Utah’s offensive line is down two starters with left tackle Braeden Daniels preparing for the NFL draft and center Paul Maile transferring to BYU.

But the Utes have a lot of talent and depth returning on the offensive line.

This program is not for everybody. But they’re going to get better and they’re going to survive and they’re going to develop into offensive linemen that are high-level players.” — Utah offensive line coach Jim Harding

“Really good depth on the O line. We’ve got 15-16 scholarship guys that we think are really good,” said coach Kyle Whittingham. “We should come away with a solid 10 guys, which is ideal — 10 guys you feel good about going into the season. That’s our goal.”

Three starters return — left guard Keaton Bills, right guard Michael Mokofisi and right tackle Sataoa Laumea.

“We have really good depth this year. We have three guys — Keaton, Mokofisi, Sataoa — that got a big body of work in games. But there’s another handful of guys that have played minimally in games but have the opportunity to help us this year,” said offensive line coach Jim Harding. “What’s going to be big for those guys is, everything you put on tape is a resume.

“Every rep they take, it’s about being coachable, doing the right things, can you be trusted to be fundamentally and mentally sound so that in the environments we play in on Saturdays, are they going to be able to do what we ask them to do? 

“Offensive line play boils down to physicality and can you do what we’re asking you to do and still be physical? Or is there a mental hurdle there? Are they not physical enough?” Harding added. “All those things combined will give us a body of work that when we leave at the end of April, we’ll have more information on guys like Zereoue Williams, Falcon Kaumatule, Tanoa Togiai and Kolinu’u Faaiu.

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“Guys that have been in the program that we feel that can do it but now, their time has come. Which of those guys are going to step up and separate themselves from the rest of the group?”

Others in the O-line room include Jaren Kump, Spencer Fano, Solatoa Moeai, Hunter Deuel, Johnny Maea and Keith Olson. 

Harding was asked about how much better the depth is now compared to when he arrived at Utah in 2014. 

“It’s a credit to the kids that went before them. There is a draw to come play on the offensive line at Utah. That has been developed from my first year. Jeremiah Poutasi was a third-round draft pick. Then Isaac Asiata and J.J. Dielman,” he said. “The foundation that they laid and the evaluation process that we go through is thorough. That’s not just offensive coaches. A number of these kids have been initially identified by defensive coaches and ultimately signed off on by coach Whitt.

“It’s a program-wide compliment in terms of how we go about recruiting. We’re not about chasing stars. We want to find guys that fit our program that we feel is going to be tough. This program is not for everybody. But they’re going to get better and they’re going to survive and they’re going to develop into offensive linemen that are high-level players. It’s not necessarily me. It’s a collection.”

Utah offensive linemen Jaren Kump (68), Paul Maile (54), Keaton Bills (51) and Braeden Daniels (71) prepare to block in front of quarterback Bryson Barnes (16) during game against Washington State, Thursday, Oct. 27, 2022, in Pullman, Wash. Kump and Bills are among the offensive linemen back for the 2023 season. | Young Kwak, Associated Press