Utah Utes football: 3 Utes looking forward to Las Vegas return
SALT LAKE CITY — Three Utah Utes are going home for the MAACO Las Vegas Bowl.
Senior running back Eddie Wide, sophomore receiver DeVonte Christopher and freshman lineman Jeremiah Tofaeono will return to their hometown to face Boise State on Dec. 22 at Sam Boyd Stadium.
"I was crossing my fingers hoping we get to go back to Vegas. It's going to be a big game," Christopher said. "I'm going to have a lot of family there. It should be cool."
It's the next best thing, he added, to playing in the Bowl Championship Series.
"If we weren't going to a BCS game," Christopher explained. "Vegas is definitely the spot."
Christopher, a Canyon Springs High School alum, was the Nevada Gatorade Player of the Year in 2007.
Wide, who attended Cimmaron Memorial High School and won the award a year earlier, may be even more eager for the homecoming. He's thrilled to play his final collegiate game on familiar turf.
"I have a lot of family and friends there, and it being a big game we're all excited about it," Wide said. "It just means a lot for my last game to be in Vegas. So I'm excited."
Utah's leading rusher the past two seasons acknowledged it would be nice to finish strong.
"Everybody wants to have a career game," Wide said about his situation. "But just go out there and play the best you can, help the team in any way possible."
It's a philosophy Wide has taken to heart. After rushing for 1,069 yards and earning first-team all-conference honors as a junior, he shared the load with fellow senior Matt Asiata this season. Wide, who netted 683 yards rushing this year, doesn't look at it as a sacrifice.
"It's been more than worth it. Playing with Matt again was great and I'm glad that I got a chance to do that. We both taught each other a lot when it comes to the game and even off the field," he said.
"We're really good friends and we'll be brothers until the end. No regrets all. I had a great time and I loved every second of it."
Individual accolades, Wide noted, are secondary to overall success.
"I'm a team player and anything that's going to help the team win, I'm all for it," he said.
Utah's Las Vegas trio has certainly contributed to Utah's 10-2 record.
Besides Wide's team-best rushing total, Christopher is the leading receiver with 660 yards. Tofaeono, a former first-team all-stater out of Cheyenne High, has played in all 12 games this season on special teams.
Utah coach Kyle Whittingham anticipates solid showings by all three in Vegas.
"I think they're excited about it. It's an opportunity to go back in front of people that they grew up with and I think everybody enjoys that opportunity," he said. "They're going to go back there and hopefully make the most of it."
Quarterback Jordan Wynn certainly did a year ago. He returned to the San Diego area, where he starred at Oceanside High School, and earned Poinsettia Bowl MVP honors by completing 26-of-36 passes for 338 yards and three touchdowns in a 37-27 victory over California.
MAACO Bowl Las Vegas
No. 20 Utah (10-2) vs. No. 10 Boise State (11-1)
Wednesday, Dec. 22, 6 p.m.
Sam Boyd Stadium, Las Vegas
TV: ESPN Radio: 700 AM
- Sorensen: Rare for both BYU and Utah to be...
- BYU football: A look at the Cougars' schedule...
- BYU moves up one spot in AP poll, heads into...
- The photos from the seats and the sideline...
- BYU moves up to No. 20/21 in the AP and...
- Utah football notes: Paul makes quite a splash
- Former BYU tight end Dennis Pitta's season is...
- Sunday morning quarterback: Stars and stats...
- Utes leave the Big House with a large... 139
- BYU moves up to No. 20/21 in the AP and... 89
- Brad Rock: LaVell, McBride not OK with... 76
- Sorensen: Rare for both BYU and Utah to... 69
- Big plays lift No. 21 BYU past Virginia 53
- Utah football enemy camp: 5 questions... 46
- Ex-Ute gets gift of life with new heart... 32
- Dick Harmon: Virginia tries for upset,... 29