SALT LAKE CITY — The Utes held a scrimmage Tuesday as two-a-days rolled along. Things went terrifically in most respects. Fourth-string quarterback Adam Schulz completed eight of nine passes for 153 yards and three touchdowns.
If practice were real life, they'd already be unstoppable.
As it is, if names mean anything, the Utes will win the national championship. I'm not talking about the team's nickname. I'm talking about the players.
Their parents must have had big plans two decades ago.
I bring this up because I was looking over Utah's roster at practice and noticed a number of high-achieving names. They aren't company president names like Alistair or Umberton. Rather, they're like roll call at the League of Justice — superhero names. For instance, the Utes have a Win, er, Wynn for their quarterback. They have a Lucky as a running back. They have a Max, which is the speed everyone should go. They have a Thretton (pronounced threaten), which he does very well, if you've seen his biceps.
What, no Tony Stark or Clark Kent?
Some say a good name fosters self-esteem. In that case, these guys must think they're Superman.
Said secondary coach Sharrieff Shah, who has a killer name of his own: "At least it will get you in the door. At least it allows you to be recognized. But after that, it becomes completely on its own ability, merit and determination."
Sometimes a great name really does work. Bart Starr and Johnny Unitas were luminaries of the highest order. That doesn't mean a person can entirely coast on a name. Few have done less with a grand moniker than God Shammgod, the Providence College guard who played just 20 games in the NBA.
Florida Atlantic linebacker Yourhighness Morgan will forever be a mystery, having quit due to concussions. LSU's Ego Ferguson expects to be in the rotation this year at defensive tackle.
And that's not just his bravado talking.
As for the Utes, they have some real winners — or at least Wynners. Their starting quarterback is Jordan Wynn. How can you not expect good things from a guy whose name automatically tells the outcome? They have starting defensive back Reggie Topps, too. It's hard to top that. Sophomore running back Lucky Radley can't hurt their odds. In Tuesday's scrimmage he had a 66-yard run. Additionally, there's junior linebacker Victor Spikes.
There's only one place on the field that begs for a spike.
Max — as in maximum — Moala is a name that should get him some yardage. Thretton Palamo is a rugby star who moved over to the relatively cushy game of football. This year the Utes added quarterback Chase Hansen, whose prep career was all about chasing records. (OK, maybe not this year; he's out with an injury.) They even have Wykie (pronounced Y-kee) Freeman, who just like Wiki-anything, should provide plenty of answers.
I'm also enamored of tight end Westlee Tonga, who is so good he got named after a country, sort of like Captain America.
Freshman defensive end Moses Folauhola?
He's gonna part the waters.
Linebacker Boo Andersen doesn't need to say a word and opponents are spooked.
But the hands-down best name the Utes have belongs to defensive end Star Lotulelei. His birth name is actually Starlite, which isn't bad in itself, especially for a guy who might be the top pick in the NFL Draft. But Star?
You have to wonder if "Success," and "World Domination" were already taken.
"So the name opens a door for us and hopefully we'll have a lot of doors open because of the kids we have on this roster," Shah said. "We have some who are unbelievably gifted and others are tremendous prospects in the making. I think a good name is always a good sign."
As NFL receiver Chad Johnson has shown, a name can even take you places and back. He changed his surname to Ochocinco for a few years, then went back to plain old Chad Johnson. At the moment he's out of the NFL.
Naming names is iffy business.4 comments on this story
But it doesn't hurt to start with a big idea.