Speed has always been Javelin Guidry’s most outstanding physical gift, but his ability to learn quickly has proved his biggest attribute during Utah’s preseason football camp.

Guidry, a 5-foot-9, 188-pound former high school football and track standout in both Texas and California, came into camp as a young cornerback with elite speed. In a relatively short period of time, the freshman has taken steps toward transforming himself into a potential defensive playmaker.

“He’s maybe 5-9 ½ but he’s so hard to get on top of so quarterbacks think they have a window or an angle to slide a ball in. He takes it away,” Utes cornerbacks coach Sharrieff Shah said of Guidry. “That speed is unbelievable to watch as a defensive coach. He makes plays in ways that nobody should ever make a play. I’m like, I don’t know how he got to that ball. Only he could do it with the kind of quickness and speed that he could turn on and his level of acceleration.”

Guidry’s ability to cover ground has been widely documented. He ran a 4.35-second 40-yard dash at The Opening Regionals in Dallas in the spring of 2016. This past spring, he set the California all-conditions state record in the 100 meters (10.13 seconds) to win the state title one year after winning a Texas state title in the 100.

About Javelin Guidry

Position: Cornerback

Class: Freshman

Height: 5-9

Weight: 188 pounds

Hometown: Murrieta, Calif.

Good genes: His father, Javelin Sr., played defensive back for UCLA from 1994-97, and his uncle, Paul, played defensive back for UCLA from 1993-96.

Prep accolades: He was rated a three-star recruit by 247Sports and a four-star recruit by ESPN.com. … Earned First-Team All-Southwestern League honors as a senior at Vista Murrieta High School where he also rushed for 589 yards and three touchdowns and logged 233 yards receiving. … He spent his first three years of high school in Texas, and won the 2016 Texas 5A state championship in the 100 meters. … This past spring, he set a California state record for fastest all-conditions time in the 100 meters (10.13 seconds) and also placed fourth in the 200 meters. … Has been clocked at 4.35 seconds in the 40-yard dash.

Speed and playing defensive back run in Guidry’s bloodlines. His father, Javelin Sr., and his uncle, Paul, started at cornerback opposite one another for UCLA in the mid-1990s.

Despite the lineage, Guidry didn’t immediately embrace the family’s defensive back legacy. His father served as one of his coaches in youth football, and tried to teach him the position. At the time, Guidry let those lessons go in one ear and out the other. He was preoccupied with the other side of the ball.

“Growing up I really wanted to play running back,” Guidry said. “That’s all I played, running back. I just played defense because my dad did it. Once I got into the high school level, freshman year, my dad started being serious. [He told me] running back won’t get you long [to play]. Just facing facts, it won’t get you a long career. [Defensive back] will get you a long career, not getting hit in the head as much.”

Guidry learned a lot from his father – once he started listening – and both he and his teams flourished. He played on one Texas state championship team and another Texas state runner-up. Last year, after his family moved to California, he earned first-team All-Southwestern League honors in his lone season at Vista Murrieta High School. He recorded six interceptions and 31 passes defended last fall.

(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) University of Utah linebacker, Javelin Guidry (28), talks to the media after football practice, Monday, July 31, 2017.

However, his responsibilities as a high school defensive back were fairly limited.

“He’s really getting comfortable in his zone drops,” Shah said. “That’s been really a kind of a foreign concept to him because in high school they were like, ‘Hey, you guard that cat.’ They played cat defense. You take that cat. I got that cat. And he would shut that cat down, but here it’s not just playing man-to-man. You have to play schemes upon schemes upon schemes.”

Guidry, who is most likely to see time as nickleback, leaned on veteran players in the secondary to help him understand and execute the defensive concepts. He knows he’s no longer simply on an island.

“It’s a very big difference now because I’m understanding more of the zone stuff,” Guidry said. “Coach [Morgan] Scalley says it’s more about learning what everybody else is doing — in the zone stuff — more than what you’re doing.”

Shah has been impressed by Guidry’s patience, willingness to work on the little things — to practice his technique in the mirrors in the weight room. As camp has progressed, Shah saw Guidry even start baiting quarterbacks into making throws he knew he can get to and break up or intercept.

“The kid is athletic, fast, strong,” redshirt sophomore safety Philip Afia said. “He knows all of his stuff. It’s just a matter of just getting used to playing [our system] and being comfortable out there on the field. That’s the biggest transition when you go from high school to college, just your comfortability with the speed of play and everything. He has the athleticism and all that. He just needs to get his reps in and just get some experience, and he’ll be perfect.”

As far as that Guidry defensive back legacy, yet another chapter may soon be added. Guidry has a younger brother, Elisha, with whom he shared a defensive backfield for three seasons in high school. Elisha is a senior at Vista Murrieta this fall. He’s already gotten interest from Stanford and USC. If little brother ends up following the path to Salt Lake City, he’ll have a tutor waiting for him.