We’re still 133 days away from Utah football’s 2022 season opener at Florida, but it’s never too early to look forward to the start of college football season.
With the conclusion of spring practices, ESPN recently updated its way-too-early Top 25 rankings, and Utah moved up three spots to No. 4.
“If the Utes are going to repeat as Pac-12 champions, they’re going to have to rebuild a defense that lost many of its top playmakers, including All-American linebacker Devin Lloyd. Lander Barton, an early enrollee and younger brother of NFL players Cody and Jackson Barton, has made quite an impression on coach Kyle Whittingham this spring,” ESPN’s Mark Schlabach wrote.
“Mohamoud Diabate, a Florida transfer, couldn’t do much this spring after having surgery for a torn labrum. After injuries decimated the secondary a year ago, the Utes are trying to build depth, especially after Vonte Davis and safety Brandon McKinney left.”
Utah, the 2021 Pac-12 champions, returns key pieces from last season, including quarterback Cam Rising, tight ends Brant Kuithe and Dalton Kincaid, running back Tavion Thomas, cornerback Clark Phillips III and safety Cole Bishop.
Utah also added the second-best rated recruiting class in the history of the program this offseason and added former Florida linebacker Mohamoud Diabate through the transfer portal.
After 10 wins in 2021, BYU checks in at No. 19 in the rankings.
“Coming off back-to-back seasons with 10 victories and entering their final one as an independent, the Cougars bring back almost everyone who was a big contributor in 2021. In fact, BYU will return 88% of its production, according to ESPN’s Bill Connelly, and that ranks second in the FBS,” Schlabach wrote.
“If the Cougars can keep quarterback Jaren Hall healthy and find a capable replacement for Tyler Allgeier, who left for the NFL, they’ll be poised for another campaign with 10 wins or more. One concern: BYU’s schedule next season includes home games against Baylor and Arkansas, road games versus Oregon, Boise State and Stanford and a contest with Notre Dame in Las Vegas.”
Quarterback Jaren Hall is back, as are receivers Puka Nacua and Gunner Romney. Almost all of BYU’s defense is back, including star linebackers Payton Wilgar and Keenan Pili, who are set to return from injury.
The Cougars return 97% of their defensive production, according to ESPN’s Bill Connelly.
Alabama is ranked No. 1 in the updated way-too-early Top 25 rankings, followed by Ohio State and 2022 national champion Georgia. USC checks in at No. 12 and Oregon is slotted at No. 16.