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Weston Kenny, KSL, File

After BYU commitment, former Utah RB Devonta'e Henry-Cole likely headed to Utah State

By Sean Walker, KSL.com | Posted - Jul. 20, 2020 at 7:08 p.m.



PROVO — Devonta’e Henry-Cole is on the move.

Yes, again.

After committing to BYU as a graduate transfer, the former Utah running back plans to head to Utah State, a source confirmed to KSL.com.

The move was first reported by Austin Horton and Jake Hatch of 1280 The Zone.

Henry-Cole never went through an official practice, though a source confirmed that he had participated in at least one voluntary workout/player-run-practice with BYU teammates. As a graduate student, he also was not required to sign any legally binding grant-in-aid paperwork such as a scholarship at BYU.

In addition to Lopini Katoa, Sione Finau and Jackson McChesney, the Cougars signed two running backs in the Class of 2020 in Bruce Garrett from Texarkana, Texas, and Tooele’s Nukuluve Helu, who were expected

A highlight video announcing the signing remains on BYU’s social media channels.

Henry-Cole rushed for 468 yards and four touchdowns on 90 touches in three years with the Utes, which was limited by injuries. But with several former teammates moving on — most notably Zack Moss to the NFL and Armand Shyne to Texas Tech — Henry-Cole was looking for a fresh start.

He found it in Kalani Sitake, the former Utah defensive coordinator-turned-head coach at BYU, and a graduate program in biology. Henry-Cole committed to the Cougars just before tipoff of a raucous basketball game with Saint Mary’s and signed as part of the Cougars’ 2020 recruiting class. He’d already spoken with BYU passing game coordinator Aaron Roderick — who coached Henry-Cole at Utah — and he visited campus within days of his defection from Utah.

“It was pretty obvious he was comfortable right when he got here,” Sitake recalled on signing day. “I was really impressed with the maturity he had, the gratitude he had for Utah, and the opportunity provided to be here.

“He’s such a genuine young man. But when you saw his interactions with everyone, it was a perfect fit.”

Part of Henry-Cole’s reasoning — though certainly not all of it, he said in multiple subsequent interviews with various media — involved BYU’s Sept. 3 date against the Utes. Henry-Cole even tweeted the date, along with the hashtag committed, when he pledged to the school — a tweet that has since been deleted after Henry-Cole’s Twitter account was deactivated.

BYU lost its annual rivalry game with the Utes last week when the Pac-12 canceled the non-conference season, a move that followed the same announcement from the Big Ten and cost the Cougars games against Michigan State, Arizona State and Minnesota.

Even as he continued to finish classes at Utah to earn his bachelor’s degree, Henry-Cole remained true to his new destination while thanking the school that took a chance on the product of St. Thomas Aquinas High School in Florida.

During his time at Utah, Henry-Cole was baptized a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, with former Ute star Chase Hansen, wide receiver standout Britain Covey, and former walk-on Dylan Slavens playing key roles in his conversion.

All of that convergence of factors — plus a chance to compete for immediate playing time he didn’t feel he would get at Utah — led to his transfer.

“You’re always looking to upgrade your talent, and we feel like we did that at running back,” BYU offensive coordinator Jeff Grimes told KSL.com after Henry-Cole signed. “There will be a lot of competition to see who lines up next to the quarterback this fall.”

Utah Utes running back Devonta'e Henry-Cole (7) dances on the field before playing the Oregon Ducks at Autzen Stadium in Eugene, Ore., on Saturday, Oct. 28, 2017. (Photo: Kristin Murphy, KSL)

All that changed before playing a game with his new team.

At BYU, Henry-Cole was expected to compete with former American Fork standout Lopini Katoa to be the starting running back. Sione Finau, who hurt his ACL last November, and Jackson McChesney were also expected to compete for playing time.

Meanwhile, at Utah State — which recently received a commitment from former Utah quarterback Jason Shelley — Henry-Cole will compete with senior running back Jaylen Warren, a former East High and Snow College star and Doak Walker watch list candidate who ran for 569 yards and five touchdowns in his first season with the Aggies.

Former Utah State quarterback Henry Colombi, who entered the transfer portal the day after Shelley signed with the Aggies, announced Monday his intent to sign with former coach Matt Wells and Texas Tech.

“Logan will always have a special place in my heart and I am thankful for my time here,” Colombi wrote on Twitter. “The last week has been very overwhelming, and I would like to thank all of the schools who have reached out to me during this time and given me an opportunity to play for them.

“Through days of prayer and conversation with my family, it was clear to me that God has a plan for me and I trust him to lead me in the right direction.”

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