Red All Over: Utah may have the country’s most-educated football roster in 2019

(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune file photo) Ute football players Tyler Huntley (1), Zack Moss (2) and Demari Simpkins (3) are going into their senior seasons of Utah football as a graduate students.

Red All Over is a weekly newsletter covering University of Utah athletics. Subscribe here.

After spring football practice ended in mid-April, Utah’s coaching staff has searched for graduate transfers and landed offensive lineman Alex Locklear from Marshall and kicker Andrew Strauch from UCLA. They will join linebacker Manny Bowen, who arrived on campus in January after graduating from Penn State.

Those three graduate students will have much in common with their senior teammates. The Utes will have nearly two dozen postgraduate football players in 2019, after athletes such as quarterback Tyler Huntley, running back Zack Moss and receiver Demari Simpkins went through commencement last week.

Utah’s athletic program is enjoying academic success. This week’s Academic Progress Report from the NCAA — accounting for eligibility, retention and graduation of scholarship athletes — ranked the Utes highly, on both a one-year snapshot (for the 2017-18) school year) and a four-year rolling average. The women’s gymnastics and volleyball programs had perfect four-year scores and the football, cross country, women’s skiing, soccer, women’s swimming and women’s tennis teams had perfect one-year scores.

Even with several players having transferred, the men’s basketball team’s four-year average ranked third in the Pac-12. “We are extremely pleased with the information in the latest APR Report because it reinforces our feelings that academic success continues to be at the forefront of our mission at the University of Utah," athletic director Mark Harlan said.

Stories of the past week

In contrast to the senior-heavy football team, Utah’s basketball team won’t any seniors in 2019-20. The roster of 13 scholarship players was finalized this week with the signing of junior college guard Alfonso Plummer, who becomes one of two juniors in the program (TRIB).

Plummer basically fills the vacancy of guard Charles Jones Jr., who’s transferring, although his roster spot was created by center Jayce Johnson’s move to Marquette as a graduate transfer (TRIB).

The Pac-12 is moving to a 20-game conference schedule in 2010-21. The 18-game schedule will remain intact for 2019-20, and the Utes know which four opponents they’ll play once each (TRIB).

Our series of stories wrapping up spring football and looking ahead to the 2019 season included this analysis of the defense. How will the Utes replace linebackers Chase Hansen and Cody Barton? They have some answers (TRIB).

Questions persist, though, about the kicking game, after the NFL draft reminded us how remarkable it was for Utah to have Mitch Wishnowsky and Matt Gay (TRIB).

This profile of Ute softball player Ally Dickman revolved around how she maximized her senior year on and off the field (TRIB). And then she enjoyed a memorable Senior Day, with a three-run triple in a win over Oregon. Dickman and outfielder Alyssa Barrera made the All-Pac-12 second team; second baseman Julia Noskin made the second team.

Ute women’s basketball player Dre’Una Edwards, the Pac-12 Freshman of the Year, has chosen Kentucky as transfer destination (TRIB).

And there’s a chance that Ute gymnastics star MyKayla Skinner will compete at the Huntsman Center next month (TRIB).

Other voices

What’s ahead for Arizona, the Pac-12′s flagship program in men’s basketball? Matt Norlander of CBS Sports assesses how a federal trial affected the reputation of coach Sean Miller. (CBS)

Pac-12 expert Jon Wilner looks at the South’s football landscape and likes Utah a lot (MERC).

Dirk Facer of the Deseret News provided the list of Utah’s student-athlete graduates (DNEWS).

Around campus

• Amid all of the graduation photos being posted lately, a shot of a junior college diploma was a good sign for the Ute football program. Offensive lineman Bamideli Olaseni posed in his cap and gown at Garden City (Kan.) Community College, presumably meaning he has completed requirements that will enable him to play for the Utes in 2019. Olaseni is expected to be a contributing player, maybe even a starter.

Snow College, meanwhile, announced that 6-foot-8 receiver Darren Jones, who had committed to Utah, will attend the school in Ephraim. Jones, who’s from Cajon High School in San Bernardino, Calif., didn’t sign with Utah as planned in February, amid academic questions, but Jones’ playing for the Badgers has to be a good sign for his future with the Utes.

• Utah’s women’s track and field team will compete this weekend in the Pac-12 meet at Arizona. The Utes’ Kolbi Sims finished fifth among 14 athletes in the heptathlon in the conference’s multi-event competition, setting a school record with 5,477 points.

• Utah’s softball team (18-33, 6-15 Pac-12) took two of three games from Oregon to conclude its home schedule and is assured of finishing above last place in the nine-team conference. The Utes can end up sixth if they win at least two of three games at Oregon State, beginning Thursday night.

• Utah’s baseball team (12-28, 4-20 Pac-12) is 10th in the 11-team conference after being swept by California in a home-field series last weekend. The Utes will visit Washington, beginning Friday, and host last-place Washington State next week. Utah also will play BYU on Tuesday night at Smith’s Ballpark.

• Utah senior golfer Kyler Dunkle will play individually in the NCAA Stanford Regional, Monday through Wednesday.