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Utah Utes football: Linebacker Trevor Reilly capitalizes on opportunity against BYU

Published: Tuesday, Sept. 20 2011 11:45 p.m. MDT

Utah linebacker Trevor Reilly sacked BYU quarterback Jake Heaps twice in last Saturday's lopsided win.

Scott G Winerton, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah linebacker Trevor Reilly is a record-setting kind of guy.

As a 16-year-old in Southern California, he ate his way into the Guinness Book of World Records by chowing down a raw onion in 1 minute, 35 seconds — shaving 65 seconds off the previous mark.

In Utah's 54-10 win over BYU last Saturday in Provo, Reilly set a school record by forcing three fumbles. He recovered one of them, adding to a stellar individual performance that included three tackles-for-loss, two sacks and a pass breakup.

On Monday, Reilly made history by becoming the first University of Utah athlete to earn Pac-12 Player of the Week recognition.

The latter, he noted, was especially meaningful.

"Being from Southern California, the former Pac-10 is always something I watched. I went to all the SC-UCLA games," said Reilly, who is from Valley Center, Calif. "So to be (Utah's) first Pac-12 Player of the Week, it's pretty honoring for me, pretty humbling."

And less taxing, perhaps, than eating a onion — something he did on a whim while picking his brother up at an LDS Church function in 2004 that benefitted the "Toys for Tots" program. Six Guinness records fell that night.

As enjoyable as that was, however, Reilly is much more pleased about his football accolades.

"That's a little better for me," Reilly said. "Onions, that's fun, but this is what I do. So that was really, really great."

A shoulder injury slowed Reilly's progress in camp, where he was competing for playing time at stud linebacker. The sophomore saw limited action in season-opening games against Montana State and USC, but was inserted into the game plan for BYU.

"We felt that we had to get him on the field," Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said while noting that the Utes are very deep at linebacker.

Starters Chaz Walker, Matt Martinez and Brian Blechen are backed up by several talented reserves including Boo Andersen, J.J. Williams and V.J. Fehoko. Reilly is the other linebacker currently listed on the depth chart.

To get him on the field more against BYU, defensive coordinator Kalani Sitake opted to employ a 3-4 scheme more often. A good package, he explained, to play to the 6-foot-5, 238-pound Reilly's strengths.

"We just felt like a guy that can move like he can, we ought to find a way to get him on the field," Sitake said. "... His skills are pass rushing and he can be a good dropper and we just felt like this was a good package to put him in."

It paid off.

"He made the most of it. He was all over the place and did a great job," Whittingham said. "It was obviously a big plus in the game to have him perform like he did. He's a talented kid."

Reilly signed with Texas Tech out of high school in 2006. He then served an LDS Church mission in Sweden. Upon his return, Reilly decided to go elsewhere because head coach Mike Leach was in a contract dispute with the Red Raiders and his long-term future was uncertain.

Ultimately, Reilly opted to enroll at Utah.

A redshirt year in 2009 was followed by appearances in 11 games last season. Reilly finished with 19 tackles, including 51?2 behind the line of scrimmage and two sacks. He didn't have any statistics this season before the BYU game.

"The coaches dialed up a defense that was pretty nasty. We had four linebackers in at one time and it worked out for everybody," Reilly said. "I just happened to be there to make the plays."

It was more than circumstance, however, that led to Reilly's increased role.

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