Darryl Poston's journey to the top of Utah's depth chart has been filled with twists and turns.

The senior tailback has faced numerous hurdles in a collegiate career that began with so much promise. The former Huntington Beach, Calif., prep star accepted a scholarship to USC after racking up a school-record 3,419 yards and 29 touchdowns at Edison High.

Poston's tenure with the Trojans wasn't nearly as successful. A sprained knee spoiled his freshman season and a season-ending back injury put a premature end to his sophomore campaign, leading him to redshirt.

A series of events followed that led Poston to Utah. The change of scenery did little, however, to alter his misfortune. He injured his knee in the 2004 opener against Texas A&M and was sidelined for the rest of the year.

In 2005, Poston battled mononucleosis. He lost 20 pounds and frequently experienced nausea in practices.

Despite it all, Poston never quit.

"He's persevered," said Utah running backs coach Dave Schramm. "He's been through a lot of stuff."

The stuff has taken a toll. It's made it hard for Poston to completely enjoy his current status as Utah's primary running back.

"I'm excited, but it's a little stressful as well. Obviously they expect a lot out of me," he said. "I'm going to give 100 percent. In the past I've always had like little small issues and stuff like that. So I'm not as confident as I'd like to be right now."

Boosts, however, have come in practices. Enough, he admits, to brighten his outlook.

"I'm just going to take it day by day, see what's up and see what happens," Poston said. "I'm feeling great."

Poston's health has been excellent since he shook off mono shortly before the Emerald Bowl. For the first time in his college career, he parlayed a strong spring with a good summer.

"It's very reassuring," Poston said. "But like I've said, I'm going to take it day by day. I'm not even thinking about it — getting injured or what not."

Though he admits it'll always be in the back of his mind, Poston insists it won't hinder his ability at all.

"I just want to be out there and actually perform," he continued. "I just want to win and obviously I want to be a big part of the team."

Welcome words to Utah coach Kyle Whittingham.

"He's full speed and at full speed Darryl Poston is a great running back," Whittingham said. "And that's what he is."

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Though it's still early in camp and challenges from Darrell Mack and Mike Liti could heat up when practices with pads begin, Poston is in position to be the starting tailback when the Utes open the season Sept. 2 at UCLA, where family and friends plan to make the short journey to the Rose Bowl.

"That would be a great success story," Whittingham said. "We would like for nothing more than to have Darryl Poston have a good year for us."

Poston shares the sentiment.

"It's time for me to shine," he said.

As such, Poston has worked hard to prepare himself.

"Ultimately I feel like I'm in very good shape. I've increased my strength a lot which is good," he noted. "So I'll be able to break tackles and do everything I'm supposed to do."

E-mail: dirk@desnews.com