Utah Utes: Preseason Position Breakdown – The Trenches

Kylie Fitts after practice

Attempting to Predict the Depth Chart

It’s that wonderful time of year when all the so-called experts pull out their magic eight balls and attempt to tell everyone the name of the starter at each position. I can claim to have a pretty good track record if you go back and read my previous prognostications, but they don’t matter. If last year proved anything, it should be that the next three names on the list matter as much or more than the one that tops it to start week one.

The Utes started what felt like 15 different Centers and Running Backs lat year. Yes, I realize that was a gross exaggeration, that’s why I said “felt”. There were injuries to the starting WR’s, several starting RB’s, a couple TE’s as well as a few O-Linemen. That’s just on offense. On the other side of the ball we replaced a DE two weeks in, rotated a couple LB’s and a few games missed by members of the secondary.

I’m going to give my guesses as to whom will earn the lofty position atop the chart, but then I’m going to give you the profiles of a few guys that will probably get some snaps as the season goes on. Hopefully due to blowouts and rotation more than the reasons from last season.

Defensive Line

Defensive Takle:

This is perhaps the least surprising set of position battles in the state. Lowell Lotulelei is a perennial threat to be not only one of the best in the PAC 12, but one of the best in the Nation. Filipo Mokofisi is one of the most versatile defenders on the team, that can be a starter on the interior or at DE.

Starters

Lowell Lotulelei: https://www.utahutes.com/roster.aspx?rp_id=4783

Filipo Mokofisi: https://www.utahutes.com/roster.aspx?rp_id=4786

The Rest of the Pack

Leki Fotu: https://www.utahutes.com/roster.aspx?rp_id=4757

Alani Havili-Katoa: https://www.utahutes.com/roster.aspx?rp_id=4768

John Penisini: https://www.utahutes.com/roster.aspx?rp_id=4874

Hauati Pututau: https://www.utahutes.com/roster.aspx?rp_id=4792

Pita Tonga: https://www.utahutes.com/roster.aspx?rp_id=4806

As per usual The Utes have an embarrassment of riches for the interior defensive linemen. There are more guys in the cupboard, but there are only so many snaps to go around.

Defensive End:

After losing the all time sack leader of the U to graduation (as well as the NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars), we have production to make up. A lot of guys got experience on the outside in an attempt to cover the early season loss of Kylie Fitts. Fitts is back and healthy (although he admits he’s still getting his lungs back) and firmly entrenched at one of the two starting End spots. All signs are pointing to Bradlee Anae to occupy the other side.

Starters

Kylie Fitts: https://www.utahutes.com/roster.aspx?rp_id=4755

Bradlee Anae: https://www.utahutes.com/roster.aspx?rp_id=4737

The Rest of the Pack

Caleb Repp: https://www.utahutes.com/roster.aspx?rp_id=4793

Maxs Tupai: https://www.utahutes.com/roster.aspx?rp_id=4807

Davir Hamilton: https://www.utahutes.com/roster.aspx?rp_id=4763

Chris Hart: https://www.utahutes.com/roster.aspx?rp_id=4767

Offensive Line

I’m going to go about this one a little different. I have a pretty good idea on three of the five positions. I’m going to give you who I think will be the starters and then a guess at the other five to six that will have a chance to travel (the Utes like to have 8-10 offensive linemen travel/dress for games).

Starters

The positions I think I know are arguably the most important. The Tackles and Center were pretty heavily leaned upon last year. The big questions lie in the remaining gaps. With one guard moving to the starting RT spot and the other playing for the Miami Dolphins there’s lot’s of talent, but not an overwhelming amount of D1 snaps to go around. So for those, I’m going to go with what I’ve seen at practice and asked about in the interviews.

As far as the interviews go. I asked Jackson Barton who has been playing well on by his side and without hesitation he brought up Darrin Paulo. As for the right side, I’m going with what I’ve seen.

LT: Jackson Barton: https://www.utahutes.com/roster.aspx?rp_id=4740

LG: Darrin Paulo: https://www.utahutes.com/roster.aspx?rp_id=4790

C: Lo Falemaka: https://www.utahutes.com/roster.aspx?rp_id=4753

RG: Orlando Umana: https://www.utahutes.com/roster.aspx?rp_id=4818

RT: Salesi Uhatafe: https://www.utahutes.com/roster.aspx?rp_id=4808

As for the backups/travel rotation.

Jordan Agasiva: https://www.utahutes.com/roster.aspx?rp_id=4863

Johnny Capra: https://www.utahutes.com/roster.aspx?rp_id=4745

Kevin Dixon: https://www.utahutes.com/roster.aspx?rp_id=4749

Kyle Lanterman: https://www.utahutes.com/roster.aspx?rp_id=4781

Paul Toala: https://www.utahutes.com/roster.aspx?rp_id=4805

Scott Peck: https://www.utahutes.com/roster.aspx?rp_id=4791

There has been a huge number of positives that I’ve seen from a group that I was very nervous about to start the year. Richardson is way bigger than advertised, and still very athletic. Ford moved from the Defensive side of the ball and has all the tools to be an amazing Tackle, and if it came down to worst case scenario the Utes have an abundance of raw talent on both sides of the ball.

 

 

About the author

David Elmer