SALT LAKE CITY — Wide receiver Tim Patrick is standing tall for Utah. The 6-foot-5, 190-pound walk-on is catching on quickly. He led the Utes with six receptions in the first fall scrimmage and tied for the top honors in the second with three — netting a team-high 118 yards in the process.
Patrick has made an impact throughout camp, working his way onto the depth chart.
“I’m really pleased with Tim. He’s made a lot of progress,” said offensive coordinator Dave Christensen. “He’s got a lot of range and catches the football well.”
Christensen added that Patrick has deceptive speed and gets a lot of yards after the catch.
Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said he’s been a pleasant surprise.
“He’s got some height to him. He’s fluid,” said Whittingham, who noted that Patrick is also a great basketball player. “There is some carryover there with a basketball guy and a wide receiver. He’s a guy that we hope continues on an upward plane. If he does, he’s definitely going to help us this year — without a doubt.”
Patrick earned all-conference honors in both football and basketball last season at Grossmont College in California. As a receiver, he made 53 catches for 964 yards and eight touchdowns. On the court, Patrick averaged 9.8 points and 5.7 rebounds.
Once he got his academic affairs in order, Patrick decided to pursue football at the next level and accepted an invitation to join the Utes this fall.
Thus far, Patrick said things are going well. He’s getting the plays down easier than expected.
“The only thing I’ve really got to get used to is the fast pace,” Patrick said. “Because at my JC we huddled up every time.”
Having a height advantage, he admits, is beneficial because most guys his size are usually big tight ends that lack his speed. Patrick is sure that with his slight frame he’s faster than them.
Even so, Patrick isn’t taking anything for granted in making the jump to major college football. He said you could know the plays one day and completely forget them the next while learning in camp.
“It’s going to be a long process until I get them down like the veterans we have over there,” he said. “But I should be there by the time of the first game.”
And, make no mistake about it, Patrick doesn’t plan on being on the sidelines.
“I came here to play,” he said. “And I’m going to work hard until I’m playing.”
COMING TO A CLOSE: Whittingham noted that the final week of camp would be different than the previous two. The double days, which conclude Monday and Wednesday, will be comprised of a scaled-back morning session and an afternoon practice that will likely feature a lot of kicking.
“We’ve got to start reeling it in a little bit — getting the legs back, getting the guys freshened up,” Whittingham said. “But we’ve still got to get the work done.”
With the start of school still one week away, Whittingham explained that they’re fortunate to have time to “cover all the bases we need covered” before the Utes’ season opener on Aug. 28 against Idaho State.
GETTING THROUGH IT: Quarterback Travis Wilson said that preseason camp is a grind.
“We wake up every morning at 6 and we don’t get back until 9:30 or 10 at night. So it’s definitely not easy,” he explained. “But to push through it and give max effort through every practice really shows your toughness, your willingness to compete, and your commitment to the team.”
Wilson added that everyone’s legs are tired and things like that.
“Nobody’s different,” he said. “So we’ve just got to make sure we’re ready for practice every day.”
LEAN AND QUICK: At 285 pounds, right tackle J.J. Dielman is the lightest projected starter on Utah’s offensive line. The 6-foot-5 sophomore is the only one under 305 pounds.
“I think Oregon played with a guard who was 265 last year. So there’s a place for a lean, quick offensive lineman,” Whittingham said. “Maybe not five years ago, but now with the game changing and the up-tempo and all that’s taken place with the offensive changes, then there is a place for some undersized linemen.”
Thus, Whittingham thinks Dielman is big enough to play the position.
“But it would be nice if he would add another 5, 7, 10 pounds,” he said.
NOT LOST IN THE SHUFFLE: Even though quarterback Brandon Cox hasn’t taken a lot of snaps in camp, the redshirt freshman is still on the radar.Comment on this story
“One thing I’m proud of is the attitude he’s kept through this whole thing. He hasn’t had nearly the reps, I’m sure, that he would have liked to have had, but he’s kept a positive attitude,” Whittingham said. “He comes to practice every day with the right mentality and that’s good to see. He’s just a redshirt freshman. He’s got a lot of football ahead of him and we think he’s got a lot of talent.”
EXTRA POINTS: Utah’s annual fan fest is scheduled for Saturday (6-9 p.m.) at Rice-Eccles Stadium. ... Whittingham said that sophomore Pita Taumoepenu has embraced a move from defensive end to linebacker and will stay there for at least the short term. “He seems to play with some instinct and he’s enjoying it,” Whittingham explained. ... Former minor league baseball player Wallace Gonzalez, who began camp as a tight end before being moved to defensive end, will have his situation revisited this week and a decision will be made on which direction to go. The freshman did have an interception and a sack in Saturday’s scrimmage.