University of Utah

Utes Talent Poole Runs Deep

Bubba Poole’s been freaky fast and chasing his own space most of the last 10 years.   Finally, Poole’s relentless motor and commitment to his team has created a perfect fit.  Utah needed a versatile catch-run threat at H-back and Bubba’s now plan A.

Utah Utes running back James Poole 34 head downfield as the University of Utah and Oregon State University play PAC 12 football Saturday Sept 14 2013in Salt Lake City Utah Photo by Tom SmartUniversity of Utah Sports Information

Utah Utes running back James Poole (34) head downfield as the University of Utah and Oregon State University play PAC 12 football Saturday, Sept. 14, 2013,in Salt Lake City Utah. Photo by Tom Smart/University of Utah Sports Information


“New position, kinda got the spring back in my step, things are slowing down as far as understanding the playbook, things are coming second nature now,very excited for the season, can’t wait for it to get here.”

The projected high football star in Las Vegas only flashed his upside due to stiff competition at his local high school.   The first of many changes of direction saw Poole transfer from perennial power Bishop Gorman to Cimarron-Memorial, where Bubba ran into more competition for touches before he finally took over as the Spartans main man, rushing for 1,678 yards and 20 TD’s his senior season.  He had enough strength and burst as a runner to anchor his high school track team’s record-setting relay.  Better late than never, the scholarships finally rolled in, Utah among the first but low SAT scores forced Poole into community college.  Determined to get into a 4 year university as soon as possible,  Poole doubled up his course load, eventually taking Utah’s scholarship.

2 years ago, as a sophomore, Poole was the Utes leading rusher (over 600 yards) and was a relentless force in the Utes biggest PAC12 win, the upset of 5th ranked, unbeaten Stanford.

Utah running back Bubba Poole breaks a tackle against Stanford October 12 2013 in Salt Lake City Utah PhotoSteve C Wilson

Utah running back Bubba Poole breaks a tackle against Stanford October 12,, 2013 in Salt Lake City, Utah. (Photo/Steve C. Wilson)

Bubba ripped through the stingy Cardinal defense for 111 yards rushing and early signs that he could become a starting H Back, Poole caught 7 passes vs Stanford for 75 yards.  Piling up 186 total yards in one of Utah’s most important wins in program history sent a signal to Head Coach Kyle Whittingham, ‘Bubba’s a major player’. Last season with JC transfer Devontae Booker becoming a star running back, Poole stayed positive despite seeing his role reduced.into this Spring, with new offensive coordinators searching for the best 11 and Booker clearly the man in the backfield, the consensus was ‘let’s Poole our resources”.

poole spring game

Bubba became the man at H-back  “Kind of a mutual thing, coaches and me.  I knew I had the ability to catch the ball, do the things that receivers did, I mainly wanted to get on the field, they were telling me especially with ‘Book’ having the season he had,  I could really make a contribution and with Kaelin leaving, the inside would be wide open and I’d have a great shot.”

Poole is lovin’ himself some slot.

poole recepts

“Oh yeah, just the whole scheme, there’s a lot of open space, you just catch it and do what you do, You’re always involved in the play, if it’s a run-designed play you got a key block or you got to fake a route to make a play work just all that the slot entails that caught my attention.”

Early in Kamp Kyle, the bad news for the rest of the PAC12 is that one of Utah’s mystery positions, the wide receivers are stepping up. Bubba, Tim Patrick, Britain Covey, Corey Butler, and Raelon Singleton, the main pieces of the receivers group that Whittingham calls the biggest surprises of the first week of Utes Fall camp.

“That’s great to hear especially since we know if you had to pick a spot, receivers is the biggest question mark so we as a group kinda took it personal, we want to switch it around to where receivers isn’t a weak spot but now the receivers are one of the top things the other team has to scheme for.”

While Bubba’s mastering the nuances of the slot spot, fellow senior Travis Wilson’s enjoying a feeling of “position mastery”

travis throws

as the unquestioned leader of the Utes multidimensional offense and Poole notices the change since Wilson’s become the Utes number one.

travis leader

 “He’s learning to take charge, knowing when to step up, knowing when to get on the offense, telling us to ‘pick it up’.  Overall, I would say the biggest jump for him is the leadership, just taking command like a quarterback should”.

With Utah’s opener fast approaching, the perfect storm’s brewing.  It will be Jim Harbaugh’s first game as head coach of his alma mater.  Michigan’s a program in serious transition.  Lots of questions including at QB where 3 kids are battling for the starting job but with the fiery Harbaugh now in charge of the Maze and Blue, the Wolverines are getting the lions share of the national pre-season pub, witness Harbaugh on the cover of ESPN the Magazine.

harbaugh best pic

“It’s a good thing” says Poole. “They got all the hype with Harbaugh, we’re just kinda flying under the radar.  It’s a perfect situation for us, Thursday night (Sept, 3rd) national TV, Harbaugh’s in town.  I look at it as a perfect opportunity to kind of showcase everything, start Harbaugh off with a loss in Utah.”  Bubba says Harbaugh will understand what ‘the Rice Eccles experience’ is all about.

utah crowd

“We love the crowd, it’s kinda of a 12th man for us, they help us out a lot, especially the defense, that ‘third down jump’ is a huge momentum boost for us.” 

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