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Utah football team opens camp Monday

Utah football team opens camp Monday

Estimated read time: 7-8 minutes

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The Utah football team begins preparations for the 2008 season on Monday, Aug. 4 when practice officially gets underway. There will be a total of 24 practices - including three scrimmages - between Aug. 4 and the conclusion of fall camp on Aug. 23. Practices and scrimmages are closed to the public. UTAH RECEIVES VOTES
Utah was cited near the top of the `Others Receiving Votes' listing in the preseason USA Today Top 25 coaches' poll. The Utes garnered 60 points to rank No. 28 in the first poll of 2008, which was released on Aug. 1.

As part of the NCAA-mandated acclimatization period, the players will work out in helmets and shorts the first two days of practice and won't don full pads until day five (Friday, Aug. 8) ... The team will split up into two groups for practice on Aug. 4 and 5. Group A will be comprised predominantly of starters and third string players and will have the early start time (9 a.m.). Group B, which mostly consists of the "2's and 4's," will take the field at 10:30 a.m. The groups will combine on Aug. 6 and practice as one unit for the remainder of camp ... The first of six two-a-day practices is scheduled for Saturday, Aug. 9.

Every scholarship player, with the exception of three junior college transfers who were completing academic coursework, participated in a voluntary summer conditioning program conducted by strength and conditioning coach Doug Elisaia. Including walk-ons, 108 players stayed in Salt Lake over the summer and trained under Elisaia and his staff.

The Utes will utilize as many as four venues for practices during camp. Sites include the McCarthey Practice Fields, Ute Baseball Field, Rice-Eccles Stadium and the Spence Eccles Field House. Please refer to the boxed inset on page 1 of the PDF attachment for this week's practice locations and times. In the case of heavy rain or wet fields, practice would be moved to Rice-Eccles Stadium, with the second option the Eccles Field House. Scrimmages on Aug. 12, 16 and 20 are booked for Rice-Eccles Stadium.

Every scholarship player, with the exception of three junior college transfers who were completing academic coursework, participated in a voluntary summer conditioning program conducted by strength and conditioning coach Doug Elisaia. Including walk-ons, 108 players stayed in Salt Lake over the summer and trained under Elisaia and his staff.

Highly-touted junior college receivers Aiona Key (Mt. San Antonio College) and David Reed (Pasadena City College) completed the necessary coursework during summer term to join the Utes. Reed is already on campus and Key is expected to report during the first week of camp ... JC signee Dudley LaPorte will not be eligible to play this fall. The current plan is for LaPorte to enroll in classes in January ... Junior college offensive tackle Viliamu Nau (pronounced Vee-lee-ah-moo Now) signed a financial aid tender in July. Nau, whose nickname is Vil, originally signed with Oregon State. He goes into fall camp as the co-backup at right tackle ... Also accepting a scholarship offer in the summer was freshman linebacker Boo Andersen (Sandy, Utah/Alta HS). Andersen was the 2007 Deseret Morning News' Mr. Football ... Defensive end Nate Binks, who signed with Utah in 2006 before leaving for an LDS church mission, will join the team on the first day of school ... Two members of Utah's 2008 signing class suffered injuries over the summer and will "gray shirt." Freshmen Sam Brenner and Zach Davila plan to defer enrollment until January 2008 ... Redshirt freshman OL Jordan Nelson is out indefinitely with a broken foot ... Senior running back Ray Stowers will wear No. 2 this season. He previously wore No. 24 ... Sophomore Neli A'asa has switched from the offensive line to tight end. A'asa, a backup defensive lineman before moving to the offense during last year's bowl preparations, caught a 41-yard pass last year on a fake punt ... Incoming JC transfer Junior Tui'one is in the preseason two-deep at left end behind Koa Misi ... Two true freshmen are expected to impact Utah's kicking game - if not this year, then next. Punter/kicker Sean Sellwood (Salt Lake City/Judge Memorial Catholic HS) is the co-backup at punter and at the kickoff position. Patrick Greene (Monrovia, Calif.) is second in line to handle both short and long snaps.

A milestone was reached last week when 2008 season football sales surpassed 27,500. It marks a 2,300-seat increase from last year's record total of 25,138 and is 8,000 more than the record set in Kyle Whittingham's first season as head coach in 2005. The only way to be assured seats for all six home games in 2008 is to purchase a season ticket. Approximately 2,500 season tickets are still available in the chair back and bleacher areas of Rice-Eccles Stadium.

At the MWC Football Preview in Las Vegas on July 21, the league's media representatives picked Utah to finish second in the conference behind Brigham Young. The Utes received 274 points and five first-place votes, while placing five players in six positions on the 2008 preseason all-conference team. Utah's preseason all-conference players included 2007 first-team All-American Louie Sakoda - the media's all-conference choice at both punter and placekicker, as well as its preseason MWC Special Teams Player of the Year. Sakoda, a two-time MWC Special Teams Player of the Year (2006-07), was joined on the 2008 preseason team by senior offensive lineman Robert Conley, sophomore defensive lineman Paul Kruger, senior defensive back Brice McCain and junior defensive back Robert Johnson.

Utah will open its 2008 season on Aug. 30 against Michigan in Ann Arbor, marking the fifth-straight year the Utes have kicked off the season against a school from a BCS conference. The Utes are 2-2 in those openers, with wins against Texas A&M (2004) and Arizona (2005) and losses to UCLA (2006) and Oregon State (2007) ... In the last five years, Utah is 10-4 against BCS schools. Wins have come against California, Oregon, Texas A&M, Arizona (twice), North Carolina, Pittsburgh, Georgia Tech, UCLA and Louisville ... Utah owns the second-longest current bowl win in the nation at seven. Kyle Whittingham has coached in all seven games of the current postseason streak, including three as the head coach ... The Utes will showcase new uniforms and gear this fall. The university and Under Armour agreed to a five-year partnership on April 8 that designates the performance apparel company as the official outfitter for the Utah football team.

Quarterback Brian Johnson is throwing without pain after being limited last season, as well as in the spring, with an injury to his right (throwing) arm ... The fastest players on the team are cornerbacks Brice McCain (4.28 in the 40) and R.J. Stanford (4.29). The fastest returning offensive player is sophomore quarterback Corbin Louks (4.42) ... Senior Darrell Mack rushed for over 1,200 yards and 10 TDs last year but he faces stiff competition from a healthy Matt Asiata. Asiata, a 2006 junior college All-American, broke his leg in the first game of 2007 ... Four of five starters return on the offensive line, led by all-conference candidates Robert Conley and Zane Beadles. New to the starting lineup is center Zane Taylor ... Utah led the nation last year in pass efficiency defense ... Strong safety is the only position in the defensive backfield that does not return a starter and Poinsettia Bowl Defensive MVP Joe Dale hopes to secure that job in camp ... Utah may have the best set of defensive ends in junior Koa Misi and sophomore Paul Kruger. Misi has moved to his natural position after starting at tackle his first year and Kruger was a 2007 Freshman All-American.

Entering his fourth season as Utah's head coach, Kyle Whittingham is 24-14 overall and 3-0 in bowl games. In 14 years on the Utah staff (he served as the defensive line coach in 2004 and the defensive coordinator from 1995-2004), Whittingham has been involved in more wins (110) than anyone in Utah football history. Utah has played in nine bowl games during his time on the staff - winning eight.

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