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Wednesday, Oct. 22, 2014

Utah football fall practice position preview: the receivers

By Carter Williams, Deseret News

Published: Mon, July 28 11:08 a.m. MDT

 Dres Anderson catches a touchdown during a University of Utah football scrimmage at Rice-Eccles Stadium Saturday, April 12, 2014,  in Salt Lake City.

Dres Anderson catches a touchdown during a University of Utah football scrimmage at Rice-Eccles Stadium Saturday, April 12, 2014, in Salt Lake City.

(Tom Smart, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — Of all the positions on the offense, receiving corps is where the Utes have to be the most confident as they head into fall practice.

It all starts with senior receiver Dres Anderson (6-foot-2, 190 pounds), who has been on the national radar all preseason. Anderson landed on the Biletnikoff, Maxwell and CFPA wide receiver award watch lists. Anderson landed on all Pac-12 honorable mention list last year after leading the Utes in receiving, while Kenneth Scott (6-3, 208) returned from injury.

The receiving corps is filled with speed and size, and the hope will be not to rely solely on Anderson.

Returning experience

Anderson led the Utes last year with 1,002 yards receiving on 53 catches (18.9 yards per catch), while Scott returns after missing last year with an ankle injury. The junior caught 32 passes for 360 yards and three touchdowns in 2012 and figures to break out alongside Anderson.

Aside from the top two returning receivers, the lightning-quick Delshawn McClellon (5-9, 169) figures to be a threat, as does Dominique Hatfield (5-10, 175). The two sophomores have the potential to break out big plays. Senior Geoffrey Norwood (5-8, 175) also returns. Norwood caught 13 passes for 173 yards last season.

Senior Westlee Tonga (6-4, 252) and sophomore Siale Fakailoatonga (6-3, 251) each return as tight ends, trying to replace the production lost by the outgoing Jake Murphy. The pair combined to make four catches for 46 total yards, while Murphy caught 25 passes for 417 yards and five touchdowns last season.

However, both Tonga and Fakailoatonga can provide a security blanket for the quarterback. Freshman Harrison Handley (6-4, 250), who redshirted last year, could also play a factor at tight end this year.

Key additions

Senior Kaelin Clay (5-10, 188), a junior college transfer, has one year of eligibility with the Utes. The speedster projects as a possible third receiver behind Anderson and Scott. He can also help on special teams, as a kickoff and punt returner.

Incoming freshmen Kenric Young (6-2, 180), a three-star recruit from Gainesville, Florida, and Raelon Singleton (6-3, 190), a three-star recruit from Crosby, Texas, both project to bring size to corps.

Dark horse

With Anderson on all the watch lists, defenses may fail to overlook Clay — the junior college transfer from Mt. San Antonio College. Clay was a touchdown machine there, finding the end zone 16 times last year in the junior college ranks.

However, his speed is what can make him into one receiver to look out for. The speedster projects well as a possible slot receiver or returner on the special teams, but coaches believe he can play outside too.

General outlook

All eyes will be on Anderson, who has the potential to end the year as the top receiver in the conference. However, the Utes project to be a much faster team on the field this year than in prior seasons. The experience at the top of the depth chart could play a factor this year.

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1. East Coast Ute
Storrs, CT,
July 28, 2014

I expected a bit better research than this. No mention of Kenneth Scott, the projected No. 2 wideout who broke out in limited time behind Devonte Christopher his sophomore season before being injured in the first game last year. No mention of Harrison Handley at TE, who redshirted last season, but as a better receiver, will probably see more time in this offense than Fakailoatonga. Kenric Young's size isn't the exciting attribute he's bringing to the team, it's his blazing speed. The guy was one of the fastest 100m and 200m runners in the country last year.

2. Who am I sir?
Cottonwood Heights, UT,
July 28, 2014

Loaded!

3. Who am I sir?
Cottonwood Heights, UT,
July 28, 2014

@East Coast Ute

"I expected a bit better research than this," Are you kidding me? This is a Deseret News article about the University of Utah. I was shocked it was positive.

4. Coach Biff
Lehi, UT,
July 28, 2014

This should be a strong position for Utah this year. With this type of speed, Utah will surprise some folks this year. PS-before you waste your time, I'm a Coug and a high school coach. Utah has great speed in the receiving corps this year. They will stretch the field easily. The real question is if they can run the ball with some balance.

5. Naval Vet
Philadelphia, PA,
July 28, 2014

Scott doesn't have the wheels Anderson has, but he's got the better hands. Additionally, at 6-3/208, he'll be a good situation receiver who will go up and contest all balls. Clay will be an exciting WR, but so too should Andre Lewis....who I didn't hear mentioned in this article. Lewis possesses all the size and hands of Scott.

East Coast Ute already stated as much, but perhaps the cougar-coddling DNews writers can give us a little more depth coverage on what we Ute fans can expect from Handley? And Lewis?