It was 13 years ago when Kyle Whittingham stood at the forefront of Utah’s elevation from a Mountain West Conference power to preparing for a new, more daunting gauntlet in the Pac-12. Now, Whittingham and the Utes have stood alone at the top of the conference, elevating themselves to back-to-back Pac-12 titles.
Utah Utes Coaching Staff, 2023
The longtime head coach has achieved this with a veteran staff mixed with alums, experience, and aggressive recruiters. They collaborate to turn Utah into an annual threat to hoist the conference trophy and plan a New Year’s Day trip out of state to Pasadena for the Rose Bowl. Here’s who comprises this year’s staff.
Head coach, Kyle Whittingham
Whittingham has been an integral and significant part of Utah’s meteoric rise. He was the defensive coordinator behind the Utes’ first-ever undefeated and untied regular season in 2004. Four years later, he guided the program to a school-record 13-0 mark, culminating in a thrashing of Nick Saban and Alabama in the Sugar Bowl.
These accomplishments came when the Utes were a mid-major “BCS buster” from the Mountain West.
Now, he’s arguably the top head coach in the conference, proven by the results of the last two seasons. He is entering his 19th season as head coach and will embark on his 12th season in the Pac-12, making him the only remaining head coach since the conference’s realignment before the 2011 season.
Furthermore, Whittingham has remained in the Salt Lake City region since 1994, when he began as the Utes’ defensive line coach. He has displayed loyalty to the Utes, and he’s not the only one with multiple years in the 801.
Defensive Coordinator and Safeties Coach, Morgan Scalley
Scalley is another Utah alumnus who has stayed in the area for more than a decade. What sets him apart is that every coaching season he has had has been with Utah, dating back to when he was an administrative assistant in 2006. He worked his way up to recruiting coordinator and special teams coordinator before taking charge of the defense alongside Whittingham.
Since 2016, Scalley has had the privilege of coaching future NFL talent. Notable names include safety Marcus Williams (New Orleans Saints), future Super Bowl champion Terrell Burgess (Los Angeles Rams), rapidly rising cornerback Jaylon Johnson (Chicago Bears), and most recently, first-round linebacker from the 2022 draft, Devin Lloyd of the Jacksonville Jaguars, and day three selection from the 2023 draft, Clark Phillips III of the Atlanta Falcons.
As a recruiter, Scalley played a significant role in assembling the nation’s 21st ranked recruiting class for the Class of 2023 according to 247Sports composite. He also played a crucial role in securing commitments from the aforementioned professional Utes.
Offensive Coordinator and Quarterbacks, Andy Ludwig
Ludwig is a longtime college football offensive coordinator. However, he’s been with Utah the longest, entering his fifth season there, and this is his second stint with the Utes, as he previously held the same position from 2005-2008.
Ludwig has previously served as the OC at Vanderbilt, Wisconsin, San Diego State, Cal, Oregon, Fresno State, and Cal Poly. The latter was where he began his coordinator career.
Known as a QB guru, he played a crucial role in turning David Carr into the No. 1 overall pick of the 2002 NFL Draft. In 2019, he briefly coached Baltimore Ravens QB Tyler Huntley during Huntley’s final season in SLC, which resulted in All-First Team honors. Currently, he has Heisman Trophy hopeful Cameron Rising behind center, who has thrown a combined 46 touchdown passes and has helped Utah secure its first Pac-12 titles.
Offensive Line Coach, Jim Harding
Harding is another veteran of the Utes, entering his 10th season with Whittingham and the team. Under Harding’s guidance, his unit has blocked for four different 1,000-yard rushers. His most recent OL success story is Braeden Daniels, who was drafted in the fourth round by the Washington Commanders. Harding also coached Garet Bolles, a first-round pick in 2017.
Special Teams Coordinator and Cornerbacks Coach, Sharrieff Shah
Shah has spent the last five years leading the special teams unit, but he has been coaching the CBs at Utah since 2012. It was Shah who played a crucial role in developing Philipps III and Johnson into All-Conference performers and future NFL talents as his prized corners. Another standout from Shah’s coaching is Eric Rowe, a second-round pick in 2015.
Tight Ends Coach and Recruiting Coordinator, Freddie Whittingham
Freddie Whittingham, Kyle Whittingham’s brother, has also been on staff since 2012. He initially started as the director of player personnel and has held his current roles as the Tight Ends Coach and Recruiting Coordinator since 2016. Freddie Whittingham has played a vital role in recruiting future NFL talent to SLC. Notably, he coached Dalton Kincaid, Utah’s recent No. 25 overall pick, at the tight end position.
Defensive Ends Coach, Lewis Powell
While Powell had a brief tenure with Hawaii from 2012-2014, he has spent two of his three coaching stints with Utah. During his time, he has coached five first-team players and produced eight NFL players, five of whom were drafted. Powell’s coaching has also contributed to Utah’s success in stopping the run, with the defense leading the Pac-12 in rush defense in 2016 and from 2018 to 2021.
Defensive Tackles Coach, Luther Elliss
Utah All-American and NFL veteran lineman Elliss is one of the newer additions to Whittingham’s staff, entering his second season. In his first year, Elliss’s coaching had an immediate impact, as Utah led the conference in average tackles for loss per game (6.4) and sacks per game (2.93).
Linebackers Coach, Colton Swan
Swan has been with Utah since 2019. His coaching has contributed to Utah’s ability to stifle opposing running games, as evidenced by their seven games of allowing fewer than 100 yards rushing. His most notable pupil was Lloyd, but he has also produced undrafted free agents Francis Bernard and Nephi Sewell.
Running Backs Coach, Quinton Ganther
Ganther, like Elliss, is entering his second season as a Ute assistant. His coaching played a role in elevating Utah to a No. 11 ranking among running attacks in the FBS, with the Utah running backs accumulating a total of 3,047 yards, the second-most in school history. His coaching will receive a significant boost with the return of Micah Bernard, who briefly entered the transfer portal but decided to remain with the team.
Wide Receivers Coach, Alvis Whitted
The newest addition to the coaching staff, Whitted joined Utah in January 2023. He brings extensive coaching experience, including coaching Pro Bowl wide receiver Davante Adams in 2019 when they were with the Green Bay Packers. Whitted also coached at Colorado State from 2012-2018, during which time Michael Gallup, who went on to have success in the NFL, was a Ram. Whitted spent his last three seasons (2020-2022) at Wisconsin.