The bad news for the University of Utah is that once mandatory summer activities and training camp begin, coaches still need to figure out who the starting quarterback will be.
The good news is, whether it’s South Carolina graduate transfer Jake Bentley or redshirt sophomore Cameron Rising, that signal caller is going to have more than a fair amount of pass-catching options. Entering the 2020 season, the Utes return seven players who caught at least 10 passes last season.
Chief among them is junior tight end Brant Kuithe, whose emergence in the second half of the season was a revelation. His 34 catches for 602 yards and 6 touchdowns as a sophomore mark him as one of, if not the top returning tight end in the Pac-12. Utah possesses a second starting-caliber tight end thanks to junior Cole Fotheringham (16 catches, 156 yards, 1 TD).
The biggest news in the receiving corps is the return of redshirt junior Britain Covey, an All-Pac-12 return specialist and the team’s leading receiver in 2015 and 2018. Covey played four games in 2019 before taking a redshirt. Covey tore his right ACL in the 2018 Pac-12 championship game, but powered through rehabilitation in an effort to be a part of the 2019. In hindsight, the rehabilitation process went too fast.
“Covey’s back, he’s as quick and fast as ever,” Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham said March 5 following Utah’s third, and ultimately-final spring practice. “Playing without the brace and we’re looking for him to have a big year.
“He’s one of the best punt returners and kickoff returners in the country, and that just gives us another weapon in that regard. And we missed him last year. I mean, the guys that filled in did a nice job, but he’s a special returner.”
Covey in the slot and Kuithe at tight end are both security blankets for a new quarterback. On the outside, offensive coordinator Andy Ludwig has options for what could be one of the more intriguing training camp battles, assuming training camp opens on time.
Redshirt junior Bryan Thompson broke out last season, catching 18 passes for 461 yards and 3 scores. Thompson’s 25.6 yards per reception would have led the nation if he had enough receptions to qualify.
Senior Samson Nacua (18 catches, 330 yards, 4 TDs) should figure into the mix, while Solomon Enis (14 catches, 158 yards) appears to be the biggest X-factor inside receivers coach Guy Holliday’s position room.
Enis, a true junior and the son of former Penn State consensus All-American running back Curtis Enis, was the highest-rated wide receiver prospect in Utah history when he committed as a member of the class of 2018.
In 18 career games, Enis has 27 catches for 337 yards and a touchdown, but the depth chart in front of him has now cleared for him to potentially take a significant step forward this fall.