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Tight end Brant Kuithe returning to Utah in 2024

After Utah quarterback Cam Rising announced his return to the university for the 2024 season on Nov. 19, another Utah offensive star is coming back for one more season

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Utah Utes tight end Brant Kuithe hands a fan a signed ball.

Utah Utes tight end Brant Kuithe (80) hands a fan a signed ball before Utah played the Penn Sate Nittany Lions in the 109th Rose Bowl in Pasadena on Jan. 2, 2023.

Ben B. Braun, Deseret News

After Utah quarterback Cam Rising announced his return to the university for the 2024 season on Nov. 19, another Ute offensive star is officially coming back for one more season.

Utah tight end Brant Kuithe is returning for the 2024 season, he announced on social media.

The Utes get back a key piece, and a favorite target of Rising’s, for Utah first season in the Big 12.

The 6-foot-2, 229-pound tight end has 148 receptions for 1,882 yards yards and 16 touchdowns over his career at Utah.

“He’s so productive. He’s battle-tested and a proven commodity. He’s a big-play guy. He’s a threat after the catch and great hands,” Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said in 2022. “He’s a good blocker. He’s not the biggest guy but he can do everything we need him to do in the blocking game. ... But he’s a guy that’s a big-play capability guy that’s made a ton of plays for us over the last three years.”

Kuithe has proved to be invaluable in Andy Ludwig’s offense. Look for the Utah offensive coordinator to pair him with Landen King in two tight end sets — à la Dalton Kincaid and Kuithe in 2021 — next season.

“We’re able to use him in multiple formations and in multiple ways in the throw game. Brant probably doesn’t get enough recognition as a blocker too. I know he is not your traditionally sized tight end, but he does have a lot of want to in run blocking as well,” tight ends coach Freddie Whittingham said.

2024 will be Kuithe’s seventh overall season at Utah. With the free COVID-19 year in 2020, a redshirt in the 2022 season (Kuithe played in only four games before suffering a season-ending injury), plus a medical redshirt for the 2023 season, the star tight end will have one remaining year of eligibility.

Kuithe played his last full season in 2021, hauling in 50 receptions for 611 yards and six touchdowns to lead Utah in receiving yards. The veteran tight end had 206 yards on 19 catches in 2022 before tearing his ACL and meniscus on Sept. 24, 2022, against Arizona State.

“He’s got a lot on the line for this year if he wants to play in the league (NFL). He’s been out of football for almost two full seasons, and when you’re out of sight, you’re out of mind with the NFL personnel,” Freddie Whittingham said. “He needs to probably reestablish himself a little bit in that area as a true prospect, which with the knee being healthy and with his motivation, I think he should pick up where he left off.”

Kuithe, who had surgery to repair his ACL and meniscus in October 2022, suffered a setback that cost him the 2023 season. He developed a cyclops lesion on his ACL, which wasn’t allowing him to get complete strength back after surgery, then had clean-up surgery to remove it.

“Ended up getting the surgery … and then after that it’s been literally night and day difference as far as how my knee feels,” Kuithe said on ESPN 700 in October of this season.

He decided to shut it down for the 2023 season to get back to 100% health before returning to the football field.

“Knowing that I can be fully healthy now just kind of makes me feel way better,” Kuithe said.