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Utah football: Ute linebacker Gionni Paul expected to be sidelined 5-6 months after foot surgery

Published: Friday, July 3 2015 9:31 p.m. MDT

Utah Utes linebacker Gionni Paul  (13) rests during spring practice in Salt Lake City  Tuesday, March 18, 2014.  (Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News) Utah Utes linebacker Gionni Paul (13) rests during spring practice in Salt Lake City Tuesday, March 18, 2014. (Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah junior Gionni Paul, a transfer from Miami (Fla.) who was a projected starter at linebacker, is expected to sidelined for 5-6 months after having a broken foot surgically repaired on Thursday.

Paul suffered the injury in practice on Tuesday.

Before getting the full prognosis after practice on Thursday, Utah coach Kyle Whittingham acknowledged that the injury — coupled with the ACL tear that sidelined linebacker Jacoby Hale earlier in camp — really hurts the Utes.

“I think we’re down to four scholarship linebackers,” Whittingham said, noting that running back Marcus Sanders-Williams has been moved to the position for the remainder of camp to see how he looks.

“He’s got the physical tools to become a linebacker,” Whittingham said. “He just doesn’t have any experience there.”

Quarterback Micah Thomas tries to avoid Gionni Paul on a run to the outside during University of Utah Football practice Friday, Aug. 9, 2013. (Scott G Winterton, Deseret News) Quarterback Micah Thomas tries to avoid Gionni Paul on a run to the outside during University of Utah Football practice Friday, Aug. 9, 2013. (Scott G Winterton, Deseret News)

Sanders-Williams, a 5-foot-11, 222-pound sophomore, is up for the challenge.

“I’m just trying to help the team out — just trying to contribute to our defense,” he said. “If they’re lacking any personnel then I’m trying to fill it.”

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