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Matt Piper and Kyle Goon
Matt Piper and Kyle Goon cover University of Utah sports teams for The Salt Lake Tribune. Matt Piper is on twitter at @matthew_piper, Kyle Goon is on twitter at @kylegoon

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Utes' young linebackers show promise

Utah's first day in pads gave a group of young linebackers a chance to shine Saturday as freshman Jared Norris, sophomore V.J. Fehoko and freshman LT Filiaga all made some nice plays.

One of Norris' plays was an interception of starting quarterback Jordan Wynn.

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"To me they were the highlight," Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said. "I'm liking that young group of linebackers."

Developing the group is crucial since the Utes lost leaders Chaz Walker and Matt Martinez.

"They are all underclassmen, freshmen and sophomores so if they continue to develop that will be very good," Whittingham said.

Fehoko, a 5-11, 223-pounder out of Honolulu, was happy with his play but said once the Utes get accustomed to pads the group will get even better.

"Once we get the pads on more, it's going to get ugly," he said.

Wynn made several spot-on throws to Kenneth Scott, Reggie Dunn and tight end Westlee Tonga.

"We had a couple mistakes but that is normal," he said. "All in all it was a pretty good first day."

Utah's offense had an easier time when senior defensive tackle Star Lotulelei was on the sideline, something that didn't get past Whittingham.

"Once we took Star out of the lineup on defense we got a lot cleaner, he said. "That is always the case."

Whittingham said there is no separation yet between backup quarterbacks Travis Wilson and Chase Hansen.

Sophomore defensive end Nate Fakahafua sat out the session with a twisted ankle but is expected to return to practice Tuesday. His absence meant Thretton Palamo, a converted running back, took most of the reps with the starters.

- Lya Wodraska

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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