Even though he is just a freshman, Jared Norris knows all about Utah’s tradition of producing great linebackers.
“Stevenson Sylvester, Matt Martinez, all those guys set high standards,” he said. “I’m trying to fit into their footsteps.”
So far the position is fitting him just fine.
Norris, a 6-foot-1, 230-pounder out of Bakersfield, Calif., has made several good plays in spring camp.
Right now he is battling for the starting spot at rover along with Dave Fagergren and Victor Spikes.
While a young group, the linebackers are promising to Utah coach Kyle Whittingham, who is encouraged by their progress.
“It’s going to be a strength for us again this year,” he said.
Hearing that kind of praise makes Norris smile, but he also knows he has a long way to go.
“We’re still getting all the basics down,” he said. “We’re working as hard as we can and hopefully it will all come together for us.”
It’s on Christopher
As the receiver with the most experience, senior DeVonte Christopher has been tabbed as “the guy,” by Whittingham to produce when the Utes need a receiver to step up.
“This is his year,” he said.
Christopher, who led Utah in receptions and receiving yards in 2011, said he is ready for the leadership role.
“I want to keep improving and show what I can do,” he said.
Christopher finished the regular season with 38 catches for 589 yards and four touchdowns, then had four catches for 74 yards and a touchdown in Utah’s Sun Bowl win over Georgia Tech.
Different name, same game
Utah quarterback Jordan Wynn said Brian Johnson’s offense isn’t much different from Norm Chow’s, so the Utes have had to do little adjusting.
“It’s not too big of a deal because there is similar stuff,” he said. “With him being the quarterback coach the last few years, it has been pretty easy.”
The 25-year-old Johnson has brought a bit of a spark to the game.
“He is definitely uptempo and exciting,” Wynn said.
Whittingham has liked his team’s progress through the first quarter of spring ball, but will get a better idea how the team is developing this week. The Utes will practice Tuesday and Thursday at Rice-Eccles Stadium from 3 to 5 p.m. then hold a scrimmage on Saturday from 10 a.m. to noon.
The scrimmage will offer the first chance to see how Johnson has influenced the offense.
“So far it has been a seamless transition,” Whittingham said of his new coordinator. “He has added a few wrinkles, but at this point we are still doing a lot of teaching.”