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Friday, March 28, 2014
Biggest shoes to fill: Utah

By Kevin Gemmell

Starters in, starters out. That's college football. Players' eligibility expires and they leave for the rest of their lives, which might include the NFL or not. And they leave behind shoes of various sizes that need to be filled.

In alphabetical order, we will survey each Pac-12 team’s most notable void. Today we look at Utah.

Biggest shoes: DL/OLB Trevor Reilly

Man, was this guy good. He played through injuries and carried the Utes with his ability to rush the quarterback, stop the run and play in coverage. He was a true hybrid, and as a result was rewarded as a first-team all-conference performer. He led the Utes with 100 tackles. He led the Utes with 16 tackles for a loss. He led the Utes with 8.5 sacks. He tied for the most interceptions (1) and most fumbles recovered (3). Of all the players we’ve talked about replacing so far in this series, few were as versatile and wore as many hats as Reilly.

Stepping in: No one

Does that seem a little vague? Well, coach Kyle Whittingham said it himself. “It takes two guys to replace Trevor.” It’s a very apt statement, because Utah doesn’t have another hybrid guy like Reilly. Not many teams do. Reilly would handle responsibilities at both defensive end and outside linebacker. Now, it will be an individual guy in each spot. Nate Orchard will handle the defensive end responsibilities and Jason Whittingham will be the linebacker. Not complete downgrades, by any means. Whittingham was second on the team in tackles last year behind Reilly with 81. He was also notched five tackles for a loss, a sack and broke up four passes. Orchard did some good work in the backfield as well, recording 9 tackles for a loss and 3.5 sacks to go with his 50 tackles.

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