SALT LAKE CITY — Utah safety Darchon Taggart has a special connection to Saturday’s game against Weber State. Two years ago, he was a Wildcat — appearing in seven games as a wide receiver and making three catches.
However, after head coach Ron McBride’s retirement and John L. Smith’s abrupt departure, Taggart decided it was time to pursue his dream of playing for a Pac-12 program.
“There was a lot of change and it felt kind of unstable,” Taggart said. “So I saw my opportunity.”
Taggart walked on at Utah. He redshirted last season and moved onto the depth chart this fall as a backup to free safety Eric Rowe.
“He’s been a good addition to our football team. He’s a hard worker. He’s very athletic,” said Utah coach Kyle Whittingham. “He has got a lot of determination and he’s a tough kid.”
With Tevin Carter not qualifying academically and Charles Henderson being slowed by injury, Whittingham noted that opportunities have opened up and Taggart has made the most of the added reps he’s been getting.
Although Taggart didn’t see any action in the season-opening win over Utah State, the sophomore walk-on is determined to earn his way. He’s looking forward to facing his old squad this weekend at Rice-Eccles Stadium.
“I’ve got a lot of my friends still on the team. We kind of message back and forth,” Taggart said. “They think they’re going to beat us but I know deep down we’re not going to lose to them.”
UTES IN THE NFL: Utah opened the week with 23 former players on NFL rosters. The list includes: RB Matt Asiata (Vikings), OL Zane Beadles (Broncos), OL Tony Bergstrom (Raiders), OL Sam Brenner (Dolphins), DB Brandon Burton (Bills), DL Tevita Finau (Jets), OL Jordan Gross (Panthers), LB Paul Kruger (Browns), DL Joe Kruger (Eagles), DL Star Lotulelei (Panthers), DB Brice McCain (Texans), LB Koa Misi (Dolphins), WR David Reed (Colts), OL Caleb Schlauderaff (Jets), DL Derrick Shelby (Dolphins), DL Sealver Siliga (Seahawks), QB Alex Smith (Chiefs), DB Sean Smith (Chiefs), WR Steve Smith (Panthers), DL Paul Soliai (Dolphins), DB R.J. Stanford (Dolphins), OL Tevita Stevens (Redskins) and DB Eric Weddle (Chargers).
EXTRA POINTS: Whittingham now has a Twitter handle (@UtahcoachWhitt). Saturday’s noon kickoff time is just fine with Whittingham. “That’s when football should be played every week in my opinion,” he said. “Obviously that’s not the case anymore with TV dictating game times, but we really enjoy playing those noon or early afternoon games.” . . . Utah has a run of 19 consecutive sellouts at home. However, bleacher and standing-room-only tickets still remain for Saturday.
Contributing: Mike Sorensen
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