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Red All Over: Ex-Ute C.J. Cron is having a nice season in Minnesota. And ex-Ute Donnie Tillman reportedly is visiting Rutgers.

(AP Photo/Stacy Bengs) Boston Red Sox's Andrew Benintendi slides safely back to first base against as Minnesota Twins' C.J. Cron, from the University of Utah, catches the ball from Michael Pineda during the first inning of a baseball game Tuesday, June 18, 2019, in Minneapolis.

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Thanks to his three years in the Utah baseball program and stints in Orem and Salt Lake City in the Los Angeles Angels’ system, C.J. Cron has a unique history in this state as a former Ute, Owl and Bee. Everything he’s doing currently for the Minnesota Twins distinguishes him even more. It helps that the Twins (48-25) are having a remarkable season, leading the AL Central by nine games.

The first baseman is batting .276 with 15 home runs and 47 RBIs, on pace for career highs offensively. Yet in many ways, while playing for a third major league team, Cron is doing what he's always done. He's a consistent hitter, staying around the .270 mark over parts of six seasons in the majors.

The Angels traded Cron after shuttling him back and forth between Anaheim and Salt Lake City. Tampa Bay waived him, to avoid paying a $5 million salary in 2019, even after he hit 30 homers for the Rays last season. He’s thriving in Minnesota and is almost certain to make his first playoff appearance since his rookie year in 2014.

Former Ute second baseman Oliver Dunn, an All-Pac-12 player as a junior this past season, is about to launch his career in the New York Yankees organization this summer as an 11th-round draft pick. Utah is awaiting a decision from another Cottonwood High School alumnus, pitcher Porter Hodge, who was drafted by the Chicago Cubs in the 13th round. He’s among five players who signed with the Utes in November and were drafted this month. That’s an annual variable for college baseball programs.

— The latest news regarding Utah basketball continues to go against the description of forward Donnie Tillman’s plans as a “leave of absence.” Tillman, having entered the NCAA transfer portal, is visiting Rutgers, according to multiple reports. A case could be made that New Jersey is closer to his family’s home in Michigan, assuming his mother moves back there from Las Vegas, amid her health concerns.

— Utah’s 2019 football roster is becoming more clear, with some personnel questions remaining. The Utes announced this week that the NCAA denied a waiver for quarterback Cameron Rising, who had hoped to become eligible to play in 2019 as a transfer from Texas. Rising will have three years to play beginning in 2020, when he expects to compete with Jason Shelley for the starting job. Utah did get some good news, with receiver Derrick Vickers being granted another year of eligibility, enabling him to play as a senior in 2019.

— Three of the five players who have said they’re transferring to Utah since spring practice ended in mid-April are now listed on the roster: Trennan Carlson, a linebacker from Ventura (Calif.) Junior College; Alex Locklear, an offensive lineman from Marshall University; and Noah Osur-Myers, an offensive lineman from Washington State (Locklear and Osur-Myers are graduate transfers). That means there’s news to come about two grad transfers from UCLA, kicker Andrew Strauch and linebacker Mique Juarez.

Another offensive lineman, Bamidele Olaseni, is on the roster, although Ute coach Kyle Whittingham told ESPN 700 that Olaseni has more academic work to complete at Garden City (Kan.) Community College.

The next checkpoint for Ute football is the Pac-12 Media Day, July 23 in Hollywood, Calif., where Whittingham, running back Zack Moss and defensive end Bradlee Anae will appear. I’ll continue to have periodic stories about the athletic program between now and then. Here’s my look at how Utah and the Pac-12 are committed to mental health awareness and treatment among athletes.

Other voices

Jon Wilner analyzes the Pac-12 North football programs (MERC). Note that the Utes will miss Stanford and Oregon in the 2019 scheduling rotation (MERC).

In the South, statistical expert Bill Connelly really likes Utah’s chances. (SBN).

John Canzano says Oregon’s high-profile season opener vs. Auburn is risky for the Ducks and the Pac-12 (ORE).

Dirk Facer of the Deseret News looks back at Utah’s 2019 baseball season (DNEWS).

Around campus

— After Ute athletes posted a record cumulative GPA of 3.25 in 2018-19, Chris Uchacz is coming from the University of Maryland as Utah’s senior associate athletic director for academic services. Ute athletic director Mark Harlan also announced new titles for nine staff members: Nona Richardson, executive senior associate AD; Steve Pyne, assistant AD of event management; Valerie Swensen, assistant AD for business and finance; Gavin Gough, assistant AD for facilities and capital management; Julia Colosimo, director of external operations; Sean Farrell, director of the Crimson Club; Malory Monson, director of event and facility management; Grant Robertson, director of marketing; and Jordie Lindley, associate director of communications.

— Former Ute golfer Kyler Dunkle finished fifth in his second start on the PGA Tour-branded Mackenzie Tour Canada, moving to No. 16 in the standings. The season’s top five players will advance to the Web.com Tour in 2020.

— Three Ute lacrosse assistant coaches are playing for Archers LC in the inaugural season of the Premier Lacrosse League, among six teams that stage a weekly tripleheader at various sites around the country (such as Baltimore, on Friday and Saturday). The team is 2-1, with Will Manny tied for second in the league with seven goals and Marcus Holman adding six. Adam Ghitelman is the goalkeeper.