Here’s who would start in secondary for Utah if the season began today

Tao Johnson practices during spring camp at the Spence and Cleone Eccles Football Center on Tuesday, March 26, 2024.

There’s still over 150 days left until the Utes kick off the season against Southern Utah, so a lot could change on the depth chart leading up to kickoff, but through three weeks of spring football, players are starting to separate themselves in the secondary.

With cornerback Miles Battle testing the NFL Draft waters after completing his NCAA eligibility, cornerback JaTravis Broughton transferring to LSU and nickel back Tao Johnson making the move to safety in 2024 — plus starting safeties Cole Bishop and Sione Vaki headed to the NFL Draft — the back end of Utah’s defense is going to look different in 2024.

The only returning starter from Utah’s 2023 secondary is senior cornerback Zemaiah Vaughn, who had the best season of his career last year, earning an All-Pac-12 honorable mention nod while being Utah’s second-highest-graded defensive player among players that played 100 or more snaps, according to Pro Football Focus. Vaughn finished the season with 53 tackles, five tackles for loss, an interception and seven pass deflections.

“With no Zemaiah, we’d be in a world of hurt. To have him come back puts us in a very good position to be competitive in every single game,” cornerbacks coach Sharrieff Shah said.

This week, Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said if the season started today, Vaughn and senior Georgia Tech transfer Kenan Johnson would be at the two outside cornerback spots, with sophomore Smith Snowden at the nickel back spot.

Johnson brings Division I experience to the cornerback room, having played in 45 games for the Yellow Jackets, and started eight games in 2023, totaling 29 tackles, two forced fumbles, four pass deflections and an interception.

“He’s made plays from day one. He…

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Author : Deseret News

Publish date : 2024-03-31 23:53:56

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