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Utes May Be Thirsting For DBs

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Utah defensive back Eric Rowe is leapfrogged by UCLA receiver Joseph Fauria last season in a Utes' Rose Bowl loss. Rowe, who may prove to be one of Utah's greatest defensive backs, carries a heavy burden in leading an inexperienced defensive backfield. Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images.
Utah defensive back Eric Rowe is leapfrogged by UCLA receiver Joseph Fauria last season in a Utes' Rose Bowl loss. Rowe, who may prove to be one of Utah's greatest defensive backs, carries a heavy burden in leading an inexperienced defensive backfield. Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images.

Where did the famine come from?

Recent years have seen former Utah defensive backs Eric Weddle, Brice McCain, Sean Smith, R.J. Stanford, Brandon Burton and Conroy Black enter the NFL. Even after last year’s losing season, cornerbacks Moe Lee, and Ryan Lacy and Reggie Topps, the latter a nickel back for the Utes in 2012, inked free-agent deals with teams from the best league in the world.

But Utes fans shouldn't get too thirsty for quality defensive back play this season — they might need to Rowe their boat to survival. 

With star senior Brian Blechen’s shift to linebacker, the Utes may be parched for experience defending the pass. They now face the reality of having just one consistent starter return this year. But junior Eric Rowe may be the next in line among great Utah defensive backs — even worhy of the level achieved by a certain Utah star of the same first name.

But don’t let that quench your thirst for a deeper defensive backfield, especially at corner. Blechen’s shift reportedly was possible because of confidence in the safeties alongside Rowe. If quarterbacks like UCLA’s Brett Hundley, Arizona State’s Taylor Kelly and Utah State’s Chuckie Keeton can throw over them without worry, it won’t matter nearly as much that Utah’s defensive line may be equipped as last year’s, or that the addition of Blechen makes for a great linebacker unit — or even if Rowe anchors a strong trio of safeties.

The following list includes players expected to provide a reservoir of ability: