Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts

Utah football: After struggles last season, Utes feel good about secondary
Utah football » After rough 2013 season, Utes’ defensive backs are making strides.
First Published Apr 08 2014 08:51 pm • Last Updated Apr 09 2014 12:21 pm

Reginald Porter is a fast man. In fact, Reginald Porter runs a 4.43 40-yard dash, but with an injured hip flexor? Not so much.

"And you’ve gotta run full speed in football," he said.

At a glance

Utah cornerback depth chart

CB starter » Senior Davion Orphey (6’0, 185) OR senior Eric Rowe (6’1, 201) CB starter » Sophomore Reginald Porter (5’11, 181); backup: sophomore Mo Talley (6’0, 184) Nickelback starter » Sophomore Justin Thomas (5’8, 178); backup: senior Wykie Freeman (5’11, 174)

Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

Hundredths of a second can determine whether a receiver is blanketed or wide open, and Porter and his secondary teammates were sometimes hundredths of a second and thus miles behind Pac-12 burners in 2013. Now a healthy sophomore, Porter is part of the reason that cornerback is beginning to feel like one of Utah’s strengths.

Last year the Utes ranked No. 109 in the nation in passing yards allowed (267.3 per game) and dead last in interceptions (three). Those with picks — Trevor Reilly, Michael Walker and Keith McGill — are gone. So how could it be a different story just 10 practices into spring?

Porter’s emergence is part of it. Relishing opportunities to smother wideouts like senior Dres Anderson ("He’s fast, man, and he’s going to the NFL"), Porter has recorded at least two interceptions this spring and is fulfilling the promise he showed as an all state-quarterback and cornerback at Amite High School in Louisiana.

"We’ve always known that he had the speed and the talent to play corner for us," said defensive coordinator Kalani Sitake. "In fact, he did some really good things for us in the fall last year, but he was a young freshman. Now he’s a mature sophomore and he’s playing like it."

Porter’s fellow starters include physical senior Davion Orphey (who played in 11 games last season and recorded 33 tackles with five passes defended) and sophomore nickelback Justin Thomas (a 5-foot-8 wrecking ball who most recently demolished redshirt freshman running back Troy McCormick in the team’s first scrimmage Friday).

And already better than any of them, just maybe, is senior safety Eric Rowe.

Rowe has spent most of the spring working out with coach Sharrieff Shah and the corners, and if incoming senior transfer Tevin Carter, junior Charles Henderson, or a true freshman is able to lock down his old free safety spot, coaches believe Rowe has the potential to be an all-conference cornerback right out of the gates.

"He’s got a lot of ability," said head coach Kyle Whittingham. "He’s got great length. He’s 6-1-plus, big wingspan — along the same lines as some of the corners we’ve had here that have been very successful."

story continues below
story continues below

Thus, the cause for optimism. Yes, the Utes face future NFL quarterbacks and receivers almost every week in the Pac-12, and, yes, more than ever they are spreading out three, four and five wide receivers. But the team feels secure enough at cornerback that they’ve switched sophomore Hipolito Corporan to safety for the remainder of spring practice.

"For right now, it’s a great start," Sitake said. "There have been times that we were worried about having enough guys. We have the right bodies and we have the right players right now."


Twitter: @matthew_piper

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment

About Reader Comments

Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
Staying Connected
Contests and Promotions
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Access your e-Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.