The TribUte newsletter: Utah football has questions, but also plenty of answers

Utes have veterans all over the field, including Cam Rising at quarterback.

(Utah Athletics) Utes tight end Brant Kuithe participates in spring practice at the University of Utah on March 29, 2022. Kuithe, a Pac-12 All-Conference second team last season, opted to return to school instead of declaring for the NFL Draft.

I’ve admittedly spent a lot of time over the last couple of months writing and talking about the questions the University of Utah football team is going into what some expect to be another landmark season.

Questions at wide receiver: Is Devaughn Vele the No. 1? How much depth and experience is there behind Solomon Enis at No. 2?

Questions at linebacker: Devin Lloyd and Nephi Sewell out, Mo Diabate and Lander Barton in?

Questions at safety: There are only two spots. Who gets ‘em, Cole Bishop, Clayton Isbell, RJ Hubert?

Yes, there are questions, but there are clear answers at other positions. As a trip to Gainesville looms, let’s use this week’s newsletter to reiterate a handful of positions where there are no questions.

QB: It’s been a little while since the most important position on the field had some stability to it, but that’s what there is this fall at Utah. It’s Cam Rising, there’s no debate, and there’s been no debate for the last year.

RB: Tavion Thomas, Micah Bernard, and Chris Curry collectively represent 86 games of FBS experience. Then, add in much-hyped true freshman Jaylon Glover, who will have an immediate role.

TE: Brant Kuithe and Dalton Kincaid or both legitimate pass-catching, All-Pac-12 tight ends, both opting for one more year of school instead of the NFL Draft. Expect a lot more ‘12′ and, if the staff can figure out who the third tight end is, ‘13′ personnel this fall.

CB: Clark Phillips III, JT Broughton, and Malone Mataele at the nickel comprise a formidable group. Broughton is back from a season-ending shoulder surgery, while Phillps III and Kyle Whittingham have said in recent months that the All-Pac-12 selection in 2020 is looking like the player he was pre-injury.

K: There’s no real question here, right? Jadon Redding struggled in pockets last season, but he was mostly very good. Even if this is a camp competition with Jordan Noyes, the expectation is that Redding will be the guy.

Other things on my mind

• I don’t take a ton of stock in the AFCA Coaches Poll, but I do take some in the AP Top 25, which will be released on Monday afternoon. With Utah debuting in the Coaches Poll at No. 8, I expect its initial AP ranking will be at least eighth, but probably a spot or two higher. Preseason polls are based largely on perception. The AP Poll in particular is voted on by media members. Based on the various way-too-early polls that have been out there since January, the media’s perception of Utah is strong. My conservative guess as to where the Utes land Monday is No. 7.

• Utah will scrimmage for the first time this camp on Saturday, with likely just one more to follow a little further down the road this month. This is a good time to remind you that Whittingham has said twice since July 29 that he would like to settle QB2 soon after Saturday. There isn’t a lot of time to waste at this point, and given the opponent, Whittingham would like to start sinking reps into Ja’Quinden Jackson or Bryson Barnes as soon as possible. There hasn’t been any media availability since Wednesday and there is none on Saturday after the scrimmage, so if you want to know how this situation shakes out, you’re waiting until at least Monday, which is the next time Whittingham is scheduled to speak.

• Four-star forward Keanu Dawes on Wednesday announced his top-six schools via Twitter, with Utah and BYU both on the list. The intrigue as it pertains to the Utes and Cougars is that, while Dawes lives in Houston and attends Stratford High School, he lived in Utah until he was 9 and still makes trips back here. Furthermore, his uncle is former BYU center Derek Dawes. Utah, which does not generally offer an abundance of recruits, has offered Dawes and is expected to get an official visit from him. Craig Smith and BYU assistant-turned-Utah assistant Chris Burgess are doing the heavy lifting on Dawes’ recruitment.