SALT LAKE CITY — What offseason? The Utah football program has been busy at work adding depth and talent to an already talented roster looking to return to the Pac-12 title game for the 2021 season.
In a two-day period, Utah has added three new players to its roster from the transfer portal.
After a depletion to its wide receiver room earlier in the year with Bryan Thompson and Samson Nacua transferring out, Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham said he'd be looking to the transfer portal in the offseason to add depth to the roster at receiver.
On Thursday afternoon, Whittingham made that possible when the program added Theo Howard, a former Oklahoma and UCLA receiver, who should add instant talent to the pool of players vying for a starting role this season. Howard joins the program as a "super senior" after spending his senior season at Oklahoma. He has one year to play.
Prior to the 2020 season with Oklahoma, where Howard accounted for only 163 yards on 13 catches, the former four-star recruit out of high school played for three seasons at UCLA. The 6-foot receiver has talent to play on the inside and outside, but has struggled with injuries in his four previous years of college.
Still, if Utah can keep Howard healthy, he should provide an instant threat in the receiving game to complement players like Britain Covey, Solomon Enis, and Devaugn Vele, among others.
Later Thursday night, Utah picked up the commitment from former Washington linebacker Josh Calvert, brother to incoming freshman Ethan Calvert. He joins a long list of linebackers that have recently joined the program.
Josh Calvert has spent two seasons at Washington but redshirted his first season due to injury and then didn't play in 2020. Calvert joins Utah with four years to play four due. The NCAA put a pause to eligibility due to the pandemic disrupting the 2020 season.
On Wednesday, Utah also secured a commitment from former Washington safety Brandon McKinney. The 6-foot safety was considered one of the top safety prospects in the transfer portal this offseason and will add depth to a still relatively inexperience backfield on the defense. McKinney is the early favorite to line up next to Vonte Davis as the 2021 season kicks off later this year.
McKinney, who was recruited by Utah out of high school, played four seasons as Washington before declaring his intent to transfer this year. In his four years at Washington, McKinney had 40 total tackles, one pass defended and one forced fumble. He, too, has one year to play at Utah.
Utah has put a premium on bringing players in that can have an instant impact to its roster as the team looks to return to the Pac-12 title game a year removed from its last appearance. Utah has secured several players from the transfer portal this offseason, including at quarterback and running back, as the team looks to provide experience and depth in all facets of its game.