Not often does a football player consider trips to Baskin-Robbins a crucial part of his offseason training program, but University of Utah defensive end Caleb Repp made milkshake runs nearly a nightly ritual.

Repp, a 6-foot-5 redshirt sophomore from Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., spent much of his time since the end of last season trying to bulk up for his transition from wide receiver to the defensive line.

“Physically, it was a lot more demanding than what I had to do because when I was at receiver, I was already a big receiver,” Repp said. “When I came to D-line, I was a small D-end. Physically, it was just more demanding. In the offseason, I was just working out every day, eating all throughout the day.”

Repp redshirted last year and weighed 205 pounds by season’s end. He said he’s now up to between 225 and 230 pounds. Keeping weight on typically has been difficult for Repp. That’s where the nightly milkshakes came into play.

Repp has had a lot thrown at him as far as switching sides of the ball and moving from the perimeter to the trenches. Repp readily admits he has a lot to learn in terms of using his hands in a different way, reading blockers and developing pass-rush moves.

“It was pretty different because I had never really even played defense my whole life,” Repp said. “I was always on the offensive side of the ball. Switching from two-point stands running routes, running 20 to 30 yards, to three-point stance only running 10 or 5 yards is pretty different.

“It was just more physical, but I like the physicality of it. I feel like once I get the weight, I’ll be better off with the physicality. Right now, the big guys are holding it down.”

Utes veteran defensive linemen such as Kylie Fitts have taken Repp under their wing. The two California natives occasionally worked out together during the offseason.

Utah defensive line coach Lewis Powell said Repp will compete for time this year. Going forward, Powell envisions Repp growing into a very athletic 240-pound defensive end with two years of eligibility left after this season.

“I think he’s going to flourish and do really well,” Powell said about Repp. “It’s something that we’ve done here for a long time. … We’d move a safety and the next thing you know he’s a starting defensive end. We’ll find those really athletic guys we think we can build on and put some weight on and make them rush the quarterback.”

Big-play atmosphere

Utes sophomore wide receiver Demari Simpkins described the difference between last year and this year as the offensive players being more relaxed, confident and ready to make plays due in part to their rapport with first-year offensive coordinator Troy Taylor.

“It’s more of buying in, more having fun and getting that relationship with our coach,” Simpkins said. “He’s always coming in the receiving room, laughing with us, joking with us. But at the same time, we get serious whenever that time comes. It’s just the relationship we have with coach Taylor. It’s just really great.”

RB race still on

Utes coach Kyle Whittingham acknowledged this week that junior running back Armand Shyne and sophomore Zack Moss lead the battle for the starting spot, with sophomore Devonta’e Henry-Cole third in the race.

Freshman back TJ Green ideally would be a candidate to redshirt. Of course, there’s still three weeks before the team’s first game.