2013 Pac 12 Breakout Player to Watch: Trevor Reilly, Utah Utes
The Utah Utes will try to finally make some headway in the Pac 12 in 2013, their third season at the “big boy” table. It’s been difficult sledding so far for Kyle Whittingham and it doesn’t look like it will get any easier. A very tough schedule and a mass exodus along their defensive front following the 2012 season leaves plenty of questions for the Utes heading into the fall. But that also sets the table for a breakout season for defensive leader Trevor Reilly.
As a junior in 2012, Reilly led the team in tackles from his linebacker position, recording 69 tackles, including 6.5 tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks, four pass breakups, three forced fumbles and an interception. His athleticism allowed him to make plays from sideline to sideline and emerge as a leader on the defensive side of the ball. He was a disruptive force for the Utes’ defense and will be asked to do even more in 2013.
The loss of Star Lotulelei, Joe Kruger and Dave Kruger from the defensive front leaves a major hole in Utah’s front seven. Whittingham recognizes this area of weakness and has been working on moving Reilly around, lining him up at both linebacker and defensive end, to get him into more advantageous positions to make plays behind the line of scrimmage. He is clearly the Utes’ best bet to create negative plays for opposing offenses and the defense is going to lean on him to get it done.
That means Reilly will be playing with additional pressure to lead in 2013, but that pressure also comes with the opportunity to become an elite defensive force in the Pac 12. Will he take advantage of being the main defensive weapon for the Utes in 2013 and become an unstoppable force this fall?