Tom Smart, Deseret News
SALT LAKE CITY — Utah lost more than just a football game Saturday at Notre Dame. The 28-3 loss to the Fighting Irish also featured a career-ending injury and a season-ending one.
Sophomore running back Sausan Shakerin's suffered a concussion on the opening kickoff of the second half and has been "medically disqualified" from future play. He missed the first four games this season with "concussion symptoms" and has had a series of concussions in his career.
The former Alta High star, who in 2006 became the first junior ever to be named Utah's Mr. Football by the Deseret News, concluded his injury plagued collegiate career with 303 yards rushing on 48 carries. He scored three touchdowns and appeared in 15 games. His ran for 100 yards last season against New Mexico.
In addition, Shakerin caught five passes for 48 yards over the 2009 and 2010 seasons.
"Looking forward, he was the heir apparent to the running back position," said Utah coach Kyle Whittingham. "Obviously, that's a big change in plans now."
Shakerin was slated to step in as the Utes' primary back next season. This year's co-starters, Matt Asiata and Eddie Wide, are seniors.
"So losing him, obviously, throws a wrench into that plan," Whittingham said. "So we've got to go out and recruit. We're scheduled to take a couple of backs this year anyways."
Some, he added, will have to play sooner than anticipated.
"We need to go after high-profile running backs whether it's junior college or high school," Whittingham said. "And whoever we go after will have to be of the mindset they're coming here to play right away."
With inclusion in the Pac-12 next season, it'll be an attractive opportunity. As such, Whittingham and his staff are determined to get the best available running backs out there.
Junior linebacker J.J. Williams was also injured at Notre Dame. He re-aggravated a foot injury that limited him to just two games this season and will require surgery.
Williams, who made his first start of the year last week, finished the year with four tackles. In 28 career games with the Utes, he is credited with 79 stops.
OTHER INJURIES: Besides Shakerin and Williams, Whittingham updated other injuries on the team. He said that linebacker Chad Manis (ankle), tight end Westlee Tonga (knee) and tight end Brad Clifford (shoulder) should be back for Saturday's game at San Diego State. Defensive lineman Junior Tui'one (calf), however, is still on the bubble.
Defensive back Wykie Freeman (leg) is still a week or two away from returning.
BACK TO WORK: The Utes returned to practice Monday, holding their two-hour session inside the Spence Eccles Field House.
"It was good," Whittingham said. "Attitude is not a problem with this team."
Whittingham noted that it was a little bit different than the previous Monday after the lopsided loss at home TCU.
"We've still got to find a way to get back on track," he said. "That's the bottom line."
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