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Linebacker Levani Damuni returning to Utah in 2024

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Utah linebacker Levani Damuni celebrates during game against the Arizona State Sun Devils in Salt Lake City, Nov. 4, 2023.

Utah Utes linebacker Levani Damuni celebrates after Utah Utes cornerback Miles Battle’s interception, that call was later overturned, during the game against the Arizona State Sun Devils at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City on Saturday, Nov. 4, 2023.

Megan Nielsen, Deseret News

Utah linebacker Levani Damuni announced his return to the team on Tuesday night, bolstering next year’s linebackers room.

After a four-year career at Stanford, where he was team captain, Damuni — who led the Cardinal with 79 tackles last season — transferred to Utah for the 2023 season in part to be closer to his family.

Damuni played in all 12 games this season, starting six, including five consecutive to close the season after Lander Barton’s season-ending injury at USC.

“Week by week he’s gotten better. You can see his play increase, his production increase and nothing but good things coming from him. And I think he’s gaining more and more confidence every week. I think that’s the biggest thing,” linebackers coach Colton Swan said of Damuni this month.

He had eight tackles in the season-opener vs. Florida and nine tackles in his first start at Baylor. Since becoming the full-time starter for the Oregon game, has had double-digit tackles in four of the last five games.

Should Karene Reid choose to come back for his senior season, Utah’s linebacker group will have a lot of experience returning. Reid is a three-year starter with 59 tackles, an interception and four pass breakups in 2023. Barton clearly made a leap from his freshman to sophomore season, starting every game he played in, totaling 34 tackles, two interceptions, two pass breakups and a forced fumble before suffering a season-ending injury.