...

Not to mention you had 206 yards receiving last year to our 196, thats not much to brag about considering Jon Hays was playing and our passing offense was the worst its been in a decade...

StGtoSLC
SALT LAKE CITY, UT

Brunhilde, you can google "NFL Players by College", the first link will be an ESPN link, click the letter "U", and find there are currently 7 Ute DBs on rosters. I realize someone following a team with 0 wouldn't have the best frame of reference, maybe trust someone who's watched good corners every week.

raisedaute
Cottonwood Heights, UT

He's talking about current NFL corners that were Utes

Brandon Burton Minn 5yrs NFL
Robert Johnson Tenn 3yrs NFL
Mo Lee Balt 1yr NFL
Brice Mccain Hous 5yr NFL
Sean Smith KC 5yr NFL
RJ Stanford MIA 3yr NFL

How many BYU corners are in the NFL? Let me help... none

jmac77
West Valley City, UT

Good grief Hockey Champ, the comment made was simply that Justin Thomas looks like he'll be a good DB. In the past seven years, Eric Weddle, Brice McCain, Sean Smith, R.J. Stanford, Robert Johnson and Brandon Burton have made it to, and still play in, the NFL. Not a bad track record.

As for BYU receivers "blazing by" Ute DBs, congrats to those you've named for having nice games against the Utes. But don't overlook the fact that Hoffman is 0-3 against the Utes and Collie was 1-2.

It's funny to see BYU fans disparaging the Ute program for some recent struggles given the fact BYU has lost three in a row to Utah and eight of the last 11.

Magna Ute Fan
Magna, UT

Game. Set. Match. Go home Brunhilde.

Dnquixote
Las Vegas, NV

@Broom Hockey Champ

Ever heard of the saying "Look before you leap"? Collie vs. Lacy & Lee! Hilarious! Which DB's in the NFL is he referring to? Only 7. Just 7 at that specific position. Which as someone else so eloquently pointed out, is exactly 7 more than zero.

But hey, if Hoffman has a solid QB this year, we all know what kind of year he could have. I'll give you that.

sportyguy
sandy, UT

I would argue that Trevor Reilly has already broken out. He'll probably have another monster year but I think he's already shown to be an impact player.

Granite Flats Rules
Sacramento, CA

Is it August 29th yet?

I can't wait to see how each of these players has progressed over the summer. I'm a bit concerned about the lack of returning experience and the difficult schedule, but I am excited to see what the season will bring.

RedUtes08
West Jordan, UT

@raisedaute

Don't forget arguably the Best DB in the game right now, He wears the number 32 in the Chargers Blue!!

BigCougar
Bountiful, UT

@whoamisir?
"There is no doubt this years schedule is the toughest in Utah history. (Phil Steele rated it 12th toughest) But wait until next year! Idaho State replaces Weber St; Fresno State replaces Utah State; and Michigan replaces BYU. Could be one of the top 5 toughest schedules next year!"

...and that will get you a 3rd straight year at the bottom of the Pac12 and a trip to the "Couch Potato Bowl". At least this season you'll have the "BYU Bowl" to go to. Next year you won't even have that.

Down under
Salt Lake City, UT

A whole lotta hype but the results will be the same. Christmas on the couch and the solid spot at the bottom of the PAC11+u.

CO Ute
PARKER, CO

There is a LOT of potential on this team but with a couple of exceptions, these young men will need to elevate their game considerably this year to be competitive. I'm hoping the U can find a way to win 6 games and get back to a bowl at the end of the year. Next year is when the team realistically has a chance to be an upper echelon team in the conference.

Now if we can just find a way to win in Provo again, it will be six long years (at least) with bragging rights!

AZUTE1
Mesa, AZ

Going 3-0 in OOC is more likely than not and OSU is a team we've dominated for 2 straight years, including last year up there where we clearing beat ourselves, something the OSU fanbase doesn't even remotely refute. The next 6 are obviously extremely tough games but we do have a favorable home schedule working for us, mind you.

Furthermore, WAZZU in Pullman is only slightly less difficult, as UCLA/UW would readily concur....UCLA barely escaped w/a W/UW left w/an L in OT last November....The major difference we have going for us is the likelihood of significantly more production on O and a greater overall level of talent/depth, as well as greater overall team speed....Hopefully, these factors will adequately mitigate our lack of experience in certain positions.

There will be no mercy given between UCLA-UO and one could legitimately make a case for UCLA-WAZZU, instead, and I wouldn't have it any other way! It'll benefit us greatly going forward in the ensuing years, make no mistake about it, particularly w/our overall youth, across the board! I'm beyond grateful to have the gimmees long gone! Go UTES!

jdub1942
PROVO, UT

#7,
Why isn't McClellon returning Kick-offs this year? With the same scheme as last year I think we could see another 100 yrd kick-off from our return team this year.

StGtoSLC
SALT LAKE CITY, UT

jdub1942, I wouldn't be surprised to see him become the primary kick returner this year. In the spring game and scrimmages he showed some really nice open field moves and is obviously very fast. As far as the scheme, I think it just takes every player on the return team trusting and believing that they have a guy who can take it from endzone to endzone every time like they did last year. It took them a while to get going last season, but once they did everyone who dared kick it to Reggie paid for it.

AZUTE1
Mesa, AZ

Correction--

"where we clearLY beat ourselves"

08/29 can't come soon enough, agreed?

965
Sandy, UT

Eric Weedle is the highest payed safety in the NFL right now.

Shows you how accurate BYU fans are on their comments.

Sigh

rlsintx
Plano, TX

965 ... the man's name is "Weddle" and he is "paid".

Shows how accurate ... nevermind.

Christy B
Salt Lake City, Utah

"I'm beyond grateful to have the gimmees long gone!"

It's pretty depressing when the only gimme left on the schedule is Weber State, and even the Wildcats may give us a scare.

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