Kyle Whittingham announces significant Utah football injury

Plus, a Cam Rising update and more from Utes spring practices.

(Courtesy of Utah Athletics) Senior linebacker Levani Damuni looks on during a Utah Utes football spring practice on Tuesday, March 12, 2024 in Salt Lake City.

The Utah football team is 10 practices into the spring schedule. So far, the Utes have fared well health-wise while quarterback Cam Rising and tight end Brant Kuithe work the rust off after missing all of 2023 with injuries.

But there’s one exception.

Senior linebacker Levani Damuni suffered a lower leg injury that, from the way coach Kyle Whittingham put it, likely means he’ll miss a large portion of the 2024 season.

“That’s something that is going to be impactful,” Whittingham said.

Whittingham added that there have been some players who have missed “chunks of practices here and there,” as well as “some surgeries.” But, he said, the hope is those ailments won’t impact the team in the fall.

Damuni, a Utah native, transferred from Stanford in 2023. He played in every game last season and started in seven. He led the team with 87 tackles.

Cam Rising update

The Utes have had Rising throughout all of spring. Whittingham said it’s been “surreal” seeing him on the field and that he gives the offense “swagger.”

“That’s what we were missing last year,” Whittingham said.

Rising has looked mobile and smooth during spring practices so far. Last month, he said he was feeling “pretty dang close” to 100% healthy.

Whittingham said the improvement that has stood out from Rising has been his arm strength. But he’s seen an overall improvement as well.

“He’s shaken pretty much all the rust off,” Whittingham said. “He was a little rusty at the beginning. But through 10 practices, he’s really polished up his game.”

Rising said his arm has been feeling “really good” so far this spring.

“I’ve been working on it a lot since last year,” Rising said. “Ever since I hurt my knee, just making sure I’m getting my rotation and being able to plant off of it.”

Spring chippiness

During the short time media viewed practice Tuesday, freshman running back Mike Mitchell and senior linebacker Josh Calvert got into an altercation after a red zone sequence that Whittingham said would’ve resulted in an ejection if it were a real game.

But Whittingham spun the kerfuffle as a positive for the Utes.

“Chippy is good,” Whittingham said. “There’s nothing wrong with that as long as we learn from it and it doesn’t get out of hand. We had a learning moment there where somebody got a personal foul, would have been ejected. So we teach off of it.”

Rising also welcomed the chippiness.

“Whenever you’re going to the goal line and just being physical down there, there’s guys running full speed and it’s live work,” Rising said. “So it’s always going be competitive.”