Camp Kyle Day 8: Linebackers and True Freshmen

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Devin Lloyd (0) and Nephi Sewell (29) at Utah football practice. (image courtesy Utah Athletics)

By Sammy Mora, Sports Editor

 

The University of Utah football team was in an eerily similar position last season with their linebacker core. Fans were speculating on who would take the second linebacker spot next to Francis Bernard, enter Devin Lloyd. 

Things ended up pretty well for the Utes with the duo, Lloyd ended up leading the team in tackles last season with 91 total tackles on the season. Lloyd also had 11 TFL last season. 

Now the roles have been reversed as Lloyd is the returning backer for the Utes but fans have been speculating on who will be lining up next to him come Nov. 7. One name that keeps coming up is Nephi Sewell. 

Sewell was on the team last season but took reps as a safety. This season he is going to be making the transition to linebacker, hopefully filling the spot next to Lloyd when the season starts. 

Linebackers coach Colton Swan is proud of the progress that Sewell has made in the offseason in his jump to a new position. 

“He’s a really savvy football player. He’s starting to see the blocking schemes in front of him and fitting correctly,” Swan said. “He’s making great strides and I’m really happy with where he is at. It’s still a competition amongst him and the rest of the guys, but really satisfied with how he’s handling what’s being put on his plate.” 

Utah has had a good history when it comes to players switching positions. On multiple occasions, head coach Kyle Whittingham has compared Sewell to Chase Hansen, another player who made the switch to linebacker.

“Chase is a great example of the move I’m making. I’ve watched a lot of tape on him and the one thing that has stood out is his explosiveness and how he used that to his advantage,” Sewell said. 

Playing linebacker is something that runs in the Sewell family. Two of Sewell’s brothers have either played or are currently playing the position at the collegiate level. Gabe played at Nevada for four years while Noah is a freshman at Oregon. 

Another hot topic spot on the Utah defense this season is how the secondary will go about replacing almost the whole unit. 

Nate Ritche continues to make waves at the safety spot, contending for the starting spot opposite RJ Hubert. According to Whittingham, the true freshman will be on the field in some capacity this season. 

“He is at the point where he is in the mix as one of the best two safeties. We put the two best guys out there,” Whittingham said. “It doesn’t matter if they are labeled as a strong safety or free safety.” 

Ritche won’t be the only true freshman Whittingham expects to see on the field this season. Offensive lineman Jaren Kump, defensive back Clark Phillips, running back Ty Jordan, and defensive linemen Xavier Carlton and Van Fillinger are other players Whittingham expects to see on the field this season. 

Whittingham also addressed an ongoing battle at the kicker position on Monday. According to him, true freshman Jordan Noyes had a tiny edge over Jadon Redding, who did the kicking for the team last season. 

 

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