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Football season is still about six months away but there’s plenty of football happening on campus.

Utah’s spring practices are entering their second week, and the Utes also held pro day last week.

At pro day, linebacker Devin Lloyd, projected as a first-round NFL draft pick, didn’t participate because he was at the NFL scouting combine in February. But he was there to support his former teammates.

“I didn’t want to go out and risk anything. So I just made the smart decision and decided not to do anything,” Lloyd said. “For what I did in-season and at the combine too, that was enough to do what I want to do in the draft.”

For the first time in a couple of years, there isn’t a battle for the starting quarterback job because of Cam Rising, an All-Pac-12 First Team selection from last season. But there is a battle for the backup QB job between Ja’Quinden Jackson and walk-on Bryson Barnes.

Meanwhile, the Utes are preparing to defend their Pac-12 championship.

“We’re the champions coming back. We’re not going to sneak up on anybody,” said coach Kyle Whittingham. “There’s a lot of good teams in the (Pac-12) South. We’ve just got to go about our business like we usually do. We don’t have that under-the-radar feel to us this year.”

The Utes are also breaking in a couple of new assistant coaches, including defensive tackles coach Luther Elliss.

Meanwhile, Utah is strengthening talent and depth, evidenced by a commitment from former Illinois State safety Clayton Isbell.

Numbers game

3: Number of interceptions last season at Illinois State by new safety commit Clayton Isbell.

4.43: Britain Covey’s time in the 40-yard dash at pro day.

9: Projected first-round draft pick spot for Utah linebacker Devin Lloyd according to Cam Mellor of Pro Football Network.

From the archives

Related
Can Utah be a serious College Football Playoff contender this season?
Utah Utes receive commitment from 4-star Mississippi quarterback Mack Howard

Extra points

  • From pig farming to pigskins to Pasadena — Bryson Barnes looks back on his Rose Bowl moment (Deseret News)
  • Which former Utes helped their draft stock at pro day? (Deseret News)
  • Britain Covey’s pro day cleats pay tribute to ‘undersized heroes’ (Deseret News)
  • ‘It’s time to upgrade’: Utah’s Kyle Whittingham excited about approval of a new indoor facility (Deseret News)
  • Which NCAA gymnastics teams are national title contenders? (Deseret News)
  • ‘It’s a huge blessing’: New Utah D-line coach Luther Elliss glad to be back at his alma mater (Deseret News)

Fanalyst

Comments from Deseret News readers

“Should be a very fun Spring, very important pieces need to be replaced and the team needs to find the same type of motivation that they had last year (which won’t be easy) however any talk of a CFP run should just be put down (I know us fans will talk about it and this is only my opinion) however the only goal should be to win the 1st game and then go (from) there, good luck to all the young guys fighting for playing time and Go Utes.”

— packers

“I think the Utes will be tough if they get the secondary sorted out, find an okay punter and fix the special teams debacle. Utah has got to stay healthy along the CB and O-line groups, along with Bad Moon running the show. The game at Florida to open the season looms large and pretty much is a MUST WIN for Utah’s national street cred if a CFP appearance is in the cards during conference play. The Utes have some tough games, but I see 10-2 as entirely possible this year with a NY6 game. Gooooooo Utes!”

— Utah-Hawaii Alum

Up next

March 31 | 8 p.m. | Gymnastics | NCAA Regional 2nd Round | @Seattle | Pac-12 Network

April 1 | 4 p.m. | Baseball | vs. Washington State | @Pullman, Washington

April 1 | 7 p.m. | Softball | vs. Stanford | @Stanford | Pac-12 Network

April 2 | 3 p.m. | Baseball | vs. Washington State | @Pullman, Washington

April 2 | 3 p.m. | Softball | vs. Stanford | @Stanford, California | Pac-12 Network

April 3 | 2 p.m. | Baseball | vs. Washington State | @Pullman, Washington

April 3 | 3 p.m. | Softball | vs. Stanford | @Stanford | Pac-12 Network