Tag:Utah Utes
Posted on: December 12, 2011 5:58 pm
 

Kalil, Lotulelei win Pac-12's Morris Trophy

One of the earliest lessons I learned as an NFL scout was to ask players for their opinions of their peers. They know, perhaps better than anyone else, who can really play and who is being overrated.

The Pac-12 is unique in that it is the only conference in BCS football that appears to agree with this rationale. As such, they give the conference's offensive lineman an opportunity to vote for the league's most dominant defensive lineman. The Pac-12's defensive linemen get the same treatment. Their opinions are the only ones that matter in recognizing the conference's elite offensive lineman. The top vote-getter is rewarded with the Morris Trophy.

Though the Pac-12 hasn't officially announced the winners yet for this season, NFLDraftScout.com has learned their identities.

The winners this year couldn't be much different.

To no one surprise, the Pac-12's defensive linemen voted Southern California junior left tackle Matt Kalil as the dominant offensive lineman in the conference. While overshadowed by USC's talent at the skill positions, savvy followers of the program know that the 6-6, 295 pound Kalil played a critical role in the Trojans' averaging an eye-popping 35.8 points per contest. That number may pale in comparison to many of the spread schemes proliferating the country, but for a ball-control offense playing against the caliber of competition USC faced this season, the production is very impressive. The younger brother of former USC standout (and current Carolina Panthers' Pro Bowler) Ryan Kalil, Matt could elect to leave after his junior season and be a likely a top ten pick. Kalil currently ranks No. 4 on my Big Board and is NFLDraftScout.com's top-rated offensive tackle potentially available for the 2012 draft.

The defensive winner, on the other hand, is a name that few outside of the Pac-12 will recognize. In fact, many inside of the conference likely don't know much about Utah junior defensive tackle Star Lotulelei. The conference's offensive linemen, however, obviously think quite highly of the 6-3, 325 pound defensive tackle.

Lotulelei signed with Utah from Snow Junior College just last year but emerged as a starter by season's end. This season, he's been virtually unstoppable despite the fact that he's often double-teamed. Lotulelei, who was named a First Team all-conference pick by the league's coaches, registered 38 tackles, including 9.5 tackles for loss on the season. His combination of size and power could make him a highly valued commodity -- especially for NFL teams looking for a potential nose guard. As such, Lotulelei is quickly rising up NFL draft boards. He is currently NFLDraftScout.com's No. 8 rated defensive tackle in the class of 2013.

Just as they likely are doing with Kalil, Pac-12 opponents can only hope the NFL proves so enticing that Lotulelei -- who is married and has a little girl -- elects to leave school early. 
Posted on: September 3, 2010 12:36 am
 

Dareus suspension mars spectacular Opening Day

Today should be remembered for what was a brilliant opening day of the D-IA college football season.

National title contenders Ohio State and Miami looked every bit the part in dismantling weak opponents (Marshall, Florida Atlantic) on their way to next weekend's showdown in Columbus.

Mountain West Conference power Utah successfully protected their home turf for an eye-popping 18th consecutive game in upsetting No. 15 Pittsburgh.

And by putting up 41 points in their home opener, one can't help but wonder if this finally is the year that the Ol Ball Coach's South Carolina Gamecocks take the next step offensively.

There were so many reasons to be optimistic about the college football season.

And instead, Tuesday evening news broke that Alabama defensive Marcell Dareus, a potential All-American and first round prospect, was suspended for the first two games of the year. Dareus follows UNC defensive tackle Marvin Austin as the latest casualty of the NCAA's investigation into players receiving innapropriate benefits from agents. He's arguably the best player on the best team in the country.

Forgive me for being pessimistic this evening of what should be the most optimistic day of the year.

But, after what has been a tumultuous offseason for college football, it would have been nice to enjoy it with the big news being the action on the field.

 
Posted on: March 9, 2010 11:32 am
Edited on: March 9, 2010 1:01 pm
 

Misi, snubbed FS Johnson impress at Utah Pro Day

Half of the teams in the NFL were represented yesterday at Utah's Pro Day. With several offensive line coaches in attendance, the the focus may have been on versatile offensive lineman Zane Beadles, but those in attendance tell me the two most impressive players were outside linebacker prospect Koa Misi and free safety Robert Johnson .

Misi, who I listed months ago as a Diamond in the Rough, has emerged as a legitimate top 75 candidate after impressing during the Senior Bowl and Combine in drills. A defensive end for the Utes, Misi is considered more athletic than his former teammate Paul Kruger, a second round pick by Baltimore last year that successfully made the transition from defensive end to outside linebacker for their 3-4 scheme. Misi, who did the entire workout at the Combine, didn't run the 40-yard dash or do all of the timed drills Monday. He did, however, cut his short shuttle time from 4.30 to 4.21 and looked very good in positional drills.

My fellow senior analyst Chad Reuter pointed out Robert Johnson as one of the year's bigger Combine snubs in a previous article. Johnson showed that he would have impressed in Indianapolis had he been invited. Johnson measured in at 6-2 1/8 and 203 pounds and lifted the bar 13 times, proving both bigger and stronger than scouts had anticipated. He clocked in at 4.55 to 4.62 in the 40-yard dash.

Johnson was most impressive, however, in the shuttle drills and positional workouts, proving a fluidity which helped him secure 13 interceptions over the past three seasons with the Utes. Johnson's time in the short shuttle was 4.06; his time in the 3-cone was 6.56, each of which would have led all safeties tested at the Combine. 



 
 
 
 
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