SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – A very young Utah football team will take the field on Saturday, November 7 at Rice-Eccles Stadium against the Arizona Wildcats.
After a successful 11-3 season last year, Utah lost 9 starters on defense and three starters on offense. Now, Kyle Whittingham and his coaching staff will rely on true freshmen to step up.
Utah’s 2020 recruiting class was one of the best in school history. It’s time for players to show their worth on the big stage right away.
The Crimson Corner podcast discussed those freshmen and talked about the end of fall camp.
Ty Jordan, Running Back
The three-star all-purpose back from Mesquite, Texas has been one of the biggest standouts in camp. It seemed like Kyle Whittingham has talked about Jordan multiple times throughout fall camp.
“Ty Jordan is going to have a role as well,” Whittingham said after stating that Jordan Wilmore and Devin Brumfield are at the top of the pecking order. “He’s got tremendous speed as a 10×500 meter track guy. We need to find ways to get him the ball.”
Jordan will wear No. 22 this season.
Kump returned from his two-year church mission and has been outstanding in fall camp. He has immediately worked himself into contention to start but will definitely be in the offensive line rotation.
“Incredible physical specimen, 6’5, closer to 6’6, 310 pounds, very little body fat and the guy is just an incredibly fit human being,” Whittingham said. “Excellent feet, competitive, very smart and you will see a lot of him either in the starting lineup or in a rotation, he’s a guy that has really impressed throughout this fall camp. We run gassers at the end of some of the practices and he is running at the same rate as the wide receivers at 310 pounds as far as the times that he’s turned it in for the gassers so he’s really a special kid and to be able to come off a church mission and be a true freshman and be at the level he is right now is phenomenal.”
The Herriman High School product was asked about his biggest adjustment since returning from his mission.
“Besides the physical standpoint and getting back into shape for football, I think the biggest adjustment was also the mental side of it,” Kump said. “Serving an LDS mission, going into that mindset for two years and coming back and switch to being a football player, learning the plays, getting into the playbook and what not so I think honestly the biggest adjustment I had to make was mentally.”
Kump will wear No. 68 this season.
With the departure of Jaylen Dixon and Tyrone Young-Smith suffering a season-ending injury, Money Parks will be in the mix for reps this season.
Parks will wear No. 10 this season.
Van Fillinger, Defensive End
Fillinger was originally committed to Texas before deciding to decommit and sign with Utah. The Corner Canyon product and four-star prospect will be getting playing time immediately.
“Two outstanding freshmen prospects,” Whittingham said of both Carlton and Fillinger. “You’re going to see these guys on the field on Saturday. They both got a great skill set as far as their physical stature. They have really progressed over the last four weeks so very, very pleased with those guys.”
The highly touted defensive end talked about making the transition from high school to college football.
“Probably the biggest adjustment is just knowing the game having an understanding of the game,” Fillinger stated. “Where in high school, I really didn’t study it as much and I didn’t know as much of what was going on in the backfield and I just kind of knew my job, but now I’ve got a more understanding of what’s going on around me.”
Fillinger will wear No. 7 this season.
Xavier Carlton, Defensive End
Carlton was a four-star prospect from Juan Diego High School. He has tremendous size and speed to compliment that size.
Like Fillinger, Carlton will be in position to play right away.
Well, the biggest adjustment coming from high school was playing against offensive linemen that are the same height, the same length as me. You know, coming from Juan Diego High School, I was used to playing against offensive linemen that were 5’9 and lower. I think that was the biggest adjustment coming up to the university. But I know that I have the ability to excel.
Carlton will wear No. 44 this season.
Tennessee Pututau, Defensive Tackle
Coming off of a two-year church mission, Pututau has been a standout in camp on the defensive line. It seems like the Utes will be 6 players deep at the defensive tackle position.
“Tennessee Pututau has really shown well,” Whittingham said.
Pututau will wear No. 99 this season.
Tanoa Togiai, Defensive Tackle
Utah is stacked at the defensive tackle position and has a lot of experience. The fact that Togiai is constantly mentioned as a guy in the mix as a true freshman is impressive.
“Another freshman d-tackle that is going to be in the mix,” Whittingham said.
It’s safe to say that Utah will continue to be dominant on the defensive line for years to come.
Togiai will wear No. 96 this season.
Clark Phillips III, Cornerback
With a 0.9744 247Sports composite rating, Clark Phillips III is the highest rated recruit in Utah football history. That alone has put a bright spotlight on Phillips as a true freshman. With the departures of Jaylon Johnson, Josh Nurse and Javelin Guidry, Phillips is going to be heavily relied on early in his Utah career to come in and shine right away.
Early in fall camp, Phillips was getting reps at the nickel position. During the last week of camp, Kyle Whittingham said that Phillips has moved back to outside corner.
“The goal is to teach him both positions,” cornerbacks coach Sharrieff Shah said early in camp. “We don’t have the luxury just to have him learn the inside. We want to be able to introduce most of the ball players that are in my room, the nuances of nickel and outside corner. It is very difficult to understand and play the inside. But what I envisioned and hopefully begins to understand it at a rate that gives us comfort and confidence in him is that he’ll be able to understand both the inside as well as he’s already been able to understand the outside. So we’d like him to develop and continuing to develop both positions.”
The La Habra, California native joined Utah in January and was involved with the program in the spring. Phillips felt like that gave him a leg up on the others that didn’t show up until the summer or fall.
“First of all, I say that coming in early was probably the best decision I made personally, just because seeing where the freshmen are right now. Even with the time that we’ve been granted, you know, through the whole COVID process has definitely given me a leg up in comparison to the other guys in the room. Just looking back now like, ‘hey, I’ve been here probably about 10 or 11 months, so, it’s definitely given me a good amount of time to get acclimated, get used to things and learn the system.”
Phillips will wear No. 21 this season.
Out of Lone Peak High School, three-star safety Nate Ritchie has been outstanding in fall camp. Coach Whittingham has spoken highly of him to the point that he is comparing the young safety to All-American Chase Hansen.
“Skillset first and foremost he’s got size, he’s got speed, he’s a physical player, he’s intelligent and so just his ability across the board is really what sets him apart,” Whittingham said. “He’s a guy that has a great football IQ as well and he’s instinctive and so all the things you look for in a safety Nate possesses. I’ve compared him to Chase Hansen, I still will make that comparison as far as the type of player that he is and and the impact that he can have. Know he’s just a true freshman. I don’t want to put too much pressure on him right now but he’s he’s a guy you’re going to see on the field and see quite a bit.”
The Lone Peak product talked about being compared to Chase Hansen.
“It kind of gives me a little fire under me to be compared to him just because not only at my high school, he was one of the greatest but especially here at Utah is one of the greatest. It shows that coach Whitt has some confidence in me, which really builds my confidence and being able to improve every day and become better every day.”
Ritchie will wear No. 6 this season.
Latu will be in position to get playing time as a member of the two-deep on the depth chart. Whittingham has been pleased with how he has acclimated to the system and is in contention to get playing time in 2020.
Latu will wear No. 13 this season.