March 23, 2006

Ten to watch this spring

Spring football opens up in two days and with its arrival, Utah fans will get a first hand look at how the Utes have progressed in the offseason. Here is a list of ten players who have the opportunity to make the leap to impact players with a strong showing this spring.

Ten players to watch
LB: Chet Blasucci
6-2, 240, La Canada (Calif.)
Snow College
Blasucci, a JC transfer from Snow College, enters spring listed as the co-starter at MAC linebacker with Loma Olevao. A strong showing will earn Blasucci a starting spot and answer a lot of questions about the linebacker corp.
OL: Jeremy Inferrera
6-3, 292, Honolulu (Hawaii)
Infererra, a transfer from Hawaii who sat out last year, is big, powerful, and has the ability to play multiple positions. Infererra's versatility should be a huge asset for the Utes, and he will be looking to push for a starting spot at center. If not, look for him to backup several positions on the offensive line this season.
QB: Tommy Grady
6-7, 233, Huntington Beach (Calif.)
A transfer from Oklahoma, Grady has been wowing coaches with his solid play on the scout team since his arrival in Salt Lake City. He spent last year's home games in the booth learning the offense under the tutelage of offensive coordinator Andy Ludwig, and could make some serious waves now that he is allowed to compete. At 6-foot-7, he is tall and athletic, and has a cannon for an arm. Grady is no stranger to hype, having been an elite high school recruit before committing initially to the Sooners. Beginning on Saturday, Grady will be able to prove if the hype was warranted.
RB: Darrell Mack
6-0, 216, Spring Valley (Calif.)
Monte Vista HS
Darrell Mack joined the Utes last year as a record breaking runner out of the San Diego area. However he was still recovering from the effects of a major knee injury and he played the entire season in a bulky knee brace. Mack got some valuable game experience in spot duty as a true freshman playing behind NFL bound Quinton Ganther. Look for Mack to make an immediate impression now that he is finally 100% and the knee brace is off. Mack may be the X factor in how successful the Utah offense is this season.
DE: Paul Soliai
6-4, 318, Pago Pago (Samoa)
Coffeyville CC
Soliai, a former junior college All-American offensive lineman, was easily Urban Meyer's most heralded recruit during his stint at Utah. After struggling on the offensive side of the ball, Soliai made the move to the defensive line during fall camp last year and has started to blossom as a player. With a year of playing the position under his belt, Soliai has the opportunity to showcase his superior physical skills and make a huge impact this year.
DB: Brice McCain
5-9, 178, Terrell (Texas)
Terrell HS
McCain showed flashes of his potential last season as a true freshman backup. The speedy sophomore is easily the fastest player on the defense and uses his speed and athleticism to make up for whatever shortcomings he may have in technique and experience. With a solid spring, McCain could distinguish himself among what is turning out to be a rather deep pool of cornerbacks.
DE: Greg Newman
6-4, 256, Thousand Oaks (Calif.)
Westlake HS
Newman, a transfer from Colorado, is another player that could earn significant playing time with a solid spring. He was originally a linebacker, but has since grown out of the position. If Newman can get his weight up around 270 lbs while still retaining his speed, he could earn a spot in the rotation at base end..
WR: Brent Casteel
5-10, 193, San Francisco (Calif.)
Antioch HS
Casteel started the 2005 season with a lot of promise, but his productivity tailed off as the season progressed. Despite his growing pains, he still ended the season as an honorable mention Freshman All-American and Utah's top all-purpose threat. This spring Casteel has the opportunity to start fresh and live up to his true potential.
QB: Brett Ratliff
6-4, 224, Chico (Calif.)
Butte College
After leading Utah to wins over BYU and Georgia Tech in 2005, Ratliff enters spring as the number one quarterback. However, despite his late season heroics last year, Ratliff will need a strong spring to hold off Tommy Grady and the injured Brian Johnson. If Ratliff can take the reigns of the Utah offense and run with it, expect a standout year from the senior quarterback.
WR: Bradon Godfrey
6-3, 198, Layton (Utah)
Southern Utah
Bradon Godfrey is another new addition to an already deep ad talented receiver pool. The walkon transfer from SUU is a good route runner with outstanding hands. Observers have compared him to Travis LaTendresse, a former walkon receiver that made a huge impact for the Utes. If Godfrey performs like he did on last year's scout team, he may end up making an impact.

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