Spectacular sunshine but serious heat greeting this eager, energetic and experienced Utes football team. Rare blend of veterans (14 returning starters, plus both kickers) and newcomers creating an extremely optimistic climate.
Coach Whittingham says 7-8 first year Utes (freshmen, JC transfers) will also looking like they’ll contribute plenty and Coach Whit wanted to see what this group is made of, so he pushed them, several sets of character and stamina-building ‘gassers’. “Yeah, it was a good, physical day, full gear and sometimes players need their courage tested, today was one of those days and they passed with flying colors.” Utes DB’s Coach Sharrieff Shah his usual excitable self, pushing his young kids to
“never give up, never tap out” as he pushed the DB’s through that end of practice pain. “Coach Whit surprised everybody, coaches included with a whole lot of ‘gasser’ work at the end and I’m so happy that none of our DB’s tapped out cause it’s so easy to let your mind say ‘I just can’t go anymore’ but that’s not what championship teams are made of. You refuse to let your body just cave in.”
So much talent galvanized by an undeniable rhythm of everyone pulling in the same direction. It’s what ultimately lured 6’4″268 lb Jr DE Kylie Fitts to Utah from UCLA.
“The reason why I came here was ‘family’, they really push it here. I really felt it right when I came here. Then grinding out there right at the end of practice, I started getting chills, just how close we are, everyone pushing each other.” Fitts left a UCLA program that’s a perennial PAC12 power but he thinks his Utes D could crash anybody’s party. “I”ve never seen a defense like this, stacked 2-deep everywhere, it’s crazy to see how much talent we have I’m excited to see it this year.”
Half-way through Utah’s Fall camp Coach Whit’s biggest surprisers?? He’s so happy with the progress of those young DB’s like Jr. Reggie Porter (only 10 career tackles) Jr Brian Allen, Jr. Corey Butler Byrd (DB’s Coach Shaw “I brought him in with the understanding that he’d be a CB but Whit said we need to try him at receiver, he started to do some special things, but we had so many more receivers, I said ‘Coach he can’t even get the ball, I’ll give him reps over here’, Offense was pissed, but that’s ok because that’s what you go through to get the best eleven guys on the field at the same time.”) So. Tavaris Williams and Fr Casey Hughes. Equally impressive at a position the Utes need replacements for graduated talented? The Receivers. Co-Offensive Coordinators Jim Harding and Aaron Roderick were counting on known commodity Kenneth Scott and even Utes’ leading RUSHER in 2013 Bubba Poole now very comfortable as one of Travis Wilson’s easy targets in the H-back, slot position.
Then there’s the breakout star of Fall camp, Britain Covey the 5’8″ 166 lb freshman from Timpview and the surging freshman TE Caleb Repp from Rancho Cucamonga. Two of that “Group of New” the 7 or 8 first year players that are ‘blowing up’. “We don’t really have a preference whether you’ve been in the program 5 days or 5 years, best guys are going to play” says Coach Whittingham who’s rarely gushed openly like he has about the explosiveness and escapability of Covey. He figures to be Utah’s main punt returner too. “Right now they’re among the best… so they’re getting their opportunity.”
So what’s ahead? their second and final Fall scrimmage Tuesday, Fall camp breaks after next Saturday’s last day of practice. Then it’s on!
Just over two weeks to the season opener against Jim Harbaugh and the Michigan Wolverines so far so good for a Utah team that sets up as one of the nation’s most powerful sleepers.
“Come September 3rd our guys will be ready to play” says Shah, salivating, dreaming of the packed Rice Eccles Stadium, loud and rowdy. I add ‘that sounds like the understatement of Fall camp?’ Shah “They’ll be READY TO PLAY!”
I’ve seen all I need to see. Prediction: Utah 33 Michigan 13