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It will be a new-look cornerback group for the Utes with attrition draining experience

Early NFL departures and graduation has left Utah short on experience

Clark Phillips III, shown here running with the ball while playing for La Habra High School in California, signed a Letter of Intent with the University of Utah on Thursday, Dec. 19, 2019.
Courtesy Paul Luna

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah’s secondary will have a whole new look in 2020.

At cornerback, the Utes are moving forward without players that were on the field for 98% of the snaps last season. Jaylon Johnson and Javelin Guidry have left a year early for the NFL, while Tareke Lewis and Josh Nurse have completed their eligibility. The four finished with a combined 126 tackles, 30 pass breakups and four interceptions in 2019.

Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said the situation should make things “very, very competitive out there” as the Utes fill the vacancies. Although there’s little experience in the program, he said there’s a lot of talent.

Highly touted newcomer Clark Phillips III is already enrolled at Utah. The former California prep star flipped a commitment to Ohio State and signed with the Utes.

“Just watch,” Whittingham said. “Just watch Clark. He’s really good.”

Phillips is a bit shorter than Johnson, a projected first-or second-round draft pick, but Whittingham acknowledged the four-star signee can stand tall and be like his predecessor.

“We’ll see,” said Whittingham, who added that Phillips is built like Charles Atlas and is “yoked up.”

Phillips (La Habra HS, California) is part of a group of freshmen cornerbacks that includes Kenzel Lawler (Eleanor Roosevelt HS, California), Faybian Marks (George Ranch HS, Texas), and Caine Savage (Western HS, California).

Whittingham said the group is “pretty special.” They’ll compete with several others for playing time.

Bronson Boyd is the lone junior in the group. He made three tackles last season, but played in all 14 games on special teams. Whittingham said the former receiver has progressed as a defensive back. So, too, has JaTravis Broughton. The sophomore made eight tackles and had an interception against Idaho State.

To bulk things up at cornerback, sophomore Aaron Lowe and redshirt freshman Drew Rawls have been moved over from safety.