One of Kyle Whittingham’s favorite weapons enters the transfer portal

The true freshman Mikey Matthews made an impact as a slot receiver and as the Utes’ primary kickoff and punt returner.

Utah football coach Kyle Whittingham said during Tuesday’s practice that the Utes would “have a different look” for the Las Vegas Bowl than it did for the season finale vs. Colorado owing to injuries, NFL draft declarations, and transfer portal entrants.

A day later, his statement proved even more prescient.

The Utah team was dealt a significant blow Wednesday as wide receiver Mikey Matthews has entered the transfer portal — a move he confirmed in a social media retweet.

The freshman wideout from Irvine, Calif., earned raved reviews from coaches during spring and fall camps, and then went on to become one of the Utes’ most consistent offensive options during the season.

Just 5-foot-8 and 180 pounds, Matthews proved to be a shifty threat out of the slot, despite the team’s season-long quarterback woes. He would appear in all 12 games during the regular season, which included six starts. He totaled 29 catches for 261 yards, and one rush for four yards.

He had season-highs of seven receptions for 53 yards in Utah’s Oct. 14 victory over Cal.

Matthews was arguably Utah’s second-best wideout behind veteran Devaughn Vele, who has declared for the NFL draft, but remains with the U. program for now.

He certainly made an impression on head coach Kyle Whittingham.

“Love how tough he is. He is a tough kid,” Whittingham said. “The lights are not too bright. When he goes in the game, he’s not in awe, he’s not overwhelmed. He’s a baller. I mean, he goes out and makes plays.”

The freshman also became Utah’s primary return man on both kickoffs (15 returns for 309 yards) and punts (17 returns for 75 yards), taking over the latter following a season-ending injury to fellow receiver Mycah Pittman.