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Utah Utes football: Dallin Rogers turning into Mr. Versatile

Published: Friday, Aug. 26 2011 8:49 p.m. MDT

Tevita Finau tackles Dallin Rogers as Rogers tries for the end zone during University of Utah football practice at Rice-Eccles Stadium, Monday, Aug. 15, 2011.

Ravell Call, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — There may not be a more valuable player for the Utah football team this year than Dallin Rogers. Or should we say versatile player.

The junior from Placerville, Calif., will play fullback, tight end, slot receiver and wide receiver for the Utes this year. Who knows, he may also bring in the water bottles during timeouts, and the way the Utes' kicking game has struggled during fall camp, perhaps he'll be called on to kick field goals.

You could call the 6-foot-4, 245-pound Rogers a player for all positions.

He's currently listed as co-No. 1 at the fullback position, even though he's hardly ever played the position in his life. But he'll also play his natural tight end position as well as a couple of receiver positions.

"I need to know every position on the field," Rogers says.

Rogers' main position is tight end, which he played as a true freshman in 2007 before going on an LDS mission to Florida. He also played that position last year, tying for the lead of all tight ends in catches with 11, and was second in receiving yards with 167.

With Kendrick Moeai and freshman Jake Murphy manning the tight end spot, Rogers has been moved to fullback, although it isn't your typical Bronko Nagurski-type of fullback.

The Utes actually call it the "F-back" position, but rather than bulldoze up the middle with the ball, the fullback will be used for blocking as well as flaring out of the backfield to catch passes.

Luke Matthews, who has primarily played receiver the past two years, will also play the fullback position along with Shawn Asiata.

"We're there to create mismatches on defense and we're working hard learning the plays," Rogers said. "We're all unique and have our strengths, so the three of us together are going to do well."

Rogers isn't overwhelmed by all the positions he must learn, saying, "Once you learn the concepts of the routes, it flows easily."

Plus as his coach says, he has the intelligence to make it work.

"He's smart and steady, never makes a mental mistake," says coach Kyle Whittingham. "He's sure-handed and has a knack for showing up when we need him most as far as making a play."

Since first coming to Utah in 2007, Rogers has seen a big change in the offense.

"We're using tight ends a lot more, which is new because ever since I've been here, we've never done that," he said. "We're a lot more physical, a lot bigger and we'll be a lot more shove-it down-their-throat running the ball instead of just passing. It's great — we're loving it.

If anyone on the U. team should be excited about playing in the Pac-12 this year, it's Rogers. His father, Doug, played defensive end at Stanford when John Elway was the quarterback and Dallin has fond memories of tailgating before Stanford games when he was a kid.

"I can't wait," he said. "My dad played at Stanford, so he's just as excited as I am. It'll be a blast to play in the Bay Area."

Rogers had a chance to follow in his father's footsteps and play for Stanford, but decided to get away from home and come to Utah.

"It just felt right," he said. "The coaches were completely honest with me. They didn't sugarcoat anything or promise me anything. I love this program and love the area."

The one disappointment for Rogers is that Stanford isn't on the Utes' schedule this year or next. But Rogers believes the two teams will still play each other.

"Hopefully in the Pac-12 championship game," he said, and then added, "at Rice-Eccles Stadium."

email: sor@desnews.com

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