Matt Gade, Deseret News
SALT LAKE CITY — Trevor Reilly is making plays. The Utah senior, who sees action at both defensive end and linebacker, is currently tied for the NCAA lead with three fumble recoveries. He tops the Utes with 58 tackles and 8.5 stops behind the line of scrimmage. His 3.5 sacks make him the team co-leader.
Utah coach Kyle Whittingham praises Reilly for being an instinctive player.
“He’s one of our big-play guys on defense, if not our biggest-play guy on defense, and we rely on him to be a disrupter and make those plays,” said Whittingham, who mentioned Reilly’s fourth-and-goal sack of Arizona quarterback B.J. Denker early in last Saturday’s game in Tucson. “He’s a guy that we rely on week in and week out to step up and make big plays for us, and he’s done that.
Reilly finished with 14 tackles, three tackles-for-loss, two sacks and a fumble recovery in the 35-24 setback to the Wildcats.
“I’m a senior. I guess I’ve had enough games under my belt I should be able to make those plays when they come my way,” he said, while crediting a good scheme and coaching as well.
Although Reilly had knee surgery last December and he isn’t sure if he’s 100 percent healthy, he’s still making quite an impact. The numbers prove it.
Entering Saturday’s game at USC, Reilly is just one forced fumble away from matching Eric Weddle’s school record of nine in a career. His six career recoveries rank fourth in program history.
More importantly, though, is what he’s passing on to younger teammates. Linebacker Jared Norris, who also had 14 tackles against Arizona, is Reilly’s roommate in the team hotel and tries to learn as much as he can from the all-conference and Butkus Award candidate.
“I think the biggest thing he has tried to teach to me is to make plays. Who cares about how many tackles you make or whatever, it’s that big play that you need to make in the right time,” Norris said. “He’s one of those leaders on the field, too. He’s going to tell you when you mess up — even though he’s on the other side of the field.
“He’s just one of those guys who knows the game of football and he knows where everybody is supposed to be on the field. So he’s helped me a lot,” Norris continued. “I talk to him every day about different things. But like I said the biggest thing is just making plays, and that’s what it comes down to.”
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