Wednesday, May 21, 2014
Spring breakout player: Utah
By Kevin Gemmell
This week, the Pac-12 blog will finish looking around the conference at several players who really stood out during spring ball. It’s only 15 practices, but it’s enough time to catch the eyes of coaches and gain momentum going into the season.
We continue the series with the Utah Utes.
Breakout player: RB Devontae Booker
2013 statistics: Booker signed with Utah in 2013, but did not play while he worked to qualify academically at American River College. In 2012, he rushed for 1,472 yards and 15 touchdowns with nine catches for 58 yards and two touchdowns.
The case for Booker: The Utes had a few guys who impressed on both sides of the ball –- including wide receiver Dominique Hatfield, defensive back Justin Thomas and defensive lineman Jason Fanaika.
But the coaching staff couldn’t stop raving about what Booker brings to the table. At 5-foot-11, 200 pounds, he has the size to motor through people, but not so much size that he can’t run around folks, either.
For now, Bubba Poole is the starting running back. But Booker is right on his heels. In the Utah spring game, Booker rushed for 103 yards and two touchdowns on 19 carries. It’s obvious the coaching staff wanted a good look at him in game situations. And he responded.
With Poole, Troy McCormick and Booker, the Utes have a quality troika that could do some damage as the team adjusts to its third offensive coordinator in as many years. The Pac-12 blog specifically asked Kyle Whittingham about the running back situation and he said he’s not married to the idea of a single back. But rather a diversified by-committee backfield that he could use based on the down, distance and situation.
Booker’s emergence this spring gives Utah yet another option. Right now his greatest shortfall is conditioning. But Whittingham said once he gets into the kind of shape they’d like to see, he believes Booker has the potential to be a standout Pac-12 back.
Booker has two years of eligibility remaining.
Other spring breakout players:
Arizona: WR Cayleb Jones
Arizona State: LB D.J. Calhoun
Cal: RB Daniel Lasco
Colorado: WR Bryce Bobo
Oregon: WR Devon Allen
Oregon State: WR Victor Bolden
Stanford: DL Aziz Shittu
UCLA: CB Fabian Moreau
USC: WR Nelson Agholor