Las Vegas • Whenever he attended games at Sam Boyd Stadium, Utah receiver DeVonte Christopher let his mind wander into the future and imagined he, too, might be a regular in the stadium as a member of UNLV's football team.
But that childhood scenario never played out for the sophomore, luckily for him.
Instead of playing for the struggling Rebels, Christopher has returned to his hometown as a top receiver for the No. 20 Utes (10-2) to play No. 10 Boise State (11-1) in the Las Vegas Bowl.
It isn't a bad twist of fate for Christopher, a former quarterback for Canyon Springs High who was the 2007 Nevada Player of the Year.
Despite his high-school success, UNLV was late in recruiting him so Christopher packed his bags and headed to Utah. Now he gets to show his home city how much he has grown by playing in a nationally televised bowl against the BCS darlings from Idaho. It's a near dream situation for him, Christopher said.
"I'm going to have over 100 friends and family members at the game," Christopher said. "It's going to be a lot of fun, especially going to Sam Boyd Stadium, where I'd go to see bowl games in the past."
Christopher leads the Utes in receiving yards (660) and touchdown catches (six) despite missing the Air Force game with a knee injury.
He has fully embraced the role of receiver after switching to the position for the 2009 season and should be a big factor for the Utes on Wednesday along with another Las Vegas product, running back Eddie Wide, Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said.
"Both have made a huge impact for us," Whittingham said. "Last year when Matt [Asiata] went down, the success last year we had in the run game was the ability of Eddie Wide. This year, DeVonte is just a sophomore, but he is very good and is an unselfish player who has gotten better and better."
While Wide is splitting time with Asiata, dropping his average to 56.9 yards a game from 100.2 as a starter last year after Asiata went down, Christopher's numbers have been up and down this year too. He has three games of 100-plus yards and four with two catches or fewer.
The inconsistent numbers don't bother him as much as they seem to bother others, Christopher said.
"I never understood why people say we fall off in games; we just use different game plans," he said. "We key on whoever is open. We have a lot of depth and we are all capable of playing well."
While he'd love to be a star for the Utes on Wednesday, Christopher is prepared to take a lesser role, as long as the outcome is a good one.
"The most important thing is I hate losing," he said. "I am all for winning and I'll do whatever I have to do."
6-1, 195, So.
• Honorable mention all-MWC
• Fourth in conference in receiving yards per game (60.0)
• Averaging 16.9 yards per catch
• Three 100-plus yard games