Brant Kuithe, Devaughn Vele returning in 2023 as Utah seeks third straight Pac-12 title
Brant Kuithe and Devaughn Vele didn’t want to be left out.
The gang is back together in 2023 for Utah as the program seeks a third consecutive league championship. Thomas Yassmin announced his return Sunday. Cameron Rising reframed the Pac-12’s 2023 title discussion with his announcement Monday morning. And there was Kuithe, the team’s top tight end entering the season, and Vele, a wideout who emerged as a reliable go-to for Rising once Kuithe went down, who both announced they were coming back as well.
“Third time’s the charm,” Kuithe tweeted Monday.
Third time’s the charm. pic.twitter.com/DE6fhNbtR3
— Brant kuithe (@Brantkuithe14) January 9, 2023
The talented tight end suffered an ACL injury in Utah’s game against Arizona State earlier this season. The injury put him on the shelf after just four games, but the silver lining was the timing. Because he’d only played four games, Kuithe was able to count the year as a redshirt campaign, giving him the ability to come back for a sixth season with the program.
Kuithe had touchdown catches in each of his first three games. At the time he went down, he had the second-most receiving touchdowns among Power Five tight ends (three) and was sixth among FBS tight ends in receiving yards (204).
A year ago, Kuithe was Rising’s favorite target. The Katy, Texas native hauled in 50 receptions for 611 yards and six touchdowns. He spent the offseason working more as an outside receiver with the hopes of Utah featuring him even more in 2022. Such a campaign would have sent Kuithe into the NFL Draft with a strong chance of getting picked.
But with the injury, the Utah offense had to recalibrate. Dalton Kincaid took over as the top choice in the pass game. He led the Utes this past season with 70 receptions for 890 yards and eight scores — all team-highs.
Kincaid would have been a No. 2 option with Kuithe healthy. Instead, Vele took the No. 2 role and finished with 55 receptions for 695 yards and five scores. In the Rose Bowl against Penn State, Vele had his first career 100-yard receiving day.
And Vele will give it one more go-around in Salt Lake City as well. It will be his fifth season with the program.
POV: you see another year of Utah Football in your future 👀
Devaughn Vele is coming back for the 2023 season 🙌 pic.twitter.com/ipCqmV7dC5
— Utah Football (@Utah_Football) January 9, 2023
Utah will seek a third straight Pac-12 title next season — something that hasn’t been done since the reorganization of the league in 2011. Stanford (2012-13) and Oregon (2019-20) have both won back-to-back since the title game’s creation, but Stanford failed to make the game in 2014 and Oregon was defeated by Utah in 2021.
In search of that goal, the pass game will have its leader back at quarterback, it’ll have its top wideout back on the outside, and it’ll have one of the best tight ends in the country.