Utah Utes Preview: Roster, Prospects, Schedule, and More

Cameron Rising leads the Utah Utes heading into the 2023 season. We're diving into Rising, Cole Bishop, and other Utah 2024 NFL Draft prospects.

Coming off an excellent 2022 season that included a Rose Bowl appearance, the Utah Utes are hoping for some better health luck this fall. Head coach Kyle Whittingham has a talented roster at his disposal once again. We’re taking a look at the Utes’ 2024 NFL Draft prospects, schedule, and roster changes.

Utah Utes Roster and Depth Chart Changes

Losing three players taken in the top 120 picks of the NFL Draft is never easy to overcome for non-blue blood programs. The Utes watched star tight end Dalton Kincaid be selected in the first round, then defensive leader Clark Phillips go in the fourth. Five picks after Phillips, offensive tackle Braeden Daniels was picked.

Thankfully, for Utah, they didn’t have a veteran roster that lost significantly more production from 2022. Their blend of junior and senior talent is peaking at the right time as quarterback Cameron Rising enters his final season of eligibility. The Pac-12 is looking incredibly competitive, but the Utes will vie for a conference title.

Utah NFL Draft Prospects

Cameron Rising, QB

It’s hard to find a more likable player archetype than Rising. A hyper-competitive quarterback who leaves it all on the line every game, Rising is capable of inspiring his teammates and fans at any given moment. Of course, that comes with a price, as Rising has been injured in each of the last three seasons.

That includes a torn ACL in the Rose Bowl this past January. Rising’s return will be scrutinized as teams look to see whether he still has the quickness to move around the pocket and thrive on rollouts as he once did. Assuming he’s healthy, Rising offers a high floor.

The 6’2″, 220-pounder is efficient as a game manager and will occasionally take a risk that can change the momentum of games. He’s a solid pocket presence who can attack all three layers of the defense with good arm strength.

Rising can improve his consistency in reacting to pressure and post-snap defensive changes that have led to some confusing decisions on his part. It’s tough to see him having a skill set that leads to starting in the NFL long-term, but he should be a very good backup.

Brant Kuithe, TE

Playing in Kincaid’s shadow last season, Brant Kuithe is back for a sixth season in 2023. A hybrid receiver and tight end at 6’2″ and 230 pounds, Kuithe does have the speed to expose linebackers in coverage. But he really stood out for his comfort catching passes with little separation or room to operate.

Kuithe isn’t a sudden athlete, nor is he overly coordinated after the catch. He can certainly fill a role as someone who has schemed chips and releases as a receiver, and his toughness translates well as a blocker. He has a Day 3 grade for teams looking for a nice complementary piece that contributes to winning.

Sataoa Laumea, OT

A big body who projects best as a guard in the NFL, Laumea has serious power as he drives defenders wherever he wants them to go. His giant 6’4″, 321-pound frame isn’t going to do well when asked to move laterally, but he can get to the second level enough in gap schemes to have confidence in. He’s a run-first blocker who will benefit from the lack of extra space he has to overcome at tackle.

His pass-blocking ability could use some work. He’s prone to bending at the waist and reaching into defenders’ bodies too much. Laumea also gives up his inside shoulder because he wants to throw his inside hand instead of keeping it open for redirections.

Technical refinements aside, Laumea can fit well into the right scheme and carries a solid Day 3 grade entering the season.

Keaton Bills, G

Another thickly-built blocker, Keaton Bills plays left guard. His build is limiting as he’s unable to get low and win the leverage battle consistently. Instead, he’ll barrel into defenders, which is a high-risk move that either works well or is a major miss.

Paul Maile (54) and Utah Utes offensive lineman Keaton Bills (51) during the second half at Steve Spurrier-Florida Field.

Bills moves surprisingly well for his build, making him a better fit for gap schemes asking him to move upfield over covering a significant amount of ground laterally.

Zemaiah Vaughn, CB

A long but thin corner at 6’2″ and 175 pounds, Zemaiah Vaughn has speed for days. He’s most comfortable handling vertical stem routes that don’t ask him to make scheme reads. He saw his ball production increase in 2022, notching nine pass breakups and a forced fumble.

There’s certainly room for improvement, though. Vaughn isn’t a playmaker on the ball yet, and he’s more of a gang tackler in the run game. His zone reads are also inconsistent, so becoming more confident and instinctive in those assignments will boost his value significantly.

Cole Bishop, S

Cole Bishop is one of the best safeties in the nation. He’s a do-it-all talent who will line up everywhere, from single-high to two-high to the line of scrimmage. His production reflects the fact that he’s often everywhere the ball is.

He has good size at 6’2″ and 205 pounds and fits the modern NFL very well. He’s fast to react and able to handle his own in the slot against receivers and tight ends. Bishop has a firm Day 2 grade and should be a starter in the NFL.

Utah Utes Schedule

  • Week 1
    BYE
  • Week 2
    Aug. 31: vs. Florida Gators
  • Week 3
    Sept. 9: at Baylor Bears
  • Week 4
    Sept. 16: vs. Weber State Wildcats
  • Week 5
    Sept. 23: vs. UCLA Bruins
  • Week 6
    Sept. 29: at Oregon State Beavers
  • Week 7
    BYE
  • Week 8
    Oct. 14: vs. California Golden Bears
  • Week 9
    Oct. 21: at USC Trojans
  • Week 10
    Oct. 28: vs. Oregon Ducks
  • Week 11
    Nov. 4: vs. Arizona State Sun Devils
  • Week 12
    Nov. 11: at Washington Huskies
  • Week 13
    Nov. 18: at Arizona Wildcats
  • Week 14
    Nov. 25: vs. Colorado Buffaloes
  • Week 15
    BYE

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