SALT LAKE CITY — Utah's captains for 2012 were chosen Tuesday evening and the results pleased head coach Kyle Whittingham. He thought the team did an "outstanding job" in selecting seniors Dave Kruger, Star Lotulelei, Luke Matthews and John White for the leadership posts.
"The strength of our team is the defensive line. It was last year and it will be this year. So it's very apparent that the players feel the same way with leadership (Kruger and Lotulelei) coming from the group," Whittingham said before noting that the other captains (Matthews and White) are also great leaders who lead by example every day. "There's nobody that has come through this program that practices any harder than those two guys."
Whittingham places a lot of value on the role of team captains.
"Great football teams are governed from within. That's been my experience in the years I've been coaching," he explained. "If you've got to have all the leadership and direction come from the coaches, you're probably not going to be very good. Your best teams are the ones that take care of it themselves."
All four players are eager to serve as team captains — Lotulelei, a defensive tackle, and Matthews, a wide receiver, are repeat selections.
"It's an honor. It's an honor to know that I have that respect from my teammates once again," Lotulelei said. "It's an honor to kind of be a leader on this team, especially for the defense. So it feels real good."
The All-America candidate doesn't take his leadership duties lightly.
"It's part of our deal. That's what we've got to do," Lotulelei explained. "We've got to lead this team if we want to go far."
Matthews is also appreciative to be a captain once again.
"It's definitely an honor just to be recognized by my teammates and by the coaches that I'm a leader on the team," he said. "Over the years it's something that I've come to embrace. I love to be in that position where I have that respect of my teammates and I have an influence on them and the way they practice. So it's good."
Kruger, a defensive tackle, and White, a record-setting running back, also noted that it means a lot to be elected as a captain.
"They trust me and I'm going to lead for them," said White, who prides himself in practicing hard and giving it his all every day — leading by example.
Kruger added that it means a lot knowing that your teammates expect such leadership.
"You kind of know that they look up to you and it's a big deal," he said while noting that this year's captains are a good group of guys, leaders and consistent players.
THE QUARTERBACKS: After breaking down tape of Tuesday's scrimmage, Whittingham noted that quarterbacks Jordan Wynn, Jon Hays, Travis Wilson and Adam Schulz all performed better than they did in last week's scrimmage.
Wynn, though, still holds the No. 1 spot on the depth chart.
"But, like I've said from the onset, it's a competition and that doesn't mean there's a controversy or who's going to be named," Whittingham said. "Right now, if we played, it's Jordan. Until somebody unseats him, he's our guy."
TOUGH TIMES: The final week of preseason camp has passed the midway point with five of nine scheduled practices or scrimmages in the books after Wednesday's double day.
After the morning session, however, Whittingham noted that things were "not bad." That's not to say, however, that everything went well.
"We hit a little bit of a wall this morning. It was not our most effective practice. It wasn't a step backward but we weren't as sharp as we need to be," Whittingham said. "We looked a little tired today, which can't happen. You've got to fight through it."14 comments on this story
The message apparently got through. Whittingham said the Utes came with a lot more resolve and a sense of urgency in the afternoon.
"This is the type of practice that we need to have and what we're used to," he noted.
NEW COMMITMENT: The Utes have secured an early recruiting commitment from running back Charlie Eteaki, a 6-foot-1, 210 pound running back from Servite High School in Anaheim, Calif. Eteaki averaged 98.8 yards rushing per game as a junior.