Utes grab a graduate transfer from Marshall to bolster their offensive line

Chris Detrick | The Salt Lake Tribune file photo Utah Utes head coach Kyle Whittingham and Utah line coach Jim Harding watch during the game at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum Saturday October 24, 2015.

As Utah’s spring football practice concluded in mid-April, coach Kyle Whittingham pointed to a lack of depth on the offensive line as one of his team’s remaining issues. The Utes have made a move to address that need, landing Alex Locklear as a graduate transfer from Conference USA’s Marshall University.

Locklear entered the NCAA transfer portal with one year of eligibility remaining and chose Utah over Tennessee, where his brother plays, he announced Monday. Locklear plans to arrive on campus in June.

Whittingham continually cited the coaching staff’s need to find eight or nine dependable linemen, and Locklear will help provide depth. The 6-foot-5, 340-pound lineman played in 35 games for Marshall over three seasons, but started only two games and was not guaranteed a starting job in 2019, according to The Herald-Dispatch of Huntington, W.Va. The newspaper credited Locklear with a strong performance in last December’s 38-20 win over South Florida in the Gasparilla Bowl, though, as the Thundering Herd rushed for 282 yards and five touchdowns.

Utah is replacing three starters on the offensive line, including tackle Jackson Barton, a seventh-round pick of the Indianapolis Colts. Line coach Jim Harding has had six players drafted in his five years at Utah.

Based on practice observations, Utah’s apparent first-team linemen coming out the spring are tackles Darrin Paulo and Nick Ford, center Orlando Umana and guards Braeden Daniels and Paul Toala. The guards may be the least solidified starters. One variable is how junior college transfer Bamideli Olaseni will fit in; he’s scheduled to arrive this summer after completing academic requirements.