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The Lowdown: 2020 Secondary

Oct 20, 2020

Throughout fall camp, UtahUtes.com will feature "The Lowdown" on each position group on the field.

THE LOWDOWN
The Utes continue to pump out NFL talent at the cornerback and safety positions with the entire starting lineup from 2019 being taken in the NFL Draft or signing as a free agent. Like many positions on the defensive side of the ball, Utah will assemble a brand new secondary that will be a mix of highly recruited newcomers and redshirts who are ready to step into the spotlight.  

CORNERBACK HEADLINERS RETURNING
Junior Bronson Boyd and sophomores JaTravis Broughton and Malone Mataele saw time as reserves at cornerback in 2019, seeing most of their action on special teams. Through nine days of fall camp, the trio have proved that they are ready and willing to step into the spotlight as another crop of talented cornerbacks.

CORNERBACK PRE-CAMP DEPTH CHART

LC Athlete GP/GS
8 Bronson Boyd (6-0, 187, Jr.) 23/1
3 Drew Rawls (6-0, 188, R-Fr.) 4/0
RC Athlete GP/GS
4 JaTravis Broughton (5-11, 190, So.) 14/0
23 Faybian Marks (5-10, 185, Fr.) 0/0
NB Athlete GP/GS
15 Malone Mataele (5-11, 185, So.) 11/0
21 Clark Phillips III (5-10, 191, Fr.)       OR 0/0
2 Aaron Lowe (6-0, 188, So.) 11/0

COACH KYLE WHITTINGHAM SAYS
"Our secondary was one of the strongest units on our team last year with all five starters now on NFL rosters. That being said, there is a great opportunity for our young players to step up and contribute right away. Mid-year enrollee Clark Phillips III was able to get a head start on the group and showed tremendous potential in a shortened spring session. The young talent we had in backup roles a year ago will now have their opportunity to earn starting jobs at both cornerback and nickel back."

SAFETY HEADLINERS RETURNING
Senior Vonte Davis and junior R.J. Hubert will return to the safety group as the only returners who saw action at the position last season. The duo has been competing with a group of newcomers in fall camp that will give the Utah safety position a combination of speed, strength and size.

SAFETY PRE-CAMP DEPTH CHART

FS Athlete GP/GS
10 R.J. Hubert (6-0, 195, Jr.) 20/3
13 Kamo'i Latu (6-3, 190, Fr.)              OR 0/0
16 Zemaiah Vaughn (6-2, 175, Fr.) 0/0
SS Athlete GP/GS
19 Vonte Davis (6-0, 190, Sr.) 28/0
6 Nate Ritchie (6-2, 200, Fr.) 0/0

COACH KYLE WHITTINGHAM SAYS
"Safety is another position where newcomers will be counted on to make an immediate impact, with both starters from 2019 being selected in the third round of the NFL draft. Vonte Davis is the most experienced of the group and we have incoming freshmen who have the potential to play right away. Ben Renfro enrolled in January, and fellow signees Nate Ritchie and Kamo'i Latu came in this summer and will have the opportunity to acclimate quickly and compete."

QUICK HITS ON UTAH'S SECONDARY

8 :: Bronson Boyd :: Cornerback :: Arlington, Texas
Has played in 23 games as a Ute, starting his career as a wide receiver before moving to defense in 2019 … played in all 14 games in 2019, spearing on defense in three games … saw action in nine games at receiver with a start against Washington in 2018 which included a 25-yard reception against NIU … transferred to Utah from Texas Tech.

4 :: JaTravis Broughton :: Cornerback :: Tulsa, Okla.
Played in all 14 games as a true freshman in 2019, seeing appearances as a backup cornerback in four games … notched an interception against Idaho State with a career-high three tackles coming against Colorado … all-state and a three-star recruit out of Union HS … standout track star in high school, winning state titles in the 4x100, 4x200 and 4x400 relays, also winning the 400 meter dash at the 2017 USATF National Youth Outdoor Championships.

15 :: Malone Mataele :: Nickel Back :: Placentia, Calif.
Redshirted in 2018 after playing in three games, getting extended reps in 2019 after seeing action in eight games with four appearances on defense … career-high three tackles against Oregon State in 2019 … three-star recruit out of high school, earning all-state, all-league and all-county … had 1,576 all-purpose yards as a senior.

21 :: Clark Phillips III :: Nickel Back :: Lakewood, Calif.
Four-star recruit out of La Habra HS, rated the No. 4 cornerback in the country by 247Sports … two-time All-CIF, Freeway League Player of the Year as a junior, also a two-time all-league selection … All-USA California first-team selection … two-way player in high school, finishing his senior year with 28 tackles (4 INT) and seven passes defended along with 30 receptions for 435 yards and 10 touchdowns.

10 :: R.J. Hubert :: Safety :: Logandale, Nev.
Saw significant action as a back-up safety in 2019, playing in 13 games with 10 appearances on defense and three starts … racked up 22 tackles, including a career-high seven against Washington State … also had six tackles against Idaho State and a forced fumble vs. Washington … played in seven games as a true freshman in 2018 … was the Nevada Division IA Offensive Player of the Year in 2015 before leaving on his church mission.

19 :: Vonte Davis :: Safety :: Rosenburg, Texas
Has played in every game the last two seasons (28 total) … played in all 14 games in 2019 with six appearances on defense … career-high five tackles against Idaho State in 2019, also recording an assisted TFL … also played in all 14 games in 2018 in his first season for Utah … transferred to the Utes from Blinn College where he was a second-team All-American, also earning first-team All-Southwest Junior College Football Conference.

6 :: Nate Ritchie :: Safety :: Cedar Hills, Utah
Rated the No. 4 recruit in the state of Utah out of high school … two-time first-team all-state … Region 4 Defensive MVP as a senior while earning back-to-back all-region selections … 2018 All-USA Utah Football team … put up large numbers his senior year with 51 total tackles (5.0 TFL, 1.0 sack), eight interceptions (3 TDs) and seven passes defended, adding four rushing TDs, one receiving touchdown, 44 made PATs and 11 made field goals.