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Utah football: Carrington ruled eligible for season; battle for No. 1 continues in key spots


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SALT LAKE CITY — Senior wide receiver Darren Carrington II has already made an impact at Utah. His speed and ability to catch the ball is a welcomed addition to a team in need of offensive playmakers.

On Monday, the Pac-12 Faculty Athletics Representatives’ Committee approved Carrington’s transfer to Utah and his eligibility to play this season, according to officials from the university. Carrington applied for a waiver of the Intra-Conference Transfer Penalty, which was granted Monday.

Carrington will be an instant impact player for the wide receiver group as the offense attempts to establish itself under new offensive coordinator Troy Taylor.

Whittingham said Monday afternoon that the team is "excited" to get Carrington this year and that he's "a guy that can help us this year and he’ll figure into our plans prominently."

Although Carrington had legal issues while a player at Oregon, Whittingham said Monday he has no plans to keep the senior out of games as a punishment.

"His discipline is what matters to me, and what he’s done here and how he functions here," he said. "That was the plan going in and was laid out up front. I made sure that he knew if he came here it was a fresh start in all ways. But obviously there are higher expectations because of what’s transpired in the past. But there is no carry over."

Players switching sides

Head coach Kyle Whittingham announced Monday that senior Kenric Young and freshman Nick Ford are switching sides. Young was recruited as a wide receiver but saw little playing time in his three years at Utah. Last week, Whittingham moved Young over to corner in what he called an “experimental situation,” but Whittingham said he wasn’t certain if he’d remain there. Apparently, the switch was a good enough move.

“With the depth at receiver, we think maybe he’ll be able to help us a little sooner at corner,” Whittingham said last week.

In Monday's practice, Young was an active defender at times. He even caught a tipped ball that would have been returned for a touchdown had it played out.

Ford was recruited into the program as a defensive tackle, but has since switched over to the offensive line, where he’ll add depth to a unit in need of consistency. Ford started working out with the offensive line last week. Where he’ll play on the line is not certain yet as players continue to shift.

Last week, senior Lo Falemaka went down with a leg injury, leaving Johnny Capra and Paul Toala to fill the spot at center. Toala is a walk-on player who was just awarded a full-time scholarship on Friday.

Battle for the No. 1 spot

With just over three weeks left until Utah’s first game of the season, the program has several key spots with players fighting for the starting spot. Most notably, the quarterbacks — Troy Williams, Tyler Huntley and Cooper Bateman — will all continue to see reps this week until it becomes “necessary to determine a starter.”

Whittingham elaborated on that saying Williams and Huntley are receiving the bulk of the reps and Bateman is getting whatever is leftover. However, Whittingham was reticent to name a starting quarterback and says they'll likely wait for another week or so to make that decision.

What's Whittingham and the coaching staff looking for? One of the players to "execute and run the offense better" than the other. Williams obviously has the experience at the position, but Huntley is more than capable of claiming the spot.

Whittingham said last week that Huntley has the best escapability of the trio, saying he’s “exceptional” at getting out of tough situations.

Sophomore quarterback Tyler Huntley throws a pass at Utah's practice on Aug. 1, 2017 (Photo: Josh Furlong, KSL.com).
Sophomore quarterback Tyler Huntley throws a pass at Utah's practice on Aug. 1, 2017 (Photo: Josh Furlong, KSL.com).

Utah will go into the second week of camp with questions surrounding the placekicking duties. Sophomore Hayes Hicken, who got some playing time last season, will likely take a back seat to either freshman Chayden Johnston or senior Matt Gay, who are battling for the starting role. Whittingham said Johnston and Gay are the two players who have emerged as contenders for the starting spot.

Hicken was responsible for kickoffs for much of last season, but is “being pushed” for the job by junior punter Mitch Wishnowsky. Whittingham has named Harrison Handley as the long and short snapper in kicking situations. The senior tight end has been “outstanding,” according to Whittingham, and his “times were faster or are faster” than former snapper Chase Dominguez', who graduated last season.

At running back, junior Armand Shyne and sophomore Zack Moss are in a relative dead heat for the starting spot; however, both will likely play in games. Last week, Whittingham said Shyne was likely the starter, but that he was “being pushed” by Moss for playing time. Taylor has said he’ll try to use the best players in his offense and may utilize a two-back set in his offensive schemes from time to time.

Defense dominating offense

The defense dominated the offense Monday. The secondary was incredibly active and physical during media observance and managed to pick off several passes. Julian Blackmon, Philip Afia and Corrion Ballard were making it exceptional difficult for the receivers to catch passes.

"The secondary, I’ve been bragging on them since the first practice. They’re starting to make plays," Whittingham said. "They’re very talented, they just need experience, and that’s what we’re giving them right now."

Additionally, guys like Kylie Fitts and Filipo Mokofisi were equally active on the line, pressuring all the quarterbacks to the point where they didn't look comfortable.

"Defense is probably further along than the offense right now, which is to be expected. And I think we're going to be pretty good on defense when all is said and done. We'll have a pretty stout defense. Right now we're in pretty good shape. ...

Notes: The Pac-12 Network crew will be in Utah Monday and Tuesday to film its annual Football Training Camp show. The crew will interview the Barton family, all three quarterbacks and Taylor. Whittingham said receiver Sampson Nacua, offensive tackles Jackson Barton and Salesi Uhatafe, and running backs Shyne and Moss were the standouts on offense last week. ... Whittingham is back to experiencing with the offensive line personnel and hopes to have at least eight guys that are game ready. ... Receiver Raelon Singleton returned to practice following a brief stint with an injury. Whittingham said his presence and leadership is greatly needed.

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Josh is the Sports Director for KSL.com and beat writer of University of Utah athletics — primarily football, men’s basketball and gymnastics. He is also an Associated Press Top 25 voter for college football.

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