When Utah kicks off the 2020 college football season on Nov. 7 against Arizona, it's now clear who will be meeting at midfield prior to kickoff with the officials and captains for the Wildcats.
Utah officially selected and announced its four captains for the upcoming season, choosing quarterback Jake Bentley, offensive lineman Orlando Umana, linebacker Devin Lloyd and defensive end Mika Tafua.
While three selections don't really come as much of a surprise, the addition of Bentley does raise some curious eyebrows.
For one thing, Bentley is a grad transfer for the Utes, coming over from South Carolina in the offseason. He's never played a down for Utah, and due to the COVID-19 pandemic, didn't get much time around his new teammates in the offseason. But it's clear his gamesmanship and leadership have won over the Utah in the short amount of time he's been around.
UTAH 2020 CAPTAINS
*Jake Bentley, QB, Senior: The first thing that jumps off at you when checking out Bentley is his experience, particularly in the SEC. He went 19-14 in his career with the Gamecocks, including a 10-7 showing in the SEC, widely considered the most difficult conference in college football.
He led South Carolina to the Belk Bowl in 2018 and the Outback Bowl in 2017, even taking home MVP honors during the latter. He's one of the most prolific passers in Gamecock history, ranking in the top-5 in career completion percentage (.625), career pass completions (626), passing touchdowns (55), career passing yards (7,527) and career total offense (7,670).
It speaks volumes about his leadership considering he was voted on as captain by his fellow players, despite being around them sparsely. While not yet guaranteed a starter — sophomore Cam Rising might have something to say about that — Bentley is sure to have a positive effect on the Utes this year.
*Orlanda Umana, OL, Senior: On offense, Utah is expected to be strong in the trenches and Umana is a big reason why. Umana, who was named all-Pac-12 honorable mention last season, has 25 career starts with 21 coming at center.
His leadership and communication will be vital to breaking in a new quarterback on offense and paving for whoever is running the ball. If Umana can provide the steady presence Utah seeks from its offensive line, this offense could really take off.
*Devin Lloyd, LB, Junior: Lloyd, who checks in at a sturdy 6-foot-3, 235 pounds, is expected to take on a massive role this season as the leader of the defense after the team lost nine starters to the NFL.
Last season as a sophomore, Lloyd broke out in a big way when he was named to the all-Pac-12 honorable mention team after racking up a team-high 91 tackles for one of the best defenses in the nation. He started all 14 games at rover linebacker, adding 6.5 sacks and 11 tackles for loss, both of which ranked second on the Utes and within the top-10 in the conference.
Lloyd also excels in pass coverage, as he's strong and fast enough to run with tight ends while being able to track down ball carriers in the backfield. He plays with good instincts and fills holes solidly, continuously paying downhill. He needs to get better at shedding blocks and recognizing plays as they develop, but the potential is there for him to be Utah's next great linebacker.
*Mika Tafua, DL, Junior: Tafua, who was named all-Pac-12 honorable mention last season, started at right end last year opposite Bradlee Anae and finished with 47 tackles, 8.5 tackles for loss and three sacks. He is poised for a major breakout season and with his continued development, and could blossom into an all-American candidate over his final two seasons.
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