Looking at NCAA Transfer Portal Needs for Utah
With the early signing period over and the transfer waiver rule in effect for one season, the University of Utah is expected to be active with the NCAA Transfer Portal. Just who they might be after is a little harder to determine compared to actual recruiting, so here’s a look at each position and the ones most likely to take a swing at the portal.
The program still strongly believes in the ability of initial 2020 starter Cam Rising. While he had surgery, he is progressing as best as he possibly could, and better than previous diagnoses. He should be available for limited work in the spring—if only for repetition and muscle memory purposes.
With Rising coming off injury and Bentley transferring out after a disappointing season, Utah needed an insurance plan and in less than 24 hours apart from each other, they landed two: freshman Texas transfer Ja’Quinden Jackson and highly regarded Baylor grad transfer, Charlie Brewer.
With these additions and Rising retiring to pre-injury form, the offense is in great hands.
The late Ty Jordan was so good that Jordan Wilmore and Devin Brumfield both hit the transfer portal before the team’s final game. This now leaves Micah Bernard as the lone returning scholarship back, and they’ll also welcome in 4-star Ricky Parks. Kyle Whittingham takes a hard stance on allowing guys back into the program that want to go elsewhere, but could 2020 be an exception? Bernard is likely to be the lead back regardless now, as he showed glimpses of his elite talent and the program remains high on his potential. Look for the Utes to add another back to bring Kiel McDonald's running back room to four personnel.
The Utes could look to add a steady backup or they could welcome one of the two now former Utes back.
Regardless of how much this group is talked up, they need to show the results on the field more consistently. Between injuries and Bentley’s struggles at quarterback in 2020, this group wasn’t able to fully show just how good they can be.
If a potential difference-maker or two—or proven receivers—show up on their doorstep, the staff will be doing backflips. There was one potential target that’s been wavering on hitting the transfer portal ever since last offseason, but that ship might have sailed for the Utes due to the passing offense success at his school and the lack thereof this last season at Utah. Regardless, the Utes will look to add some talent in the receiver room.
These guys are absolutely loaded. There’s no need for Utah to take another tight end transfer like they did last year with Dalton Kincaid. The only question is, will there be a bunch of three tight end sets in 2021?
There’s no need, unless Utah stumbles across a “can’t miss” transfer. Utah should be feeling extremely confident about their two-deep heading into 2021. There’s no reason to rock the boat, despite some 2020 struggles. It’s important to remember that this group was rocked the worst by the Covid-19 protocols. The Utes rotated a bunch of underclassmen in 2020 in hopes they are paid off with an experienced group in 2021.
This group lost Pita Tonga to the transfer portal and still should arguably be the best in the Pac-12 in 2021. Of course they’d take a “can’t miss type,” but Siaki Ika went to Baylor. It’s just a tough depth-chart for any transfer to crack, unless they’re unfazed and believe that Utah can best maximize their talents.
This isn’t a huge need at all, other than if you’re looking for experience. As of this article, Devin Lloyd has yet to announce whether he’ll head to the NFL, so that’s another factor here. The Utes will also be losing freshman Sione Fotu to a two year church mission.
The likelihood is that they don’t add any backers through the transfer portal, since they have five incoming freshmen—and more than a couple could play right away.
With Nate Richie heading on a two year church mission, Utah could look to add a seasoned safety to the mix. However, the return of RJ Hubert from his 2019 knee injury and the unexpected emergence of walkon freshman Zemaiah Vaughn, don’t make this highly critical. Still, with Utah’s reputation at the safety position, there could be a nice surprise that falls into Utah’s lap.
After starting the season with cornerbacks that had little to no NCAA experience, this group is suddenly a position of strength for the defense. That being said, the same applies to this group as the safeties. Utah corners not only produce at a high level in college, but the NFL level as well. That could be appealing to a transfer that knows a solid performance in Utah’s rotation would likely give them a sniff in the NFL.
Ben Lennon hit the portal after a subpar two seasons at Utah. He’s the first of the Aussie kickers to not live up to expectations, so depending on what falls in the portal, there could be another Aussie kicker fall their way, whether through transferring or straight from Pro Kick Australia.