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Utah football: Freshman safety Williams says he’s ready if needed
Utah notes » Williams impresses coaches during camp.


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"I always want to prove that I can do whatever they ask me to do," he said. "I want to show them I can play wherever the team needs me."

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Scouts about » NFL scouts from nine NFL teams were on hand for Thursday afternoon’s practice, including representatives from Arizona, Philadelphia, Carolina, Jacksonville, San Diego, Denver, New York, Kansas City and New England.

"The players certainly realize that they’re out here," Whittingham said. "We keep camp closed until one week out, which today was that first day, so it’s always a little bit of a motivational factor for the players to see the scouts out there watching them and taking notes."

Whittingham said he thinks Utah has players on every team that sent a scout, and that at 31 or so on NFL rosters right now, it might be an all-time high.

***

You scream, they scream » They teed off. They hit baseballs. They swam. They caught mile-high punts and they shot hoops. Thursday, the Camp Kyle Olympics wrapped up with ... an ice-cream eating contest.

A real, live ice cream truck rolled up, bells and all, and delivered a row of ice cream bars for Utah’s nine player group delegates. The player to eat the most ice cream bars in the allotted time won his team an astronomical amount of points, toward some unknown end, and the winner was ... unclear. Nobody, maybe? Sources say there were some issues with the judging, but anyhow, watch for yourself:

***

Rowe v. Anderson » There might be no better barometer for how Eric Rowe can play corner than how he’s faring against Dres Anderson.

The two seniors have been matched up often throughout the fall. Unfortunately for Rowe, Instagram has documented at least one of his more forgettable moments in that rivalry, when Anderson burned him for a long touchdown pass.

Anderson’s fast feet make him a tough match-up for most cornerbacks, and the way he’s had substantial success in practice may be concerning when the Utes face receivers such as ASU’s Jaelen Strong or USC’s Nelson Agholor this fall. But Rowe has been making progress, Anderson said.

Rowe’s physicality helps at the line, and his one-on-one skills are getting better.

"I can tell when he first started out, it was a little shaky making that transition from safety to corner," he said. "I bet it’s been hard. But he’s doing better and better. I’m happy he’s been going with me because it’s just good competition."

***

Young looking to mature » Kenric Young’s speed and sure-handedness has stuck out among the younger receivers. Kyle Whittingham has said Young may travel with the team this year and see some game action. His teammates think he has promise as well.

"He’s been developing," Anderson said. "It’s been coming a long way, but he’s been getting better and better every day. He’s going to be a big playmaker here one day."

Coach Taylor Stubblefield said he thinks Young also has done nice things, but as with any freshman, there’s work to do on focus, knowing the playbook, and other mental aspects of the game.

"Kenric has a lot of talent," he said. "Mentally we’ve got to get him to mature a little bit to really allow him to become the player he has the ability to be one day."

***

Starting small » The receivers as a whole may have been the best group of fall camp, but Stubblefield isn’t quite satisfied: He’d like additional consistency out of the group.

While everyone loves a good "home run" play — the old 50-yard bomb to the end zone — Stubblefield said in this offense, the receivers need to chip away efficiently before they can be deep threats.

"Really what they’re asked to do is to make the routine play," he said. "Whether it’s down the field, whether it’s a five-yard hitch, we want to make sure we can take care of the little things so that they turn into big things."

Does that mean most of the offense will be short stuff? Not necessarily, Stubblefield said. There’s a variety of looks the offense can show, from drop back short, to play action, to any number of set-ups. The important thing for him is that the Utes take some yards away on every snap.

"We have a lot we can do a lot in this offense," he said. "At the end of the day, it’s all about executing."

***

Utah Man, not fan » After an alternate, gender-neutral version of the lyrics was created during the offseason, the Utes decided they will sing the original Utah Man song, said Whittingham.

They put it to a team vote, he said. Next on the players’ ballots is team captaincies, on Friday night.

***

Camp cool-down » Whittingham said he’s pleased with the progress made during camp, and the reason he canceled Thursday morning’s scrimmage and has cut down on the volume of work is that he wants his players at 100 percent on Aug. 28 against Idaho State. Specifically, 100 percent physically.

"There’s being fresh and there’s being ready," he said. "You’d like to be both. If something’s gotta give, you want to err on the side of being fresh."

Sophomore cornerback Reginald Porter is the only major injury loss for Utah this fall camp.

***

Highlight » We didn’t witness much, but sophomore tight end Siale Fakailoatonga made a nice grab in traffic along the left sideline on a throw from Kendal Thompson. He seems to have made an impression on the coaches, too, after briefly falling behind Evan Moeai on the two-deep behind senior Westlee Tonga.

Standouts » Young gained separation twice across the middle in redzone work, and redshirt freshman quarterback Brandon Cox found him both times for scores.

Position spotlight » It’s just an observation, and maybe it means nothing, but redshirt freshman Filipo Mokofisi has run during the ones alongside Viliseni Fauonuku during the media-observed periods in the last couple practices. Coaches have praised Mokofisi’s physical attributes and hand skills since spring, and it suggests that he’s in the mix to play big minutes along with Sese Ianu, Clint Shepard and Lowell Lotulelei. Or it suggests nothing, and you should never listen to us.

Quote of the day » Freshman Jackson Barton told us he was sporting a quarter-shaved head to imitate junior defensive tackle Daniel Nielson at "Rookie Show," a skit the rookies put on for the veterans. We asked Whittingham about Barton’s hair, and then whether the Rookie Show would be shared with the greater world: "Absolutely not. That’s in-house. That never gets out. NEVER gets out."

— Matthew Piper and Kyle Goon

mpiper@sltrib.com

Twitter: @matthew_piper

kgoon@sltrib.com

Twitter: @kylegoon




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