Desmond Howard had high praise for Utah sophomore safety Sione Vaki, who has begun to play on both sides of the ball for the Utes in recent weeks.

Asked by KSL’s Josh Furlong if Vaki could push his way into the Heisman conversation, Howard said it’s not as far-fetched as it may seem on the surface.

“As a Heisman winner, as a Heisman voter, it’s not about your stats, it’s about Heisman moments in big games,” Howard told local reporters on Friday, per Furlong.

“Like when I won the Heisman back in 1991, I had a game – the first game was against Boston College, and I scored four touchdowns against Boston College, and no one really talked about me. The following week, we played Notre Dame in Ann Arbor, and I scored two touchdowns, but the last touchdown score was a fourth-and 1 grab in the back of the end zone, like that was a moment. So it wasn’t the stats, the week before I scored four, this week I scored two, but it was the moment, so he has an opportunity now.”

The do-it-all sophomore has recorded 34 tackles, 1 interception, 232 rushing yards, 144 receiving yards, and 5 total touchdowns in 2023. Vaki played exclusively on the defensive side of the ball in 2022 and was leading the team in tackles before he emerged as an offensive option in the Cal game.

Vaki was huge in last week’s 34-32 win over USC, posting 217 yards of total offense and two touchdowns.

Utah coaches said this week he might focus more on offense going forward.

“I mean, he’s coming from behind, let’s keep it 100. He’s coming away from behind, but if he’s able to do some things, maybe he get an invite,” Howard said. “But he has some games coming up, where people will really be paying attention, like tomorrow, just saying. A lot of eyes will be on him tomorrow, baby. If you’re gonna do something, do it tomorrow.”

Vaki and the Utes are set to take on Oregon at 12:30 p.m. PT on FOX.