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Utah Utes football: Tony Bergstrom, John Cullen relish leadership roles

Published: Tuesday, Aug. 23 2011 11:57 p.m. MDT

"I love it here," he said. "Obviously when you first get out here it's a little different than Southern California, but Salt Lake definitely has a way of growing on you."

As for the Utes' move from the Mountain West Conference to the Pac-12, Cullen was told it would happen well ahead of most folks.

"I knew we were doing this before I even signed. The coaches told me," he said. "I wasn't supposed to say that when I was recruited, but I guess now it's OK. I knew we were making the move."

In his first season with the Utes, Cullen started all 12 regular-season games and ranked among the team leaders statistically.

Quarterback Jordan Wynn appreciates having him around.

"It's nice. He's a good player. He came in and just handled his business. He's done nothing but good things since he got here," Wynn said. "Now it's his last year. So he's going to step up and continue to do good things."

Wynn noted that Cullen has lived up to his billing as the nation's best junior college lineman.

"Definitely. He's done a great job blocking my blindside," Wynn said. "I feel safe and it's great having him."

Bergstrom also appreciates having Cullen around.

"What do you need to know about the guy? I've got all the dirt. Look at that hair," he said while also joking about some of Cullen's tattoos, including one he describes as a "bad Vegas decision."

Bergstrom and Cullen are constantly competing against one another. Bergstrom, who is 6-foot-6 and 315 pounds, said Cullen has a little bit of an athletic edge, but he's got a slight advantage in strength.

"It's fun," Bergstrom said. "Any time I can get a leg up on him he'll never hear the end of it and it's the same vice-versa."

Cullen beat him in a box squat one day and Bergstrom, who called it "a fluke," still hears about it.

The two have formed a bond.

"It's great. That's the nice thing about college football. You come together with so many different guys and John is as different as it gets," Bergstrom said. "That's the biggest fun part about it. Look at him. If I ever saw a guy with that kind of hair I would probably make fun of him."

Although Cullen is having a good time playing college ball, he's serious about the season ahead. It's his primary focus right now, not a future in the NFL.

"I'll worry about that when it comes. That's a long ways away," Cullen said. "We've got to worry about getting better out here."

And as far as the Utes are concerned, he's confident they'll get things done in the trenches this season.

"The O-line is going to be fine," Cullen said. "I promise the fans that."

Email: dirk@desnews.com

twitter: dirkfacer

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