While Utah's secondary was plagued with injury late this last season, the group has had plenty of time to recover and are on track to be one of the best units in the Pac-12 Conference.
With that being said, its important to note where each individual player ranks amongst the rest of the talent, and what their contributions may look like for the 2022 season.
After seeing more action last year than ever before, Malone Mataele stepped into the nickel spot and orchestrated a respectable 2022 campaign. For the year, Mataele finished with 28 total tackles, one interception and two pass break-ups in 11 games with five starts. Most notably, Mataele's first and only interception on the season was pivotal in the Pac-12 Championship as it came right before the half and set the Utes up for an additional three points to widen the lead.
During the spring, Mataele was mentioned by multiple coaches as having an impressive camp and should be on track to increase his impact for the defense. As someone who has benefitted from the eligibility freeze, the soon to be junior (joined the program in 2018) has taken full advantage of that in order to develop his talents.
Overall, Mataele is the perfect fit for the nickel position with his quick feet and enthusiasm to be physical. With the way he analyzes the game and utilizes his athleticism to make plays, a little more time on the field will allow him to become even more comfortable in his role and a top-tier defender of the secondary.
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