Stand in the shadow of his 6-foot-4 frame for a few minutes and listen to him oppose the star-system — not to mention much of what comes along with being a top recruit — and it’s not hard to see how he has consistently caught the eye of Kyle Whittingham since his arrival on campus this summer. It’s not hard to see why Solomon Enis is viewed as the now and what lies ahead.
“Honestly, stars and stuff don’t really matter to me,” Enis said. “I feel like it’s biased, anyway. It’s just politics. So coming in here, it’s college football. You’ve got to outwork the guy next to you.”
Ideally, he’d like to leave the days of the four-star recruit behind, when he had the nation’s top programs chasing him, each envisioning him as a deep outside threat in their respective offenses. Enis knows he’s no longer a high school standout, able to just rely on his natural gifts to shine on the field the way he did during his time at North Canyon High School in Phoenix, Ariz.
He’s still learning the ins-and-outs of life as a student-athlete, capitalizing on all the food options in the Utah football complex and finding extra time to sleep when it presents itself.
UTAH AT NORTHERN ILLINOIS
When • Saturday, 5:30 p.m. MDT
TV • ESPNews
Utah continues to evolve in its second year under offensive coordinator Troy Taylor, crossing its fingers that the versatile attack can attract the highly sought-after skill position players that, maybe in year’s past, the Utes missed out on. Enis might be the start. He is, however, quick to downplay whatever pressure might be placed upon him by the fan base or media members.
“You can’t really come in here on words and hopes and dreams,” he said.
Clearly, the kid gets it. And an attitude like that is likely music to the ears of Utah coaches, players and even fans, too. The Utes got a big receiver, who was once ranked the No. 1 recruit in Arizona, and beat out the likes of USC, Arizona State and Penn State, the alma mater of Enis’ father, Curtis, who was also a Top 5 pick in the NFL Draft.
“We have high expectations of Solomon,” Whittingham said. “He’s a guy who has tremendous upside.”
Enis was one of 19 players who made their debut in the 41-10 win over Weber State in the season-opener. He was one of seven true freshmen to trot out onto the field for the first time, too. He made two catches for 34 yards, including a 29-yarder down the Utah sideline. His size and speed flustered a Weber State cornerback and drew a pass interference penalty, too. As Whittingham said, everyone got a taste of what his capabilities are.
“He’s going to continue to get playing time,” Whittingham added.
What Enis provides to Utah’s offense in 2018 is what they had plenty of a year ago, but are now lacking. Last season, quarterback Tyler Huntley had tall targets like Darren Carrington II and Raelon Singleton. This year, jump balls that went to the former Utes in 2017, could be headed Enis’ way.
“He’s a big receiver,” Huntley said. “It’s nice to get him the ball. I like to see him out there.”
How would Enis describe himself as a fit for this offense?
“I can catch the ball and I can run,” he said. “I’m a tall, lanky guy, and people don’t really know how fast I really am. I’ve got to work on some stuff, getting in and out of my breaks since I’m a bigger guy, but I just feel like once I get the ball in my hands in the open field, it’s over.”
His senior year at North Canyon backs it up. Enis had 1,670 all-purpose yards, including 46 receptions for 820 yards receiving and eight touchdowns. In all, he accounted for 14 touchdowns his last year. They came through the air, on the ground, in punt returns and even on a pass. Enis does not seem to be rattled by any moment or scenario early on, his teammates say.
“He’s not going to take no for an answer,” junior wideout Siaosi Mariner said. “He’s always looking for ways to improve his game and things like that. He’s excited to learn. He’s always asking questions. He’s just willing. It’s going to payoff for him because people like that, they can only go up.”
Enis certainly can. He showed so in his debut.
“It just felt like a practice with people watching,” he said. “I feel like we prepared so much that I wasn’t nervous or anything.”
Again, early on, the kid is living up to the hype — even if the hype itself is mostly devised from all the noise outside Rice-Eccles Stadium and Utah’s football complex. To him, he knows it’s potentially all fleeting, so he refuses to concede ground. Not to the pressure or opposing defensive backs.
“The glory and the hype, it doesn’t really mean anything,” Enis said. “You could fade away in a day, and people could keep moving on with their lives. You’ve just got to come in and work.”
UTAH WIDE RECEIVER SOLOMON ENIS
Height » 6-foot-4
Weight » 196 pounds
Position » Wide receiver
Class » Freshman
Hometown » Phoenix, Ariz.
High expectations » Former four-star recruit from North Canyon High School in Phoenix, Ariz. ... 1,670 all-purpose yards as a senior included 46 receptions for 820 yards and eight touchdowns and 46 carries for 450 yards and three touchdowns … also had three kick returns for 176 yards and three punt returns for 137 yards and two touchdowns. ... Had 2 receptions for 34 yards in his Utah debut against Weber State. ... Chose Utah over USC, ASU, Penn State and more.