Scott G. Winterton, Deseret News
SALT LAKE CITY — While the Utah Utes participate in summer conditioning workouts, sophomore Griff Robles is doing so as a linebacker. He's making the switch from quarterback.
"Griff is going to go the Chad Manis route," said Utah coach Kyle Whittingham.
Manis, who was a senior last season, evolved into a starting linebacker after beginning his career with the Utes as a back-up quarterback.
At nearly 6-foot-5 and 235 pounds, Robles has the physical make-up to do it. He also has a hard hit to his credit. After throwing an interception in a 2009 scrimmage, the former Spanish Fork High School star delivered a powerful stop that sidelined linebacker Thor Salanoa for several weeks with a shoulder injury.
Robles later added a circle drill victory.
"He's a tough guy," Whittingham said at the time.
Still is, as evidenced by his move to linebacker.
Despite getting a lot of reps at quarterback with Jordan Wynn unable to throw in spring ball, Robles was mired on the depth chart. Wynn's return as the starter, along with the rapid development of freshman Tyler Shreve and the signing of junior college standout Jon Hays, left little opportunity at quarterback for Robles.
"He's very competitive in nature. He wants to be on the field and wants to help the football team in any capacity that he can," Whittingham said. "He was completely on board with the position change."
And with good reason.
"Being the type of athlete he is, we want to utilize and maximize his abilities," Whittingham explained. "He's got good size and runs exceptionally well for a guy that size."
In limited action at quarterback last season, Robles rushed for 124 yards on 17 carries. He had a 47-yard run against New Mexico.
Robles appeared in four games as a freshman. He redshirted in 2009 after serving an LDS Church mission.
PAC MEETING: Whittingham said last month's Pac-12 football meetings in Arizona went well. It was very similar in structure to Mountain West gatherings, he noted, and covered the usual topics like rule changes and TV deals.
"Coaching is coaching," Whittingham said while adding that he didn't feel like a new kid on the block because he knows several of the Pac-12 coaches very well. "It was no real change at all."
EXTRA POINTS: Players began voluntary summer conditioning workouts on June 1 . . . The Pac-12 Football Media Day is set for July 26 at the Fox Studios in Los Angeles. The head coaches will then travel to New York City and ESPN headquarters in Bristol, Conn., for two more days of press conferences and other appearances . . . Utah's coaches are currently involved with annual youth camps.
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