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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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Slimmer Jeremiah Poutasi slides back to tackle for Utes (VIDEO)

Wondering what a 6-foot-6, 320-pound lineman eats for breakfast? Jeremiah Poutasi will tell you.

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Two apples and a yogurt. When he's about to work out — and he's feeling extra self-indulgent — he'll toss in a granola bar.

If that seems to be a Spartan diet, consider that what he eats is why Poutasi is down from a scale-tipping 350 pounds. And that body change is one of the biggest reasons the Utes have moved him back to left tackle after he started the spring at left guard.

"It's the lightest I've ever been since I've gotten here," Poutasi said. "I played tackle today, and I felt faster than I've ever been."

The Utes are counting on Poutasi to play fast — faster than he did last year. As a sophomore, the mammoth tackle struggled against speedier Pac-12 rushers, including USC's Morgan Breslin and UCLA's Anthony Barr.

Coach Kyle Whittingham said it wasn't just the weight: Poutasi also had an injury during the season that slowed him down, leaving him to be a turnstile against some of the conference's elite defensive ends.

"He had a knee that was really bothering him last season," Whittingham said. "He won't say anything and he won't make excuses, but he was not himself last season. You look at the freshman tape and last year's tape, you can tell."

No excuses for him this season. This spring, Poutasi is one of the most experienced players on the line, and he can't just lead with his play — he's expected to show more leadership as well.

He acknowledged that he felt guard was more of his "natural position," but coaches wanted to see him at tackle. So he's playing tackle.

In a way, it's a chance for Poutasi to show that he's capable of playing the position after not faring well last year.

"I didn't succeed to my expectations last season," he said. "I didn't do what I thought I would. But the only thing I can do is come back this season and keep on fighting."

It was only one day, but Whittingham paid Poutasi some high praise with comparisons against Utes past. The coaching staff believes he'll be one of the next Utah offensive linemen to hack it in the NFL.

"He's worked hard, and he's moving his feet exceptionally well," Whittingham said. "I see him a lot like Zane Beadles, Tony Bergstrom — these guys who played tackle for us, but at the next level moved inside. I see him in that exact same mold."

Kyle Goon

kgoon@sltrib.com

Twitter: @kylegoon



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