Paul Kruger happy to be playing football again for Utes

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The Utes begin fall football practice tomorrow. Defensive end Paul Kruger will be on the field after a strong freshman year. Ute coaches think he could be the next great defensive lineman on the hill, but Kruger is just grateful to be alive.

2007 was a breakout season for Paul Kruger. The former high school quarterback made a seamless transition to defensive end, where he terrorized opposing quarterbacks and was named a freshman All-American. His future looked bright as he prepared for his sophomore season, but one night last spring that promising future almost came to an end.

On the night of Jan. 19, Paul was with his sister, his brother David and teammate Greg Newman. They left a friend's house in a Salt Lake neighborhood when some guys drove by shouting profanity. Paul and his friends told them to shut up and get out of here, but things escalated and the situation got out of control.

David suffered a laceration on his face, while Newman was stabbed in the back with a screwdriver. Their injuries were not serious.

Paul was not so lucky. He suffered a punctured lung and spent four hours in surgery, followed by a few days in the hospital.

This was not the first time Paul had a brush with death. As a teenager he survived a four-wheeling accident that cost him a kidney and a spleen.

Now healthy, Paul looks forward to playing football with his little brother. He will be chasing down quarterbacks now with a new perspective on life.

To watch this story, with comments from Paul and David Kruger, click play on the above video.

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