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SALT LAKE CITY - The Utah football team opened its annual preseason camp on Thursday. Between the start and finish of camp on Aug. 22, the Utes will conduct 20 practices, including three scrimmages. A total of 105 players are expected to report, which is the maximum allowable by the NCAA prior to the first day of classes. Practices and scrimmages are closed to the public.
As part of the NCAA-mandated acclimatization period, the Utes will work out in helmets and shorts the first two days of practice and will upgrade to full pads on day five (Aug. 11). The team will split up into two groups for practices on Aug. 6 and 7. Group A will practice at 9 a.m., followed by Group B at 10:40 a.m. The groups combine forces on Aug. 8 and practice as a unit for the remainder of camp. The first of five two-a-day practices is scheduled for Aug. 12. Scrimmages will be held on Aug. 13, 18 and 22.
For the first time in Kyle Whittingham's head coaching career, the Utes expect to have a full complement of 85 players on scholarship. Every returner and all but four scholarship recruits participated in summer workouts in Salt Lake City. Newcomers Maxwell Lacy, Ray Magee and Eric Dago hope to have academic requirements completed in time to join the team in camp. James Aiono, a highly recruited DE from Snow College, will likely redshirt this season and join the team in the spring.
MEET THE STAFF
Several coaching maneuvers occurred in the offseason. The most notable were internal, with two members of Kyle Whittingham's original 2005 staff being promoted to coordinator status: Dave Schramm (offensive coordinator) and Kalani Sitake (defensive coordinator). In addition to their coordinator duties, Schramm and Sitake will coach the quarterbacks and linebackers, respectively. In other internal moves, Aaron Alford takes over the running backs after two years with the cornerbacks, and second-year safeties coach Morgan Scalley has the added responsibility of recruiting coordinator. New to the staff are John Pease (defensive line and assistant head coach), Blake Miller (offensive line) and J.D. Williams (cornerbacks).
At the MWC Football Preview in Las Vegas on July 21, the league's media representatives picked Utah to finish third in the conference behind TCU and Brigham Young. The Utes received 179 points and three first-place votes, while placing five players on the preseason all-conference team. Utah's preseason all-conference honorees - all seniors - are linebacker Stevenson Sylvester (one of just three unanimous picks), offensive tackle Zane Beadles, running back Matt Asiata, defensive end Koa Misi and defensive back Robert Johnson. Beadles is the only first-team returner from last year's undefeated Sugar Bowl champion team that finished with a No. 2 national ranking.
UTES TO WATCH
- Senior OT Zane Beadles (2008 first-team all-MWC, three-year starter)
- Senior LB Stevenson Sylvester (2008 second-team all-MWC, 73 tackles)
- Senior DE Koa Misi (2008 second-team all-MWC, has averaged 8.25 TFL a season)
- Senior free safety Robert Johnson (seven career interceptions, 2007 honorable mention all-MWC)
- Senior RB Matt Asiata (led 2008 Utes with 707 yards and 12 TDs, while averaging 4.8 yards per rush)
- Senior safety Joe Dale (two game-saving INTs, 2007 Poinsettia Bowl Defensive MVP)
- Senior WR David Reed (averaged 17.1 yards per reception with 6 TDs, honorable mention all-MWC kick returner)
- Senior LB Mike Wright (led 2008 Utes with 81 tackles, honorable mention all-MWC)
- Junior OG Caleb Schlauderaff (46 pancake blocks, 31 knockdowns and 19 cuts in 2008)
- Junior OL Zane Taylor (2008 honorable mention all-MWC)