LOS ANGELES (ABC4 Sports) – After a disappointing shortened season in 2020, the Utes football team had reloaded and ready to make a run at its first Pac-12 title.
The Utes were picked to finish second in the Pac-12 South Division by the media on Tuesday behind USC, and head coach Kyle Whittingham, about to begin his 17th season at the helm, loves the talent on his team this year.
“I feel pretty good about where we’re at as a team,” Whittingham said. “Good depth, maybe the most depth since we’ve been in the Pac-12, and that’s a pretty bold statement. We feel like we’ve done a really good job recruiting, and right now each position group is solid.”
Whittingham tapped into the NCAA transfer portal like never before, getting seven new players including possibly it’s new starting quarterback in Baylor’s Charlie Brewer.
“The transfer portal is one of those things that’s changed college football to a certain extent,” Whittingham said. “I liken it to high school players are your draft and the transfer portal is your free agents.”
Brewer will compete with Cam Rising for the starting job when training camp opens August 4th.
Transfers Chris Curry and T.J. Pledger will try to help fill the void at running back left by the tragic loss of Ty Jordan, who died in an accidental shooting on Christmas Day. The Utes have established a scholarship in Jordan’s name and are dedicating the season to him.
“It will go to the player that best exemplifies Ty and what he was all about,” Whittingham said. “His work ethic, his passion for the game, so that’s something we will be honoring Ty with.”
“It’s what he stands for now that stays with us,” added wide receiver Britain Covey. “I think it’s what he represents to us. We really are a family. I don’t care how different we are, we come together and support each other.”
The defense returns nine starters, and should be dominant led by linebacker Devin Lloyd, who put the NFL on hold to finish his college career right.
“I just felt like I owed the university a lot,” Lloyd said. “There were a lot of reasons why I came back, but they were my only Power-5 offer. They saw something in me that no other team in the country saw, and I felt like I just didn’t want to leave the university after a five-game season.”
With fans allowed back, Whittingham says the newly renovated Rice-Eccles Stadium, which was increased by roughly five thousand seats, should provide a big advantage on game days.
“I’m hoping and praying for a normal season,” Whittingham said. “It’s going to be great to get fans back in the stands. It’s going to be a huge benefit not only on game day, but for recruiting. It’s a phenomenal facility, and it really finishes off what was an outstanding stadium is now going to be that much more of a home field advantage.”
The Utes open the 2020 season September 2nd at home against Weber State.