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Utah Utes football: Linebacker Trevor Reilly capitalizes on opportunity against BYU

Published: Tuesday, July 28 2015 7:54 a.m. MDT

Utah linebacker Trevor Reilly sacked BYU quarterback Jake Heaps twice in last Saturday's lopsided win.    (Scott G Winerton, Deseret News) Utah linebacker Trevor Reilly sacked BYU quarterback Jake Heaps twice in last Saturday's lopsided win. (Scott G Winerton, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah linebacker Trevor Reilly is a record-setting kind of guy.

As a 16-year-old in Southern California, he ate his way into the Guinness Book of World Records by chowing down a raw onion in 1 minute, 35 seconds — shaving 65 seconds off the previous mark.

In Utah's 54-10 win over BYU last Saturday in Provo, Reilly set a school record by forcing three fumbles. He recovered one of them, adding to a stellar individual performance that included three tackles-for-loss, two sacks and a pass breakup.

On Monday, Reilly made history by becoming the first University of Utah athlete to earn Pac-12 Player of the Week recognition.

The latter, he noted, was especially meaningful.

"Being from Southern California, the former Pac-10 is always something I watched. I went to all the SC-UCLA games," said Reilly, who is from Valley Center, Calif. "So to be (Utah's) first Pac-12 Player of the Week, it's pretty honoring for me, pretty humbling."

Brigham Young Cougars quarterback Jake Heaps (9) has the ball knocked loose by Utah Utes linebacker Trevor Reilly (49) as the University of Utah and Brigham Young University play football Saturday, Sept. 17, 2011, in Provo, Utah. Photo by Nate Sorensen  (Nate Sorensen, Deseret News) Brigham Young Cougars quarterback Jake Heaps (9) has the ball knocked loose by Utah Utes linebacker Trevor Reilly (49) as the University of Utah and Brigham Young University play football Saturday, Sept. 17, 2011, in Provo, Utah. Photo by Nate Sorensen (Nate Sorensen, Deseret News)

And less taxing, perhaps, than eating a onion — something he did on a whim while picking his brother up at an LDS Church function in 2004 that benefitted the "Toys for Tots" program. Six Guinness records fell that night.

As enjoyable as that was, however, Reilly is much more pleased about his football accolades.

"That's a little better for me," Reilly said. "Onions, that's fun, but this is what I do. So that was really, really great."

A shoulder injury slowed Reilly's progress in camp, where he was competing for playing time at stud linebacker. The sophomore saw limited action in season-opening games against Montana State and USC, but was inserted into the game plan for BYU.

"We felt that we had to get him on the field," Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said while noting that the Utes are very deep at linebacker.

Trevor Reilly, University of Utah football,  Saturday, Aug. 8, 2009,in Salt Lake City Utah.   Photo by Tom Smart/University of Utah Sports Information  (Tom Smart, University of Utah Athletics) Trevor Reilly, University of Utah football, Saturday, Aug. 8, 2009,in Salt Lake City Utah. Photo by Tom Smart/University of Utah Sports Information (Tom Smart, University of Utah Athletics)

Starters Chaz Walker, Matt Martinez and Brian Blechen are backed up by several talented reserves including Boo Andersen, J.J. Williams and V.J. Fehoko. Reilly is the other linebacker currently listed on the depth chart.

To get him on the field more against BYU, defensive coordinator Kalani Sitake opted to employ a 3-4 scheme more often. A good package, he explained, to play to the 6-foot-5, 238-pound Reilly's strengths.

"We just felt like a guy that can move like he can, we ought to find a way to get him on the field," Sitake said. "... His skills are pass rushing and he can be a good dropper and we just felt like this was a good package to put him in."

It paid off.

"He made the most of it. He was all over the place and did a great job," Whittingham said. "It was obviously a big plus in the game to have him perform like he did. He's a talented kid."

Reilly signed with Texas Tech out of high school in 2006. He then served an LDS Church mission in Sweden. Upon his return, Reilly decided to go elsewhere because head coach Mike Leach was in a contract dispute with the Red Raiders and his long-term future was uncertain.

Ultimately, Reilly opted to enroll at Utah.

A redshirt year in 2009 was followed by appearances in 11 games last season. Reilly finished with 19 tackles, including 51?2 behind the line of scrimmage and two sacks. He didn't have any statistics this season before the BYU game.

"The coaches dialed up a defense that was pretty nasty. We had four linebackers in at one time and it worked out for everybody," Reilly said. "I just happened to be there to make the plays."

It was more than circumstance, however, that led to Reilly's increased role.

"It just felt like the right time and I felt comfortable with him in the game," Sitake said. "He prepared real well last week and that's why we went with it."

Reilly didn't disappoint.

"He's that kind of guy. He can explode like that and hopefully he can keep doing that and be consistent," Sitake said. "It's my job to make sure that he tries to produce that way. I've been real happy with the way he's played and with the way the defense has performed this whole year. It makes my job a lot easier. These guys have worked extremely hard, and that's why you've seen the results that have happened this year."

Utah leads the nation in fumble recoveries with eight. The Utes are tied for second in turnovers caused with 12 and rank third in turnover margin. They also top the Pac-12 in interceptions with four.

And that's not all.

Utah leads the conference in red-zone defense (50 percent) and is second in scoring defense (14.3 points per game). After holding BYU to just 11 yards on the ground, the Utes moved up to third in the Pac-12 in rushing defense (79.3 ypg).

Reilly's overall contributions against the Cougars were abundant, especially with the Utes' seven takeaways.

"I'm an LDS guy so growing up I watched BYU and Utah, and to go down there and play well like I did, it's really honoring," Reilly said. "I'll always remember it."

Trevor Reilly file

Year: Sophomore

Position: Linebacker

Height: 6-foot-5

Weight: 238 pounds

Hometown: Valley Center, Calif.

Career highlight: Became Utah's first-ever Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Week for his performance in the Utes' 54-10 victory over BYU.

Reilly by the numbers vs. BYU:

5: Tackles

3: Forced fumbles

3: Tackles-for-loss

2: Sacks

1: Fumble recovery

1: Pass breakup

Pac-12 decides against further expansion

WALNUT CREEK, Calif. — The Pac-12 issued the following statement Tuesday night regarding conference expansion:

"After careful review, we have determined that it is in the best interests of our member institutions, student-athletes and fans to remain a 12-team conference," said commissioner Larry Scott. "While we have great respect for all of the institutions that have contacted us, and certain expansion proposals were financially attractive, we have a strong conference structure and culture of equality that we are committed to preserve. With new landmark TV agreements and plans to launch our innovative television networks, we are going to focus solely on these great assets, our strong heritage and the bright future in front of us."

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