Utah Utes football: Trevor Reilly ready to rattle opposing offenses

Published: Saturday, Aug. 11 2012 8:00 p.m. MDT

Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — It's hard to define Trevor Reilly. The Utah junior is this, he's that, and seemingly a little bit of everything else.

On the football field, Reilly is a linebacker and a defensive end — representing the Utes well at both spots.

Utah coach Kyle Whittingham refers to him as a "wild card" and a "disruptor." Reilly, however, is better known by something else up on the hill. Teammates call him "Rattlesnake."

Although it kind of befits Reilly's current appearance — a shaved head and a lengthy goatee — it isn't why a teammate tagged him with the nickname one day after practice. The 6-foot-5, 245-pounder from Valley Center, Calif., said the moniker was attached earlier in his career for being "kind of a slippery guy" as a defensive end. Reilly's ability to slip around the tackles led to the nickname.

And it stuck.

"It's cool, whatever," Reilly said. "I just roll with it."

Reilly isn't easy to rattle. He's a focused competitor and always has been. As a kid, he wore basketball shorts under his clothes just in case a game broke out.

"I was ready to go," he said. "That's kind of how I live my life."

Even now, as married man with one child and another due in September, he carries gear such as golf clubs and basketball shoes in his mini-van.

"I'm ready to go at any time," said Reilly, who is confident in his ability to compete in anything. As a teenager he made the Guinness Book of World Records for eating a raw onion more quickly than anyone else.

Nowadays, Reilly is devoted to devouring opposing offenses. He made history last season by becoming Utah's first "Pac-12 Player of the Week" after a stellar showing in the Utes' 54-10 victory at BYU. Reilly also netted National Defensive Player of the Week recognition after forcing three fumbles (a school record) and making two sacks against the Cougars.

Reilly was honored by the awards and said it has made him even more determined to show up and produce in every game. Making an impact is something he's done on a consistent basis.

"He thinks he can make every play," Whittingham said. "He thinks he can do it all, which is what you want in your players."

Over his first two seasons at Utah, Reilly has made 66 stops with 14.5 tackles-for-loss and seven sacks. In 2011, he ranked third in the Pac-12 with four forced fumbles. He also finished among the conference leaders in several other categories.

"The 'Rattler,' he's a disruptor. He is what you call a disruptor on defense. He does so much to sabotage the offense's plays," Whittingham said. "He's slithery, he's got great instincts and anticipation and he's a great athlete."

Reilly moves extremely well for his size, Whittingham added, and is a tough matchup as a linebacker and as a defensive end.

More of the same is expected this season.

"He's a guy that has a real feel for the game. We call him a wild card. He can play end, he can play linebacker," Whittingham said. "He's a guy that's going to line up in a lot of different places for us and it'll be a week-to-week thing based on the game plan for that particular opponent."

Defensive coordinator Kalani Sitake, who helped recruit Reilly and knows him well, considers his versatility as one of the strengths of the Utah defense.

"It's awesome to be able to coach him," Sitake said while noting that Reilly is an athlete and a gym rat.

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