With a new coach, returning leaders and transfer additions, Utah’s wide receivers look to take next step

With a new position coach, two retuning leaders and transfer portal additions, Utah’s wide receiver group is looking to take the next step after making strides in 2022.
Over the past two seasons with quarterback Cameron Rising at the helm, Utah has finished in the top five in total receiving yards in the Pac-12. In 2021, the Utes had 3,000 receiving yards and in 2022, Utah had 3,489. It was a jump from previous years, when the Utes were a primarily run-first offense.
The tight ends have always been the favorite target for Rising. In 2021, Brant Kuithe and Dalton Kincaid combined for 1,121 yards, with receiver Britain Covey accounting for 514.
Kincaid had 890 yards in 2022, but receivers Devaughn Vele and Money Parks stepped up with 695 yards and 414 yards, respectively.
Utah’s wide receivers room is looking to take the next step under new wide receivers coach Alvis Whitted.
A nine-year NFL veteran with the Oakland Radiers and Jacksonville Jaguars, Whitted also had a stint as the Green Bay Packers’ wide receivers coach in 2019 and led the position group for Wisconsin from 2020 to 2022.
Vele said that the new coach’s NFL experience is already making an impact on him and the other wide recovers.
“Oh, it’s amazing having that NFL experience, both playing as a player and as a coach. He just helps us understand things,” Vele said.
Entering his fifth year with the program, Vele said that he knows the playbook “like the back of his hand,” but Whitted has made a difference in his knowledge of coverages.
“... It’s one of those things like the game slows down because now I understand the coverages. I know what the defense is doing, I understand where the zones and soft spots are now and he helps me understand that,” Vele said.
“So it’s great having that veteran leadership and him having that NFL experience as well. He knows how to talk to us.”
In Vele (695 yards, 55 receptions) and Parks (414 yards, 26 receptions), Utah’s two leading receivers from last season are back.
Parks had a breakout year, with his best game of the season coming against USC in the Pac-12 championship when he had a career-high 88 receiving yards, including a 57-yard touchdown.
“I love what Money’s done. I think he’s probably had the best offseason for a lot of our guys. He’s gotten faster, stronger and he’s studying,” Whitted said.
The Utes hit the transfer portal to shore up the group, adding seniors Mycah Pittman from Florida State and Emery Simmons from Indiana.
Pittman, who played at Oregon before transferring to FSU, had 330 yards on 32 receptions, scoring three touchdowns, and also handled punt returns, ranking 15th in the nation in yards per return with 9.4.
Utah coach Kyle Whittingham mentioned that Pittman had been returning punts at Monday’s opening practice.
Mycah Pittman looked really good today. He’s got a good skill set, soft hands catching punts, excellent hands out of the slot on offense,” Whittingham said.
Pittman could be a slot receiver, filling a Britain Covey-type role, Vele said.
Whittingham also singled out Simmons, who had 408 yards on 37 catches and a touchdown for Indiana last season, as having a good day,
Those two transfers helped beef up Utah’s thin wide receiver room and should be in the rotation this fall.
Freshman Mikey Matthews, who impressed Utah coaches in the spring, should also be a part of that rotation.
“I feel like this camp is all what it’s all about. It’s their opportunity to embrace and take the reps that they get and the opportunities they get and maximize them to the best of their ability and really see where it goes from there,” Whitted said.
As the group looks to make a bigger impact this season, Whitted broke down what he wants to see from his players in his first season in charge.
“It’s all about No. 1, having an attack mindset, being detail oriented, being intentional about our position,” Whitted said.
“Our position’s about balance, efficiency, timing, being detailed in your routes, being explosive. Just so many different things, but I just want to focus on the fundamentals of our position for our guys and help give them tools to be able to go out and win.”

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