Why Utah cornerbacks coach Sharrieff Shah is so confident despite the departure of Clark Phillips III
The Utes have a lot of solid cornerbacks — and they’re bringing in more this summer
Utah cornerbacks coach Sharrieff Shah is losing Clark Phillips III, a unanimous All-America selection and an NFL fourth-round draft pick.
“I’m seeing Zemaiah play with a level of confidence that we expected to show up in the middle of last year but started to come along at the right time as the year progressed.” — Utah DBs coach Sharrieff Shah
But the Utes have a lot of solid cornerbacks on the roster — and they’re bringing in more this summer.
Ole Miss transfer Miles Battle participated in spring practices and is fitting in well, Shah said.
Meanwhile, returning corners JaTravis Broughton and Zemaiah Vaughn give Utah experience in the secondary.
“Not only depth but confidence in the scheme,” Shah said. “You’re starting to see a little bit of leadership from JaTravis Broughton, who was having a phenomenal spring and he got dinged up a little bit that kept him out of a few practices. His off-man coverage has been so much better. I’m seeing him playing off-man better.
“I’m seeing Zemaiah play with a level of confidence that we expected to show up in the middle of last year but started to come along at the right time as the year progressed.”
Then there are what Shah calls the “young kids” at corner, including Tao Johnson, Elijah Davis and Kenzel Lawler.
Lawler tore a ligament in his hand and missed much of spring drills, Shah said.
“He’s been with us for a while. I was so excited about the plays that he made, the physicality that he showed. That wasn’t his forte,” Shah said about Lawler. “I recruited him out of California as a quarterback. It took some time to have the willingness to hit somebody. You started to see it this spring. What I’m most happy about this spring is, so many players are starting to rise and you get comfortable saying, ‘OK, God, thank you for getting us to this stage.’ If the worst should happen, I think we’ll be OK. I think our second- and third-string can hold up and be really, really good. We haven’t said that in a long, long time.”
Broughton, Vaughn and Miles are battling for the two cornerback spots, along with Lawler and the two freshmen who are expected to arrive on campus in the summer — CJ Blocker and Smith Snowden.
“One of those two will have to play,” Shah said about Blocker and Snowden. “We’ll have to dedicate one on the outside. If we had to play tomorrow, those four guys would be in the mix — Kenzel, (Broughton), Zemaiah and Miles. All fighting for the No. 1 and No. 2 spots.”