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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 football camp round-up: Standout? Fuggedaboutit. It’s 8-year-old Mac Brennan

Kyle Whittingham spent much of Tuesday’s practice soliciting thoughts from a young assistant who’s nowhere on the payroll.

He wore a Utah shirt and Batman shorts. He’s in second grade. And he gives one mean pep talk.

Eight-year-old Mac Brennan told the Utes after practice Tuesday that he’d had a bone marrow test last Friday and that the test came back cancer-free, drawing a roar of approval from the huddled players and coaches.

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You may remember Mac from his role with the Runnin’ Utes, as chronicled by Sports Illustrated. Well, it turns out he’s also well-known by the U.’s football staff — particularly running backs coach Dennis Erickson, who like Whittingham often asks Mac for his opinion.

"It means the world to him," said Mac’s dad, Kyle, the U.’s senior associate athletics director for administration. "He watches film. He plans for practice."

Kyle brought Mac to work with him Tuesday — his son’s white cell counts are too low for him to go to school. Around 10:30 a.m., they received a call from Mac’s mom, Beth, the coordinator of football academics, saying that the test results were in a day early, and they were exactly what they’d been waiting for.

"He was just jumping up and down like it was Christmas," said Kyle. "He’s [been] happy, but I haven’t seen him happy like that in six months."

Mac still has multiple stays in the hospital coming up and he will continue to go for chemotherapy treatments for three years after that.

But "all that’s tolerable now knowing that it’s working," Kyle said. "He said today, ‘I’m beating the cancer.’"

And oh, yeah. The Utes played some football:


DEFENSIVE HIGHLIGHT » Sophomore defensive end Pita Taumoepenu’s reign of terror continues. Taumoepenu sacked the quarterback twice to lead a dominant effort from the defense in two-minute drills.

OFFENSIVE HIGHLIGHT » Junior wideout Dres Anderson is such a constant producer that it almost never seems worth mentioning. But The Tribune appreciates Anderson (Twitter: @DrizzyDrezz6) tweeting sltrib.com links for his communications class, so in return we’ll highlight his end-zone catch over redshirt freshman safety Evan Eggiman. (Even if it came after junior quarterback Travis Wilson was ruled sacked by junior defensive tackle Daniel Nielsen.)

STANDOUTS » Sophomore Marcus Sanders-Williams followed an excellent scrimmage performance by refusing to be stopped for the first half of practice. Defensively, junior linebacker Jared Norris gets the nod for being the man to stuff Sanders-Williams for a big loss toward the tail end of practice.

KEEP AN EYE ON » The offensive line. The offense struggled in 11-on-11 work Tuesday, and Whittingham after practice attributed that to the return of junior defensive tackle Viliseni Fauonuku and an uninspiring effort from the guys up front. Whittingham said after practice that they’re continuing to "mix and match" to find the five best guys, and that he’s been very impressed by a slimmed-down Jeremiah Poutasi and junior center Siaosi Aiono. The other three spots are TBD.

QUOTE OF THE DAY » Whittingham on the "Utah Man" imbroglio: "I don’t even know what ‘gender-neutral’ is, so it’s not my concern."

— Matthew Piper


Twitter: @matthew_piper

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

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