SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 Sports) – Going into one of the most anticipated seasons in Utah football history, the Utes are ranked #8 in the USA Today preseason coaches poll, released Monday morning.

This is the highest preseason ranking Utah has ever received. Its previous highest ranking was #14 in the 2019 preseason AP poll.

With 17 starters back from a team that won its first Pac-12 Championship and earned a trip to the Rose Bowl for the first time, the Utes were also picked to win a second straight conference championship.

“Personally, I try not to dwell too much on it,” said wide receiver Devaughn Vele. “I’m not big on trying to get too big-headed, because if you see it, you start thinking, ‘oh, we’re number eight. We’re a top-10 team.’ It gets to our head, and then you start getting complacent. Now that we’re respected, now we need people to fear us.”

“We try not to pay attention much just because we know it’s all preseason,” added tight end Brant Kuithe. “It doesn’t really matter until you get to the first game, and then after that, it rolls.”

Oregon, which fell victim to Utah in the Pac-12 Championship Game, is ranked #12, while USC comes into the season at #15.

Alabama is ranked #1, followed by Ohio State, Clemson, Georgia and Notre Dame. BYU was not ranked in the preseason top-25.

For the entire USA Today preseason coaches poll, click here.

Utah finished the 2021 season with a record of 10-4 and ranked #12 in the final Associated Press rankings.

The Utes kick off the 2022 season September 3rd at Florida.