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Utah football notes: WR Ryan Petersen goes from MUSS game MVP to walk-on (video)
Recruiting is Job 1, as they like to say, and Utah's coaches travel from coast to coast in search of the best available athletes.
In wide receiver Ryan Petersen's case, they didn't have to leave the stadium.
Petersen was named the MVP in the last two MUSS flag-football games, held before the Red-White spring game at Rice-Eccles, so Kyle Whittingham asked him to work out and lift with the team this summer. The Twin Falls native took him up on it, and now he's one of 19 new walk-ons on the 105-man fall camp roster.
"He's fast," Whittingham said. "He's got quickness to him, and so we invited him out, and he's doing a nice job and he may show up on special teams. We'll see what happens."
A 5'11 senior, Petersen hasn't played organized tackle football since high school. Back then he was a middle linebacker, and he had to hang up his cleats after a pair of knee injuries.
His new team rates a tad better than the old MUSS gangmates, he says.
"It's a whole new world. These guys are incredible athletes — really, at any position —and this is one of the best conferences in college football. ... Jumping straight into that has been a huge eye-opener for me, but I've enjoyed it."
Petersen has also played club baseball at the U. and for a men's basketball team that scrimmages against the varsity Utah women.
Youth movement » Youth abounds on the defensive side of a new depth chart released Monday, with four freshmen gracing the two-deep.
Lowell Lotulelei, younger brother of all-everything Star, becomes co-starter at nose tackle with Sese Ianu and Stevie Tu'ikolovatu. Travonne Hobbs is a co-backup at corner with sophomore Mo Talley. And safeties Marcus Williams and Andre Godfrey are back-ups at the free and strong spots, respectively.
Meanwhile, sophomore Reginald Porter continues to occupy a No. 1 slot (splitting it with senior Davion Orphey) after standout play throughout the first week.
"Reggie Porter's playing the best football that he's played since he's been here," Whittingham said. "He's completely dialed in and focused."
Sophomore Brian Allen also earned a mention on the strong safety two-deep — which is not too shabby given that he was a wide receiver through spring ball.
The other defensive tackle position is another logjam, with Viliseni Fauonuku, Filipo Mokofisi and Clint Shepard co-starting. That's six co-starters at two spots, and Whittingham indicated after practice that fans might see a defensive tackle rotation when the season kicks off.
Depth thoughts » Also of interest on the new two-deep (we think), is that Isaac Asiata is penciled in at right guard, while J.J. Dielman gets the nod at starting right tackle — followed by true freshman Jackson Barton.