University of Utah linebacker Lander Barton was named Pac-12 Defensive Freshman of the Year on Tuesday afternoon as the Utes received 12 All-Pac-12 selections, the league office announced.
Barton is the second straight Ute to be named Defensive Freshman of the Year after defensive tackle Junior Tafuna won the award in 2021. Through 13 games, Barton, a former standout at Brighton High School, has 42 tackles, five tackles for a loss, 3.5 sacks, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery.
Barton’s honor coincides with tight end Dalton Kincaid, offensive lineman Braeden Daniels and Sataoa Laumea and Clark Phillips III all receiving All-Pac-12 first-team nods. Phillips III is also a finalist for the Jim Thorpe Award, given annually to the nation’s top defensive back. The winner of the Thorpe Award will be announced on Thursday evening.
Tafuna and linebacker Karene Reid each received second-team selections, while safeties Cole Bishop and R.J. Hubert, defensive lineman Jonah Elliss, wide receiver Devaughn Vele, and quarterback Cam Rising all received honorable mention nods.
Rising, last season’s All-Pac-12 first-team quarterback, was part of a deep group of quarterbacks, which saw USC sophomore and Heisman Trophy favorite Caleb Williams named first team, and Washington’s Michael Penix Jr. second team. Penix Jr. announced earlier this week that he will return to Seattle in 2023 as a sixth-year senior.
Spencer Fano commits
Spencer Fano, a four-star offensive tackle from Timpview High School, committed to Utah on Tuesday evening, choosing the Utes over a final list if suitors that included Michigan, Oregon, and Clemson.
Fano conducted a home visit with Utah Monday night, which included head coach Kyle Whittingham, offensive line coach Jim Harding and defensive coordinator Morgan Scalley. Harding has been the primary recruiter for Fano.
Fano’s commitment comes on the same day as his older brother, Logan, a freshman edge rusher for BYU, announced he would enter the NCAA Transfer Portal.
Spencer Fano has not played this season after suffering a torn ACL late in spring practice. With Logan committed to Utah, the Utes are now expected to pursue his older brother.
Ethan Calvert hits NCAA Transfer Portal
Calvert, a former four-star recruit at linebacker and the third-highest rated recruit in program history, entered his name into the NCAA Transfer Portal on Tuesday, a source with access to the national database confirmed to The Salt Lake Tribune.
To much fanfare, Calvert made his debut for the Utes in 2021 during a season-opening win over Weber State, but on the first play of his career, he tore his ACL and was lost for the season. He was healthy with no restrictions entering this season, but found only sparse playing time at linebacker behind Mohamoud Diabate, Karene Reid, and Lander Barton.
Calvert played in 10 games this season, but mostly on special teams. His decision to hit the transfer portal comes just days after Utah won the Pac-12 championship game and now prepares to face Penn State in the Rose Bowl on Jan. 2.
This has been expected to be a chaotic week in terms of the transfer portal after the NCAA in August approved radical changes to its transfer policies. Transfer windows were adopted, meaning players now have only specific times they can enter the portal. The first suck window opened Monday and closes Jan. 18. The next window is from May 1-15, after spring practices have ended, for a total of 60 calendar days.
Players do not have to make commitments to new schools within these windows, but they have to put their names in during these windows in order to be recruitable.
This story will be updated.