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Utes countdown No. 18: Evan Moeai, Nygel King

Utes countdown No. 18: Evan Moeai, Nygel King

(Deseret News)



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SALT LAKE CITY — There’s 18 days until the Utes take the field at Rice-Eccles Stadium, which brings us to a veteran and a newcomer on the team who both wear No. 18 — senior Evan Moeai and freshman Nygel King.

Evan Moeai, senior, tight end

Like many other Utes, Moeai is an in-state product who comes to Utah from Mountain View High in Provo, while also making a stop at Snow College. He was expected to start at the tight end position last season, but he suffered a season-ending injury in the first game against Michigan. In that game, he made one catch for 5 yards before the injury occurred.

Moeai, who will be in his fourth season with the program, was given a medical extension to play for a sixth year since he spent two seasons with the Badgers before moving to Salt Lake City. For the Utes, it’s a good thing he received that extra year, as fellow tight end Siale Fakailoatonga was recently announced out for the season with a torn ACL.

According to KSL.com’s Josh Furlong, Moeai sits essentially tied atop the depth chart with Harrison Handley, who is Utah’s leading receiver from last season. But if Moeai can stay healthy, he will surely be a welcomed addition to this Utah offense, who at 6-2, 235 pounds, is a dangerous receiving threat at the tight end position.

Nygel King, freshman, defensive back

A three-star prospect by Scout.com from Texas, King commited to Utah last winter after holding as many as 14 offers, including from schools like Virginia Tech and in-state Houston, his original commitment. Though the Utes appear to be set in the secondary for the upcoming year, King will look to learn from some of the team’s top corners and could develop into a playmaker in a year or two.

Various outlets listed him in the 6-1 to 6-2 range, but his official Utah bio says he measures in at an even 6-0. Either way, he is a taller defensive back who will look to follow the example of former bigger Utes who have found success at that position and at the next level (Eric Rowe, Sean Smith).

In an injury-shortened senior season at Klein Oak High School, King still managed to be a District 15-6A All-State honorable mention after registering 40 tackles and two interceptions. You can catch his junior year highlights, his last full season, below.

Twitter: @GriffDoug

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