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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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Utah player sidelined with concussion

Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said he is waiting for the official word from the program's medical staff, but he believes sophomore Reshawn Hooker, who was moved from linebacker to safety this week, has suffered a career-ending concussion.

Hooker, from Fontana, Calif., has a history of concussions and suffered another one during Wednesday's practice, Whittingham said on Thursday.

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Concussion rates are a growing concern for both college and pro football teams. The Pac-12 has initiated new contact rules for practices in an effort to cut down on the possibility of injuries and the NCAA has adopted a new "targeting," rule which calls for an immediate ejection if a defender targets a defenseless player, hitting him above the shoulders.

Whittingham acknowledged concussions are a "hot topic," and said it is up to the medical staff to judge whether or not a player is healthy enough to return to the sport.

"The overall concern is for his health," Whittingham said of Hooker.

Hooker played in three games last year. He became the Utes' "Plan B," for the safety spot since it appears JC transfer Tevin Carter won't join the team for several weeks, if at all.

Whittingham said the coaches haven't settled on a "Plan C," but are considering using Quade Chappuis, Tyron Morris-Edwards or Charles Henderson in the role.

More injury news: Sophomore running back Jarrell Oliver left practice early after injuring his left foot, the same one that hampered him last year...Senior Brian Blechen is only at "60 percent," in Whittingham's estimation as he continues to deal with lingering injury issues. Blechen does have a redshirt year available, but Whittingham said the coaches haven't reached the point where they might discuss redshirting him this year.

"If it gets much further down the road, it's something we have to take a look at," Whittingham said.

Offensive lineman Carlos Lozano, who has struggled to reach a playing weight, has left the team.

Thursday was the team's best day so far, with Whittingham noting quarterback Travis Wilson and linebacker Gionni Paul had standout days.

Paul, who transferred from Miami, will redshirt this year unless NCAA sanctions against Miami allow transfers to play immediately.

Freshman Andy Phillips has the edge on the kicking duties.

- Lya Wodraska



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