Ray Stowers has gone through all the long hours, sweat and grind of another fall camp with the Utes knowing his chances to play in 2009 will be few and far between.
The thought of all that work for very little action on the football field doesn't bother the senior at all.
Stowers, a running back who once competed for the starting role in 2007 when Matt Asiata was injured, is now deep on the running back depth chart.
Ahead of him are Asiata, junior Eddie Wide and freshman Sausan Shakerin . But knowing he was going to be so far down didn't stop Stowers from applying for a medical hardship extension in December, which gave him a sixth year.
"I'm grateful for the opportunity to help out the team this year and go for another undefeated season, hopefully," he said. "The program has helped me out, I got my degree out of here, and I wanted to see if I could contribute in any way. Either if it's offense or special teams or even in practice, I want to get the team better in any way I can."
Stowers had surgery on an injured shoulder in 2005, the effects of which still linger.
Utah coach Kyle Whittingham hopes Stowers can contribute on the field, but said he is just as valuable to the team in practice.
"He understands the expectations and sets a good example for the younger players," he said. "He always puts the team first, which is what you want in your program. You always have a place in your program for guys like that."
Stowers has a degree in economics and is taking more classes with the hopes of opening his own Hawaiian restaurant some day so he can show off his cooking talents.
In the meantime, he'll enjoy whatever time he gets on the field.
"I'm just proud to be a Ute," he said.
Holding the line
Utah's offensive line went through some shuffling Tuesday thanks to several injuries. Left guard Caleb Schlauderaff went down with a left knee injury while right guard Walter Watts (scope on his knee) and his backup Tevita Stevens (flu) missed practice.
Whittingham was unsure how serious Schlauderaff's injury was. The junior was up walking around after the injury, but was taken to the practice facility from the stadium by a cart after practice.
With all the holes in the line, center Zane Taylor moved to right guard and backup center Tyler Williams took his place. Whittingham said it's likely the line will remain that way until the injured players return.
Whittingham said he was "optimistic" Watts would return in time for the season opener.
Whittingham said defensive back Maxwell Lacy , a JC transfer, won't join the team for the 2009 season. The Utes should know this week if receiver Ray Magee will enroll. ... No change in lineman Koa Misi 's questionable status. ... Misi, Asiata, linebacker Stevenson Sylvester and offensive lineman Zane Beadles were voted team captains.