Utah football: Injured Utes likely can appreciate this Emily Dickinson poem

Taking inventory of Utah's injury and academic issues

Published: Wednesday, Aug. 21 2013 12:50 p.m. MDT

Utah Utes quarterback Travis Wilson (7) throws under pressure from Utah Utes defensive lineman Stevie Tu'ikolovatu (97) during a team scrimmage in Salt Lake City Friday, April 5, 2013. Tu'ikolovatu has since suffered injury and will be out for the season.

Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

After the death of Gaius Vaenuku and a few career-ending injuries, the Utah football team may appreciate Emily Dickinson’s “Exultation is the going”:

"Exultation is the going Of an inland soul to sea, Past the houses — past the headlands — Into deep Eternity —

"Bred as we, among the mountains, Can the sailor understand The divine intoxication Of the first league out from land?"

Players including sophomore safety Reshawn Hooker and redshirt freshman defensive end Moses Folauhola are handing that next step. With incessant tendinitis, senior linebacker Brian Blechen may too be looking out to sea.

Such “tough” situations, as coach Kyle Whittingham has recently described them, have afflicted several student-athletes since late July and into fall camp. Others like defensive tackle Latu Heimuli are making a comeback, perhaps putting proper perspective into a temporary setback.

With Whittingham saying he'll no longer comment on injuries, here's a roundup of Utes who have faced setbacks in fall camp.

Season-ending: Stevie Tu'ikolovatu and Jarrell Oliver

Tu’ikolovatu has suffered a foot injury after first walking on in 2009 before serving a mission for the LDS Church. An impressive spring for Tu’ikolovatu (6-1, 320 pounds) had gone a long way toward assuring that he would play prominently this fall. He entered the week of Aug. 12 as a co-leader for a starting position on the offensive line, which is seeking to replace three NFL players. The former East High captain was competing with LT Tuipoulotu and Heimuli for a spot on the interior part of the unit alongside expected star Tenny Palepoi.

Oliver re-injured a broken foot he suffered last season. Among four games he appeared in last season, the sophomore’s highlight was a start in Utah’s crazy win over BYU, when he rushed for 52 yards on 23 carries.

Oliver (5-8, 213) had missed spring ball while recovering from his previous injury.

Temporary: Jason Whittingham and Travis Wilson

Whittingham has endured hand surgery that is expected to keep the sophomore defensive end out of action for two to three weeks. That will probably cause Whittingham (6-2, 240), the fastest end on the team, to miss the Aug. 29 season opener against Chuckie Keeton and Utah State.

Wilson’s mild ankle sprain that kept him on the sidelines on Aug. 14 didn’t seem to be much of a factor by the time the scrimmage rolled around later that week. Though he threw an interception, Wilson (6-6, 240), went 12-of-18 for 281 yards and two touchdowns on the 18th, solidifying his starting job. Now a team captain, Wilson had insisted earlier in the week that he would be fine.

But it’s always concerning when your projected starting quarterback has a physical infirmity of any sorts.

Uncertain: Brian Blechen and Tevin Carter

An All Pac-12 honorable mention, Blechen hasn’t practiced much this fall after being slowed by tendinitis in both knees but saw extensive action in the Utes’ Aug. 18 scrimmage, when he intercepted a pass.

When the Deseret News’ Dirk Facer asked Blechen (6-2, 225) if he planned on playing this fall rather than redshirting, Blechen expressed no doubt.

“Of course I do,” he said.

Whittingham said that’s up to him, adding that Blechen is benefitting from the long practice days he hasn’t experienced regularly since last season.

Blechen has declined additional comment about his situation.

Try out the new DeseretNews.com design!
try beta learn more
Get The Deseret News Everywhere