Utah football: Oliver making move up RB depth chart for Utes
Jarrell Oliver's father kept things simple when he was teaching his son how to play the running back position. He just told him to run straight ahead.
Oliver, now a freshman running back for the Utes, continues to follow that advice today. Not only is he running straight upfield, but also straight up the depth chart.
The 5-foot-8, 210-pounder out of Sugar Land, Texas, was one of the pleasant surprises of Utah's fall camp.
He was good enough to pull even with junior college transfer Kelvin York for the No. 2 spot behind returning starter John White.
While the 5-11, 223-pound York is bigger, Oliver consistently reeled off big runs by blasting through the heart of Utah's defense, just like his dad taught him how to do.
"I'm a North-South runner, I don't like East-West," Oliver said. "The touchdown is straight ahead and that's where I am running to."
Oliver's logic makes good sense, and his ability to blast through the line should earn him playing time.
White is expected to shoulder the majority of the carries, but the Utes want to spread some of the carries to the other backs, and Oliver's style is a nice complement to that of York's.
"He is an efficient runner with very little wasted energy," coach Kyle Whittingham said of Oliver. "Those are the things you look for in a back. Kelvin is a little niftier on the outside, but they are both good players and will get an opportunity to relieve John."
The Utes head into their regular game-planning mode on Monday as they prepare for the opener against Northern Colorado on Aug. 30.
While there are plenty of areas that need work and still undecided spots on the depth chart, the Utes feel they are on target for the opener.
"We still have some execution things to work on," quarterback Jordan Wynn said. "But we will get there. We still have 12 days and it's vital we can't take a day off, we have to keep working."
Back in line
Cornerback Reggie Topps, who was suspended indefinitely in the spring for a violation of team rules, will likely be reinstated Monday. Topps, a senior, played in all 13 games last year, finishing with 33 tackles and two sacks.
"He has had a good camp and has done everything we've asked of him," Whittingham said.