Why Brant Kuithe resisted declaring for NFL draft and returned for 2021 campaign
Kuithe led the Utes in receptions in 2018, 2019 and 2020. He has 79 career receptions for 1,065 yards and seven receiving touchdowns, while he’s rushed 13 times for 150 yards and three TDs
During spring practices, Utah junior tight end Brant Kuithe hasn’t been participating much due to an injury.
But it’s not expected to be a long-term issue.
“He hasn’t had a lot of work this spring,” said coach Kyle Whittingham. “He hasn’t been a part of what we’re doing but he’ll be a big part of what we’re doing this fall.”
Indeed, Kuithe will be counted on to make a big impact on the offense, once again, in 2021.
He led the Utes in receptions in 2018, 2019 and 2020. He has 79 career receptions for 1,065 yards and seven receiving touchdowns while he’s rushed 13 times for 150 yards and three TDs.
The 6-foot-2, 230-pound native of Katy, Texas, earned second-team All-Pac-12 honors in 2019 and 2020.
Whittingham loves Kuithe’s versatility and his ability to play in multiple spots on the field — like wide receiver, tight end and fullback.
“He’s an extremely talented young man. He’s more of a hybrid than he is a tight end. He doesn’t have the prototypical tight end size. He’s more of an H-back,” he said. “He played running back in high school. He catches the ball exceptionally well, runs great routes and he’s elusive in the open field as you’ve seen many times over the last couple of years. He’s a big weapon for us.”
Kuithe is one of the Utes that could have declared early for the NFL draft but he decided to return for another year.
“I had a decent season but we only won three games,” he explained. “We haven’t won a Pac-12 championship. That’s the most important goal. Every single year, we fall short of it. I came here to win that.”
No, Kuithe wasn’t satisfied with his performance in 2020 — 25 catches, 236 yards, zero touchdowns — during a five-game 2020 campaign.
Tight ends coach Freddie Whittingham acknowledged that Kuithe didn’t score any TDs last fall but he also pointed out that he still provided a lot for the offense last season.
“Sometimes the production is tied to touchdowns. Last year he didn’t have a touchdown but he still averaged five catches a game. He was the leading tight end in receptions in the Pac-12,” he said. “I would argue that he did have a productive year last year. He just didn’t score a lot of touchdowns.”
“I expect him to get a little bit bigger, a little bit stronger and a little bit faster. When he’s healthy, as we’ve seen, he’s a handful. He’s hard to scheme for because he can do so much.” — Freddie Whittingham on Brant Kuithe
Freddie Whittingham expects Kuithe to be even better next season.
“With Brant coming back, this would be his senior year if it weren’t for the COVID carryover of an additional year of eligibility,” he said. “I expect him to get a little bit bigger, a little bit stronger and a little bit faster. When he’s healthy, as we’ve seen, he’s a handful. He’s hard to scheme for because he can do so much.
“I expect him to improve his run-blocking. I expect him to improve in every facet of his game. That’s the kind of guy he is. He always wants to get better. He’s ultra-competitive,” Whittingham continued. “He wears his heart on his sleeve. I expect him to be a big-time playmaker in this offense within the scheme of how we do things.
“We’ve got a lot of talent on offense. We have a lot of potential weapons and we’ve got to spread the ball around and make sure that we put them in positions to make the type of plays we’ve seen them make in the past. I expect big things, not just this season out of Brant — I expect big things every single practice.”
After a season heavily impacted by the pandemic, Kuithe is eager awaiting a return to normalcy in the fall.
“I’m looking forward to us playing because five games wasn’t enough,” he said. “I’m excited for the fans to get back to the stadium and we can rock the U.”