Kyle Whittingham’s worst fears from Saturday night have been confirmed.
The University of Utah football coach on Monday morning announced that senior tight end Brant Kuithe will miss the remainder of the season with a lower leg injury.
“That’s a big blow to our offense,” Whittingham said. “He was a huge part of what we do offensively. But we’ll have to have guys step up and and pick up the slack.”
Whittingham added that if Kuithe wants to return next season, that option is available to him.
Junior tight end Thomas Yassmin, who only started playing football in 2018, “will take most of the reps that would be typically for Brant,” Whittingham said.
Yassmin’s main sport was rugby before playing for the University of Utah. He said later Monday that while he knew it would be a challenge to get playing time, he thought his number would be called sooner than it has.
“It’s been a long road,” Yassmin said. “It’s unfortunate it sort of came about this way, but I’ve been sort of hanging for opportunities here and there and just sort of just doing what I can. So at the end of the day, I’m going to make the most of what I have right now and just sort of take that on a hundred percent.”
Kuithe and Yassmin have been close friends for the past four years. So when Kuithe went down with the injury against Arizona State, Yassmin was “heartbroken.” Yassmin is grateful that the coaches will now be giving him more touches not just because of the injury situation, but because they actually have faith in him.
“I’m sort of relieved in the fact that the coaches do have the belief in me and they’re not sort of just saying that for that reason,” Yassmin said. “They genuinely believe I can go out there, do things that I’m good at and sort of use my body how I can and just make the most of that opportunity.”
Yassmin had one catch for 72 yards on Saturday.
Utah’s leading receiver and a three-time All-Pac-12 tight end, Kuithe exited Saturday night’s 34-13 win over Arizona State with an apparent knee injury sustained on the final play of the first quarter. Whittingham said postgame that he believed Kuithe would be lost for the season.
On the final play of the first quarter, Kuithe came up gimpy after hauling in his second catch of the night, an 11-yard strike from Rising down to the Utah 28-yard line. The three-time All-Pac-12 tight end was helped to the injury tent, where he spent 20 minutes of real time. He peeked his head out of the tent with 5:14 to play in the first half without his shoulder pads and a towel over his head. Kuithe eventually emerged from the tent with his right knee wrapped in ice before taking crutches and having a seat on the bench.
It is unlikely, but Kuithe does have the option to return for a sixth year in 2023 since this injury happened in his fourth game and he has not taken a redshirt during his career.