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Ute positions breakdown: receivers Singleton, Simpkins and Wilson look to adapt to new offense

Utah Utes wide receivers Raelon Singleton, Demari Simpkins and Siaosi Wilson look to adapt to new offense.
Utah Utes wide receivers Raelon Singleton, Demari Simpkins and Siaosi Wilson look to adapt to new offense.
Deseret News and Associated Press

Utah's wide receivers are young players ready to prove themselves under new offensive coordinator Troy Taylor's new high-flying offense.

While the Utes have relied on a strong running game for the past few seasons, they will need several underclassmen to step up to improve the passing game. Fortunately, Utah has plenty of talent and ability in its young guns.

Here's a breakdown of Utah's receivers for 2017:

Key loses

Tim Patrick: Patrick led the Utes in both receiving yards (711) and receiving touchdowns (5). He's now fighting for a roster spot as an undrafted free agent in Baltimore, but he's reportedly doing well.

Cory Butler-Byrd: Butler-Byrd had a tumultuous senior year to say the least, but he was a regular contributor. He gained 861 all-purpose yards last season as he rushed, caught passes and returned kickoffs for Utah last season.

Evan Moeai: Moeai was Utah's top tight end last season with 308 yards and two touchdowns.

Projected depth chart

Starters: Raelon Singleton, Demari Simpkins, Siaosi Wilson, Harrison Handley, Siale Fakailoatonga

Key backups: Troy McCormick Jr., Kyle Fulks, Samson Nacua, Bapa Falemaka

Peavler's take:

The Utes have a lot of young players that they need to step up to make the shift to the new pass-happy offense a smooth one.

Singleton is the Utes' top returning receiver with 464 yards and four touchdowns last season. He had one excellent game against Arizona State where he scored three touchdowns. He should be one of the greatest beneficiaries of Utah's shift in offensive philosophy as long as he can stay healthy.

Simpkins is a player poised for a breakout season in Utah under the new pass-happy offensive coordinator. He made 19 receptions for 158 yards as a true freshman last season. He had a nice day against Indiana in the Foster Farms Bowl, where he showed his ability to get yards after the catch.

Wilson is another young starter who caught 15 passes for 183 yards and two touchdowns as a redshirt freshman. Ute fans might remember this monster block he made against an Indiana defender in the bowl game:

Both of Utah's projected starting tight ends missed spring ball due to injury. Fakailoatonga missed all of 2016 due to an injury in fall camp. Handley made 12 receptions for 168 yards. We'll see how their production rises as they get healthy and adapt to this new offense.

McCormick was yet another victim of the injury bug last season, but he has the physical abilities to be a solid wide receiver. According to his official Utah profile, McCormick has run a 4.46 40-yard dash and a 37-inch vertical. Those are NFL Combine quality stats. Hopefully for the Utes he can stay healthy and play up to his full potential.

Fulks is another speedster with an impressive 4.44 40-yard dash time, according to his official Utah profile. He made six catches for 57 yards last season. Nacua was able to walk on last season and is now a scholarship player. The redshirt freshman was taken from BYU's backyard at Timpview and is the brother of former Cougar Kai Nacua. He had 2,000 career receiving yards in high school and has worked his way into the two deep.

Falemaka has been one of the starters in spring ball at tight end with Fakailoatonga and Handley both injured. The redshirt freshman could also see the field early in the season should either of the starters not be healthy in time.