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Losing Brant Kuithe is big ‘big blow’ to Utah’s offense; who will step up in his place?

Kuithe’s versatility has caused headaches for opponents, as he’s been moved all over the field, creating mismatches

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Utah tight end Brant Kuithe catches a pass before the start of a game against San Diego State Sept. 17, 2022, in Salt Lake.

Utah tight end Brant Kuithe catches a pass before the start of a game against San Diego State Saturday, Sept. 17, 2022, in Salt Lake City. Kuithe suffered a knee injury during Utes victory over Arizona State last Saturday and is lost for the season.

Rick Bowmer, Associated Press

Since 2018, speedy and sure-handed tight end Brant Kuithe has been one of Utah’s most productive and dynamic weapons.

His versatility has caused headaches for opposing defensive coordinators, as he’s been moved all over the field, creating mismatches.

“He’s a great leader and a great person. It breaks your heart to see something like that happen to a senior.” — Utah coach Kyle Whittingham on losing Brant Kuithe for the season

In 51 games, the 6-foot-2, 219-pound senior from Katy, Texas, has 148 receptions for 1,882 yards and 16 touchdowns. He’s also rushed 17 times for 162 yards and four TDs during his career. 

A three-time All-Pac-12 performer, Kuithe earned second-team all-conference honors in 2019, 2020 and 2021. His 148 catches are the most by a Utah tight end since at least 1996. He ranks eighth overall in school history in receptions.

This season, Kuithe leads the team in catches (19) and is No. 2 in receiving yards (206), and he has scored three touchdowns.

But on the final play of the first quarter of the Utes’ 34-13 win at Arizona State last Saturday, Kuithe caught a pass near the sideline and went down awkwardly as he was tackled; he did not return to the game and was seen on crutches on the sidelines.

On Monday, coach Kyle Whittingham announced that Kuithe has suffered a season-ending injury.

“The big downer from the game (last Saturday) was Brant Kuithe,” he said. “He’s lost for the season. That’s a big blow for our offense. He was a huge part of what we do offensively. … We’ll miss him. He’s a great leader and a great person. It breaks your heart to see something like that happen to a senior.”

Whittingham described it as a “lower leg injury.”

Some were surprised that Kuithe didn’t declare for the NFL draft after last season. But he wanted to come back to help Utah win another Pac-12 championship

Because Kuithe’s injury happened in the fourth game, he could return for another season. 

“The silver lining, if there is one, he’s inside the four games to redshirt. He does have a redshirt year,” Whittingham said. “So if he chooses, and wants the opportunity to come back next season, that’s available to him.”

Fortunately for the Utes, they have another stellar tight end in senior Dalton Kincaid, who caught two touchdown passes against Arizona State. Kincaid has 16 receptions for 240 yards and four TDs this season. 

Utah tight end Thomas Yassmin walks off the field after game against Florida on Sept. 3, 2022 in Gainesville, Fla. Florida.

Utah tight end Thomas Yassmin walks off the field after game against Florida on Saturday, Sept. 3, 2022 in Gainesville, Fla. Florida. Yassmin, who caught a 72-yard pass against Arizona State, will take on a bigger role in the Utes’ offense as a result of Kuithe’s injury.

Gary McCullough, Associated Press

Quarterback Cam Rising knows that he’ll be counting on Kincaid more than ever. 

“He’s going to be the No. 1 guy inside,” he said. “We’re going to be looking for him to produce. He’s going to have a great amount of production because of it.”

Utah will also be counting on Thomas Yassmin and Munir McClain to help compensate for Kuithe’s absence. Yassmin caught a 72-yard pass against Arizona State. 

“With Brant Kuithe out, we’re going to have to have some guys step up. Dalton Kincaid’s role becomes even bigger. He’s already a big part of the offense,” Whittingham said. “Thomas Yassmin is really the guy that will take most of the reps that would be typically for Brant.”

Players’ injuries always take a toll on Whittingham.

“Injuries are the most unfortunate part of the sport. It’s the part of my job that I like the least, seeing these young men get hurt,” he said. “But we’ve just got to move forward. We’ve got a lot of football left. We’ve got two-thirds of the season left. We’ve got to figure out how to continue to score points and move the ball.”


Utes on the air

Oregon State (3-1, 0-1) at No. 12 Utah (3-1, 1-0) 

Saturday, noon MDT

Rice-Eccles Stadium 

TV: Pac-12 Network 

Radio: ESPN 700