Following Saturday's annual Red-White game, the person getting most of the attention from the media wasn't even a player or coach from the Ute football team.
It was former Ute All-American Eric Weddle, who "coached" the White team to an 18-10 victory and was involved in the most exciting play of the game while wearing his street clothes.
Weddle, who will begin his second year as a defensive back for the San Diego Chargers, was an "honorary" coach, per NCAA rules, but he couldn't help getting involved and inspiring his side to victory. He even received a Gatorade bath afterward.
"Having Eric as our coach was a definite plus," said quarterback Chad Manis. "He's fun to be around and kind of picks up everyone around him."
As for Weddle's play, it happened late in the third quarter after his team's third touchdown. Weddle came in to attempt the extra point since Utah's two placekickers were both on the Red team for some reason. Weddle's kick was blocked, and Justin Taplin-Ross suddenly took off up the east sidelines followed by yikes! Weddle, who was wearing a T-shirt, shorts and a backward baseball cap.
When Taplin-Ross got near midfield, he lateraled back to Sean Smith, who cut back across the field. Weddle chased Smith amid the 21 other players in full pads and nearly caught him twice before Smith got free and pranced into the end zone for the two-point defensive score.
If any Chargers' personnel had been watching, they would have likely had heart attacks seeing Weddle running all over the field trying to bring down Taplin-Ross and Smith in his shorts and T-shirt.
"They're not supposed to jump on that (PAT attempt) ... and that was going in," complained Weddle of his ill-fated kick. When asked if he was worried about getting hit by a fully padded Ute, Weddle said, "No, I was trying to (hit) someone, but I couldn't cut my shoes kept falling off."
UNHERALDED QB: Manis, who quarterbacked the White team to victory, has been sort of lost in the Utah quarterback shuffle this spring.
Everyone knows Brian Johnson is the starter, despite recovering from recent shoulder surgery, and Corbin Louks has shined throughout much of the spring before getting sidelined last week with a concussion. Devonte Christopher has received a fair amount of attention coming in early to spring camp when he should be a senior at Canyon Springs High School in Las Vegas.
Manis, who is known as a drop-back passer, finished with 6 of 13 passing for 68 yards and a touchdown, but more impressively ran seven times for 39 positive yards and two touchdowns from 8 and 5 yards out.
"I had fun today," said Manis. "This was my second spring game and I'm 1-1 now."
As for his fine running, he said, "I don't think people knew. They didn't expect it, but I knew."UTE NOTES: The west parking lot was overflowing as a crowd of approximately 5,000 attended the game ... Louie Sakoda, Utah's all-league punter and placekicker, had perhaps the shortest punt of his Ute career, a 7-yarder, in the second quarter. He did shank it, but the gusty wind from the south also helped push it back a ways ... The defense came up with three interceptions, with sophomore linebacker Chaz Walker weaving his way 56 yards after an interception of Christopher. Mo Neal picked off Manis in the end zone and Lisiate Leota intercepted Johnson in the first quarter ... Christopher was the game's top rusher with 84 net yards for the Red team. The top two rushers for the White team were Bo Hikila, a transfer from Snow College, and Junior Fonua, a transfer from Texas Southern, with 40 and 37 yards, respectively ... LDS apostle Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin, who played halfback for Utah in the 1930s, was on hand for the game ... Linebacker Toby Titus and defensive back R.J. Rice were the top two tacklers for the White with seven and six, respectively, while linebacker Greg Bird led the Red team with five.
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