Utah Utes football notebook: DeVonte Christopher back taking reps with first unit
Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News
SALT LAKE CITY — Utah wide receiver DeVonte Christopher is determined to get back on the field. The senior, who has led the Utes in receiving the past two seasons, didn't see any action in last week's 34-15 loss at Washington. Before that, he had just one catch in three games.
Christopher's fall from prominence has been followed by a recent resurgence. Utah coach Kyle Whittingham acknowledged that Christopher has been practicing hard and trying to work his way back into the rotation. Whittingham said Christopher has been getting reps with the No. 1 offense this week.
Christopher, by his own admission, admitted that his downfall was probably due to his practice habits.
"I'm trying my best to correct them from here on out," he explained. "So I'm looking forward to seeing how that translates on the field."
Christopher enters Saturday's home finale against Arizona with 19 catches on the season, ranking fourth on the team behind Jake Murphy (29), Dres Anderson (28) and Kenneth Scott (22). Christopher had 81 receptions over the previous two seasons.
Now, as his college career winds down, Christopher vows to be himself and come out with a good, positive attitude. Being a senior on a team with its back against the wall, he's looking at the big picture.
"I definitely want to be out there for my last game at Rice-Eccles. It's crazy how fast time flies. It's the last game," Christopher said. "We know the situation we're in. We've got to win the next two games to even get bowl eligible."
Utah has gone bowling for nine consecutive years, winning eight of the games.
"It's kind of weird that we're trying to fight to become bowl eligible right now," Christopher said. "So it's a different experience. We're definitely looking forward to this challenge."
Although Christopher noted that the Utes have a lot of work to do, he said they're motivated to get it done for the team and the seniors.
STAR POWER: Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez noted that it hasn't been easy preparing for Utah defensive tackle Star Lotulelei.
"We don't have any players that are similar to his size, strength and speed to emulate it in practice. He has been a dominate player in this league for a couple of years and he will be a first-round draft pick," Rodriguez said at his weekly press conference. "They will move him around as well and he won't be lined up on the same person each time. Our guys up front have to watch the film and play with great leverage and intensity."
THE MEMORIES: Utah offensive coordinator Brian Johnson fondly recalls the last time Arizona visited Rice-Eccles Stadium. It was Sept. 2, 2005 and Johnson made his first career start at quarterback for the Utes.
"That was a while ago," Johnson said. "But you remember that stuff like it was yesterday.
Utah prevailed 27-24 that day and Johnson is hopeful this year's visit by Arizona will also be special. It'll be the final home game for the Utes' 25 seniors.
"They're going to have memories that are going to last a lifetime," Johnson said. "You want to make sure that they're the right ones."
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