Utah football: Utes loaded at safety position
With Eric Rowe and Brian Blechen returning at the safety position, safeties coach Morgan Scalley is spending much of his time evaluating Utah's backups and budding talent.
He has been busy.
The safety position is one of the deepest areas for the Utes, with returners Tyron Morris-Edwards and Quade Chappuis listed as backups and sophomores Charles Henderson, Darchon Taggart and Joseph Bryant among those competing for playing time.
The Utes also expect junior college transfer Tevin Carter to be among the backups when he joins the team in the fall.
"Right now we are just looking for some depth," Scalley said. "We have a lot of young guys, so we want to get them all some reps because they have a lot of learning to do."
Scalley expects Taggart, a 6-foot-2, 197-pound transfer from Weber State, to be a factor, and has high expectations for Chappuis.
Chappuis played in the first five games last year and finished with 23 tackles even though he was hampered by injuries.
"He is healthy now and brings a lot of knowledge to the position," Scalley said. "It's still early, but I like the group."
New kid on the block
Utah coach Kyle Whittingham admits he still can't pronounce defensive lineman Stevie Tu'ikolovatu's last name, but he is familiar enough with the player to know Tu'ikolovatu could help the Utes this year.
The 6-1, 320-pound Tu'ikolovatu, a returned missionary, is a walk-on who should add some much-needed depth to the defensive line.
He is currently listed as senior Tenny Palepoi's backup at tackle.
"He is really showing some good things and has been a pleasant surprise for us," Whittingham said. "It will be a few more weeks until we really know, but he has been doing some good things."
The Utes are scheduled to practice again on Tuesday. ... Utah's new $30 million football facility is on track to open in July. ... Blechen was slowed in the first week of practice with tendinitis.