One position where Utah has plenty of depth is at the tight end position.
“For sure,” said tight ends coach Freddie Whittingham. “We’ve got a couple of three-year starters back in Cole Fotheringham and Brant Kuithe. We added Dalton Kincaid last year as a transfer. He’s a very talented guy. Thomas Yassmin is back, healthy. And it goes on and on. Yes, definitely the deepest room I’ve had in the six years I’ve been here as tight ends coach.”
Kuithe, a 6-foot-2, 230-pound junior, is a two-time All-Pac-12 second-team tight end. He has played in 33 games and has recorded 79 receptions for 1,065 yards. In 2019, Kuithe led the team in catches (34), receiving yards (602) and receiving touchdowns (6), plus he rushed six times for 102 yards and three TDs.
Fotheringham, a 6-4, 243-pound junior, has caught 37 passes for 398 yards and three touchdowns during his career.
Whittingham said he challenged Fotheringham and Kuithe to get specific work done during the offseason to elevate their respective performances.
“For Cole, it was getting his shoulder healthy. He had offseason shoulder surgery so he had to rehab that and then also increasing his speed and explosiveness,” Whittingham said.
“For Brant, it was putting on a little bit of bulk. He’s going to be even more diverse in the offense playing various positions, so expanding his role even more. He’s already kind of a hybrid player but we’re going to move him all over the field so the defense doesn’t know where to defend him,” he added. “Both of them are juniors this year but really seniors with the COVID carryover year, it’s their fourth year starting in this program. The expectation is for them to be awesome leaders, too, to really show the way to the younger guys and bring the younger guys along with them.”
“Just doing everything we can to help this team win,” Kuithe said. “If it’s catching the ball or blocking or running the ball, whatever we need to do to create advantages. Cole has always been a good blocker. He can run routes, too. Dalton can run and block and do everything. He can stretch the field. We’re a versatile tight end room and I think it’s going to be a great year for us.”
Kuithe said he’s been honing his game during the offseason.
“Just blocking-wise, route-running,” he said. “Looking at different things I can maximize and find an advantage on the field.”
Within the offense, Kuithe is looking forward to being versatile by lining up all over the field.
“I look at it as an opportunity to show what I can do. I think it’s great to be in a position where they move me around a lot,” he said. “I’m looking forward to it. This year I’m going to be in a lot of different places that I wasn’t in last year.”
Kincaid transferred to Utah last year from the University of San Diego. Yassmin hails from Sydney, Australia.
“Dalton has more familiarity with the offense now. It’s his second full year. He’s a really talented guy. You saw him make plays at the University of San Diego at the FCS level. He was an All-American. He led the FCS in touchdowns for tight ends. We’ve got to find ways to get them all involved and get them the ball,” Whittingham said. “Thomas Yassmin is a phenomenal, physical talent. He’s tall, fast, big, strong. He’s caught on quite a bit. He never played football before he got here. He was a rugby player. I expect big things out of him this year, too, because his development has come along quite a bit.”
Another young talent that Whittingham said has a strong upside is Isaac Vaha, a 6-6, 272-pound freshman out of Pleasant Grove High.
“Isaac has tremendous size. He’s the biggest tight end we have and he’s a true freshman, 18 years old. He’s 6-6, 270 pounds. The key with Isaac is going to be getting his fitness level up, getting him in shape, working on his fundamentals and technique,” Whittingham said. “Whether it’s this year or down the road, I definitely see him as a promising guy that’s going to help us out for sure. Especially at the line of scrimmage with his size, his strength and his ability to be a run-blocker. He’s also athletic. He was a great basketball player in high school. He shows that, his ability to move in space and his ball skills. As he develops in the program, he’s going to be special.”
Yes, Utah has depth at tight end and it appears to be well-stocked for years to come.