Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News
SALT LAKE CITY — Cedrick Jeremiah Poutasi has no preference. The Utah offensive lineman said it doesn’t really matter if folks call him by his first name or his middle name, or a combination thereof.
To some it’s Cedric, to others it’s Jeremiah, and then there’s the C.J. crowd.
By season’s end, however, No. 73 could very well be addressed as an All-American.
The 6-foot-5, 345-pound tackle enters his sophomore season as a candidate to do so. That’s how the 18-year-old from Las Vegas is being billed in preseason press releases by the university’s sports information department.
Poutasi, who earned Pac-12 honorable mention recognition last season, appreciates the bright projection for his future.
“That just shows that I have ability to make things happen,” he said. “So to me, I’ve just got to stay more humble and believe in my faith in God.”
Expectations are high for the 18-year-old. He currently tops the depth chart at left tackle, moving over from the right side.
Although Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said the shift isn’t set in stone, it’s where Poutasi is working this spring and things are progressing.
“He’s handled that transition well. He had a very good freshman outing and we think he’s got all the tools to be a great one,” Whittingham explained. “So it’s just a matter of him continuing to have a great work ethic, and focusing, and trying to get himself better every day because he’s not there yet. But he’s got a chance to be exceptionally good.”
Poutasi led the Utes in knockdowns last season as a true freshman. He made his first start in the BYU game and made an impact throughout the balance of the season.
By his own evaluation, Poutasi was pleased with how things went.
“I messed up in the beginning, a couple of times, but I think I picked it up. I learned all the schemes,” he said. “At the end, I made honorable mention. So I’m very pleased with what I did my freshman year.”
The encore will be challenging. Utah is dealing with the graduation losses of starters Tevita Stevens, Sam Brenner and Miles Mason up front.
Poutasi, however, isn’t fretting about it.
“Our line is solid,” he said, while noting the increased depth at the position and the abundance of young guys coming back.
“We all know the same thing, so we’re all on the same page right now,” Poutasi noted. “So we’ve just got to keep on going.”
EXTRA POINTS: Whittingham said the Utes “bounced back” from being “very average” on Tuesday. Even so, he acknowledged that they still have things to work on after Thursday’s practice at Rice-Eccles Stadium — noting there were too many drops . . . Spring ball resumes Saturday morning with a tackle practice. Whittingham said 50 percent of it will be devoted to live work, giving a lot of guys an opportunity to show their capabilities . . . Junior safety Eric Rowe was singled out by Whittingham as someone who is really starting to come on in camp. He noted that walk-on defensive tackle Stevie Tu’ikolovatu, a redshirt freshman, has been a big surprise this spring. Tu’ikolovatu is on the depth chart behind Tenny Palepoi.
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