It's well-remembered by those who followed Harvey Langi's commitment in 2011 that he picked the Utes for the chance to play running back.
But hey, sometimes you've just got to allow space for a change of heart.
As my colleague Matt Piper reported yesterday, Langi is moving to defense when he returns from his mission in Tampa, Fla., on July 9th. Coach Kyle Whittingham confirmed what Langi's mother told The Tribune on Monday: Harvey wanted to switch roles on an impulse to follow one of the best team's best graduating defenders.
"He thinks that may be a good fit, since he's put on 20 or 30 pounds during his mission," Whittingham told The Tribune. "With the departure of Trevor Reilly, he was intrigued by that role."
Reilly's hybrid role as a pass rushing end and linebacker was a unique element in Utah's defense last year, but Langi might well be the player to take a shot at it this fall. He was considered a defensive prospect by several schools, including USC.
As a prep star at Bingham, he ran for 4,289 yards and 55 touchdowns, and he had 70 yards in his freshman year with the Utes before his mission. But he would've gone into a crowded running back corps this season, likely behind Bubba Poole, Devontae Booker and Troy McCormick as he tried to shed missionary weight. The hope is his natural size and athletic ability will work well either at end or linebacker.
The Utes have already moved running back Marcus Sanders-Williams over to linebacker with some success, and Whittingham said he saw no reason why Langi couldn't do that as well.
"I always thought there were a lot of places he could play," he said. "He's a very talented kid. When we recruited him, we did have a conversation where he wanted to play, and it was running back at that time. Now it's on defense."
The Utes aren't done with position switches yet, either. While Whittingham said the coaching staff is still evaulating if it will move more guys around, one player "for certain" they'll move is sophomore Brian Allen from receiver to safety.
A 6-foot-3, 200-pound prospect out of Texas, Allen has not yet made an official catch in his Utes career, although he did have a good one in the spring game. Whittingham said this switch, as well, came from the player in question.
"We're thin at safety and linebacker, but actually he was the one who suggested it," he said. "He's got good size, and he'll hit you. He's a good downfield blocker. He doesn't mind contact at all."
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