Utah football’s Brant Kuithe mulling future after season-ending injury

Kuithe has one season of eligibility remaining after tearing his ACL in Utah’s fourth game this season

(Hunter Dyke | Utah Athletics) Utah tight end Brant Kuithe rests during the first day of Utah Utes football camp in Salt Lake City on Aug. 03, 2022.

Pasadena, Calif. • When Brant Kuithe tore his right ACL on Sept. 25 at Arizona State, the assumption was the three-time All-Pac-12 tight end’s college career was over.

After all, he is a fifth-year senior who has already flirted with leaving for the NFL twice, but the fact that Kuithe only played four games this season and has never used a redshirt in his career left the door open for a return in 2023.

Kuithe is with the Utes this week at the Rose Bowl, and on Saturday morning at media day, the door for his return remained open.

“I still have a little bit of time, no rush right now,” Kuithe said with a smile.

Pressed on whether or not he has made a decision and just isn’t ready to announce it publicly, the Katy, Texas, native indicated that was indeed the case.

Kuithe, Cam Rising, Devaughn Vele, Micah Bernard, and Thomas Yassmin are among the key Utes whose decisions on their respective futures will help shape what the 2023 season could look like. If, at a minimum, Rising and Kuithe return, the Utes would likely be looked upon as a top-15 team to open the season and among the favorites to win the Pac-12 for a third consecutive season.

College underclassmen have until Jan. 16 to file declaration papers with the NFL seeking special eligibility for the draft, which is scheduled for April 27-29.

Kuithe is no different than some of his teammates in the same boat in that the ability to now make money of his name, image, and likeness is an emerging factor in whether he stays or goes.

“It plays a good-size role, but it’s not everything,” Kuithe said. “There are a lot of things I have to weigh. Money does help, but money isn’t everything; it comes and goes. The experience of all this stuff, it lasts a lifetime, so that’s the biggest thing.

“I think the biggest thing in making a decision like this is making it your own. Don’t base it on other people’s because it’s your life, you can’t base it on other people’s futures and what they want to do with their life. Everyone has different things going on, so you put some consideration on what other guys are doing, but then make the decision based on your future and what you need in your life.”

Whenever Kuithe ultimately announces his decision, it will be the culmination of a season that turned out to be trying, after beginning with so much anticipation.

On the final play of the first quarter of a 34-13 win over the Sun Devils, Kuithe came up gimpy after hauling in his second catch of the night, an 11-yard strike from Rising down to the Utah 28-yard line. He was helped to the injury tent, where he spent 20 minutes. He peeked his head out of the tent with 5:14 to play in the first half without his shoulder pads and a towel over his head. Kuithe eventually emerged from the tent with his right knee wrapped in ice before taking crutches and having a seat on the bench.

Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham was not optimistic that night postgame regarding Kuithe’s status, then ruled him out for the season two days later.

“I knew I tore it right away as soon as it happened, right after the play, so as soon as I felt it, I knew I was done,” Kuithe said. “I was hoping I wasn’t, but after I got up and tried to walk on it, I knew it was gone. It sucked, but everything happens for a reason.”

Kuithe indicated that rehab is going well, and that he should be good to go in late spring. Without knowing an actual target date for a full return, late spring could mean that Kuithe would miss all of spring practice at Utah, or, if he decides to turn pro, at least the NFL Combine, which runs Feb. 28 through March 6.

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