SALT LAKE CITY — Facing second and three from Weber State's 8-yard line, Utah was in striking distance to make it a double-digit lead over the visiting team.
Junior wide receiver Solomon Enis lined up on the left side of the line of scrimmage in a four-receiver set and an empty backfield. Enis' job was simple: run a basic 8-yard slant. Initially covered up by a Weber State linebacker, Enis changed directions to match quarterback Charlie Brewer, who scrambled out of the pocket to his left.
The defense followed along in a zone scheme, anticipating a pass while still keeping a close eye on Brewer to avoid him running untouched into the end zone. But it didn't matter, Brewer quickly struck and found Enis open in the midst of his Weber State defenders — touchdown!
It was just one touchdown in the team's first game of the season, but for those who have watched Enis and his journey with the program, it was the culmination of all the hard work he's put into the program over the years — with very little to show for it on the stat sheet.
Enis is the first to deflect, though — his own goals come secondary to the mantra of being a team-first player for the Utes. And there's no question he's done whatever has been necessary to help his team win. But in that moment it was as if the former four-star receiver out of Phoenix, Arizona, had found a larger role in Utah's offense.
It's hard to overreact to a solitary play, but touchdowns — or targets — haven't come easy for one of the most veteran players on the offensive side of the ball. Even during Utah's 11-1 regular-season record in 2019 where Utah featured one of the most efficient offenses in the country, Enis was barely a part of the receiving action. He finished the season with only 158 receiving yards on 14 receptions — and no touchdowns.
In fact, the touchdown Enis reeled in Thursday night was only the third of his collegiate career.
"It felt amazing," Enis said. "I've been here three years and just working every day trying to get better and just trying to capitalize on those opportunities — not only to help the team but boost the fans. I love the support that they give to not only myself but my family but, yeah, it was great. I mean, it felt good to celebrate with my teammates to get the win as well."
Fans were quick to recognize the monumental moment, too. It was as if there was a collective sigh of relief — a sort of celebratory feeling — that Enis was set for bigger things this season with Brewer under center.
In total, Enis finished the night with four catches for 62 yards — a good start to the season. But the most memorably of his catches that night wasn't the touchdown he caught in the third quarter. It was a catch he made on the first play of the fourth quarter.
Leading up to that moment, Utah had just participated in a "moment of loudness" in the quarter break to honor the late running back Ty Jordan and his long-lasting legacy on a program where he was only there for a short time. It was an emotional moment for all in attendance, and one that will continue — the university announced it will be a sustained tradition this season between the third and fourth quarters.
Out of that emotional moment, Brewer found Enis for a 22-yard pass — as if fate designed the play to honor the player who used to wear No. 22 before his untimely death. For it to be Enis, an athlete that has given his all to the university over the years, was all the better.
A 22-yard gain just after our tribute to Ty ♥️ #LLTJ— Utah Football (@Utah_Football) September 3, 2021
Much of that credit, Enis said, goes to Brewer and the diverse play-calling of offensive coordinator Andy Ludwig. Utah has the playmakers in both the pass and run game to give players like Enis an opportunity to be more involved in the offensive diversity.
"It's great. I mean, we've got weapons everywhere, so now that we're finally utilizing every single position, it's great — builds confidence in each room, each group," Enis said. "And now, you've got to limit somewhere — I mean, you can't guard everybody at the same time, so we've got weapons everywhere, and I'm glad we're utilizing them now."
Enis is by no means the only receiving option for Utah, and he doesn't expect to be — Brewer showed no favoritism and passed to eight different receivers for 262 yards Thursday — but being a larger part of the offensive DNA feels good, too. For Enis, Thursday's performance has the potential to mean bigger and better things for the talented receiver looking for an opportunity.