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Utah Utes football: Shawn Asiata starting to turn heads

Published: Thursday, Nov. 10 2011 2:36 p.m. MST

SALT LAKE CITY — As a fullback and special teams contributor, Utah senior Shawn Asiata resides in relative anonymity.

That doesn't mean, however, that he's not making a name for himself.

Utah coach Kyle Whittingham credits Asiata for playing an instrumental role in John White IV rushing for more than 1,000 yards this season.

"You watch the tape and by the second quarter defenders don't want a lot to do with him. He is a load back there," Whittingham said. "At the end of every game, his face is just bloody. He takes his helmet off and he's bleeding everywhere. He's a throwback. He's an old-school fullback and he's done a great job for us all year long."

Whittingham noted that the 6-foot, 260-pound Asiata is a prototypical fullback, a guy who wants to make contact and block people.

"They should have an all-league spot for a fullback. He's done a terrific job," said offensive coordinator Norm Chow. "The NFL people are starting to recognize who he is."

NFL teams usually keep one fullback, he added, and given the right situation Asista could make a roster.

"He's a heckuva football player," Chow said.

BLECHEN AND THE BEE: Defensive coordinator Kalani Sitake is convinced that "things happen for a reason." Case in point, Brian Blechen's bout with a bee early in camp. The bee entered his mouth during a drill and stung the sophomore in the throat.

Blechen wasn't able to eat much for a while and his weight dropped from 230 to 215 pounds. Sitake said the weight loss made the decision to move the safety-turned-linebacker back to the secondary a little easier when a decision needed to be made.

WHIT'S WIT: Whittingham drew laughter from the media when asked about UCLA not drawing a single top-25 vote after beating Arizona State.

"I don't really pay a lot of attention to who is ranked where," Whittingham said. Although I should because I have a vote."

DANCING RICK: After last Saturday's win over ASU, UCLA coach Rick Neuheisel acknowledged he joined the postgame celebration in the locker room.

"Young people, they enjoy it. Old people enjoy it. They break into dance, so I break into it with them," Neuheisel said. "I'm embarrassed to say I have every little rhythm, but being around those kids makes you feel young again."

VERY SPECIAL: Junior punter Sean Sellwood, the reigning Pac-12 Special Teams Player of the Week, noted that the Utes have always put a big emphasis on that phase of the game.

"It's highly regarded. It can be a huge momentum shift," Sellwood said. "We take it very seriously. I think it's been a great season special teams wise. We've done real well."

Email: dirk@desnews.com

Twitter: @DirkFacer

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