Jason Behnken, AP
New Orleans Saints free safety Marcus Williams (43) celebrates after intercepting a pass by Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston during the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Dec. 31, 2017, in Tampa, Fla.

Former Utah safety Marcus Williams had a solid rookie NFL campaign in New Orleans. He started 15 games and had 73 tackles, four interceptions and seven pass deflections for the Saints last season.

The expectations are he’ll be even better in the years to come.

CBS Sports Pete Prisco lists Williams as one of his 10 players entering their second or third NFL seasons who are poised to have a breakout seasons.

“You might remember him as being the player who had that horrible whiff on a tackle against Stefon Diggs in the NFC playoffs loss to the Vikings. While that play will hover over his career, a deeper look will show a player who can cover a lot of ground and has a chance to be one of those outstanding rangy players in the deep middle. He started 15 games as a rookie in 2017 and had four picks. In a secondary that includes Pro Bowl corner Marshon Lattimore, this could be the year that he starts to get the same acclaim. Williams is much more than a player who missed an important tackle," Prisco wrote.

Pro Football Focus also had Williams as the highest graded rookie safety in the NFL in 2017.

Whittingham getting respect

Utah coach Kyle Whittingham made The Athletic’s list of the top 25 head coaches in college football right now, coming in at No. 21.

“Before last year’s 7-6 down season, Utah finished in the top 25 for three consecutive seasons. Whittingham’s teams can be counted on to play physical up front on both sides of the ball. He also owns a crazy 11-1 bowl record. Now he just needs to get to that first Pac-12 title game,” Stewart Mandel wrote.

Whittingham is one of five Pac-12 coaches on the list, including Washington’s Chris Petersen (No. 4), Stanford’s David Shaw (No. 8), UCLA’s Chip Kelly (No. 9) and Washington State’s Mike Leach (No. 24).

Also of local interest: LDS coach Ken Niumatalolo of Navy comes in at No. 17.

Other links

Top 25 college football programs of the last 25 years (The Big Lead)

'Ball is ball': Alex Smith makes strong first impression (ESPN)

Horse Tracks: Devontae Booker embracing leadership role in Broncos' backfield (Mile High Report)

And finally …

It’s been a good week for former Utah basketball star Kyle Kuzma, who was named to the NBA All-Rookie First Team on Tuesday. Kuzma averaged 16.1 points, 6.3 rebounds and 1.8 assists while shooting 45 percent from the field for the Los Angeles Lakers in his first pro season.

Kuzma talked with reporters Tuesday about what he is doing this offseason to prepare for next season.