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Utes good at finding diamonds in the rough

Published September 4, 2012 4:39 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Remember the names of quarterback Adam Schulz and defensive back Tyler White, freshmen who were awarded scholarships following Wednesday's practice. They could turn out to be important players for the Utes. Often walk-ons who are awarded scholarships might earn some playing time here or there with programs, but are never really known as impact players. But the Utes have a great history of turning walk-ons into steady contributors players. Defenders such as Matt Martinez, Mike Wright and Chaz Walker all earned starting roles in recent years after walking onto the team. In his eight years as the head coach, Kyle Whittingham estimates the Utes have awarded almost 50 scholarships to walk-ons, a group of players he values more than a bunch of warm bodies to fill out the scout team. Even this year, with the Utes having put together several strong recruiting classes, Whittingham believes a handful of walk-ons are going to be impact players. "Typically it's six, eight or 10 who are a factor for us," he said. No other walk-ons will be awarded scholarships this year since the Utes are now maxed out on scholarships. The limited number he had to give made Whittingham's decision difficult. "We had two or three other guys on the cusp who were very deserving," he said.Here are some of the players who have walked onto the team that figure into Utah's regular rotations.Quade Chappuis - Walked on in 2009, awarded a scholarship last year, will start at strong safety while Brian Blechen serves a 3-game suspensionDave Fagergren - Walk-on played in 13 games last year, slotted as a backup linebacker for 2012Kala Friel - Offensive lineman walked on in 2009 and was awarded scholarship last year, could see time at tackle this year after strong campPatrick Greene - Snapper was awarded a scholarship in 2010 and has snapped every ball in the kicking game the last three years, total of 400 snapsChandler Johnson - Son of former Utah great Eddie Johnson is a backup cornerTyron Morris-Edwards - Former walk-on will play at free safety after a strong campGeoff Norwood - Walk-on has beat out several scholarship players to earn a spot in the receiver rotation, watch this guy, coaches are extremely excited about himThretton Palamo - Former rugby star now a backup defensive endColeman Petersen - Former walk-on was an honorable mention all-Pac 12 kicker in 2011Trevor Reilly - Former walk-on will play at linebacker and defensive end and is regarded as one of Utah's top defendersKarl Williams - Backup fullback played in 13 games last year