Utah freshman Lander Barton, the younger brother of former Utes Cody and Jackson Barton, has impressed the coaches this spring. 

The Brighton High product has been getting reps with the first-team defense. 

“When you consider that he should still be in high school right now, it’s pretty amazing what he’s doing, but it’s no surprise. He has all the tools,” said coach Kyle Whittingham.

“When we recruited him, we felt like we knew exactly what we were getting. He’s 6-4 and 230 pounds and runs really well. There’s nothing that’s surprising us, but it’s pretty impressive what he’s doing at such an early stage.”

Barton’s sister, Dani Drews, was a two-time All-American for the Utah volleyball team. 

The Bartons’ mother, Mikki Kane-Barton, is a member of the Crimson Club Hall of Fame, a two-time honorable mention All-America basketball player and she also played volleyball for the Utes.

Their father, Paul, played football and baseball at Utah. 

“I don’t know that it puts more pressure on him,” Whittingham said of expectations for Lander Barton.

“We certainly try not to. The mom is the best athlete in the whole family. His sister is really good, but Mikki was fabulous.”

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Last weekend, Utah held a scrimmage at Rice-Eccles Stadium with 120 live reps.

“It was a complete, thorough workday. That work is invaluable. That’s where you get your best evaluations and indication of where these guys are at,” Whittingham said.

“It was a very good scrimmage overall. We still have a lot of work to do but some guys are really starting to show up — (running back) Jaylen Glover, (linebacker) Lander Barton, (linebacker) Justin Medlock. A lot of the younger guys are starting to make their presence known.”

Next Saturday, the Utes wrap up spring practices with a scrimmage at Rice-Eccles Stadium. 


The Utes have a few cornerbacks, JaTravis Broughton, Faybian Marks and Zemaiah Vaughn, recovering from injury this spring. 

Defensive coordinator Morgan Scalley likes what he’s seeing from younger players such as Caine Savage, Elisha Lloyd and Drew Rawls. 

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“Some of these younger guys are getting all these reps. Clark Phillips continues to impress and improve,” Scalley said.

“We won’t know until fall camp what that depth is going to look like because those guys are out right now. We’ll add a couple to the mix and we still may end up adding a (transfer) portal guy as well. That’s the area that, if you’re saying, ‘What’s keeping you up at night?’ That’s it right now.”

Peppins in transfer portal

Freshman wide receiver Ryan Peppins has reportedly entered the transfer portal. 

Earlier in the week, Whittingham said that the 5-foot-8, 147-pounder from Birmingham, Alabama, was not at practice because he was “taking care of issues. Personal things going on, but we think he’s got a bright future. We’ll see how he progresses.”

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