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Paul Kruger

Utah football coach Kyle Whittingham released a statement Monday afternoon concerning the stabbing of Ute players Paul Kruger and Greg Newman in Salt Lake City over the weekend.

Kruger and Newman were taken to the hospital after being jumped and stabbed Saturday night by a group of men, said Kruger's father, Paul Kruger.

"First and foremost, it appears that our players are on the road to recovery, and for that we are very grateful," Whittingham said. "As for the incident on Saturday night, we have been in contact with the Salt Lake County Sheriff's department and were told that the investigation is in its preliminary stages.

"It appears to be a classic example of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. The investigation is ongoing and we're waiting to hear what they learn. In the meantime, our primary concern is for the full recovery of our injured student-athletes. In talking with both Paul and Greg, they are relieved and upbeat about their prognosis."

Three people were stabbed around 11 p.m. near 2900 S. 700 East, said Lt. Paul Jaroscak of the Salt Lake County Sheriff's Office. Jaroscak said Paul Kruger was stabbed in the abdomen.

The two players, along with Kruger's younger brother David, were injured, the Krugers' father said.

"A car pulled up and shouted some profanity at them and they just told them to shut up and get out of here," the father said. "Two other cars pulled up, and the guys inside jumped them from behind."

Paul Kruger, a freshman defensive end from Orem, was stabbed in the abdomen and the ribs, his father said. Newman, a junior defensive lineman from Thousand Oaks, Calif., was stabbed in the back with a screwdriver, and David Kruger, a senior at Timpanogos High who has orally committed to Utah, was hit in the face with a pipe or brass knuckles, his father said.

All three men were taken to a hospital emergency room, the father said. Newman and David Kruger were released Sunday. Paul Kruger will have to stay in the hospital for another few days, his father said.

Paul Kruger has only one kidney after losing the other and his spleen in a rollover accident a few years ago, his father said. The stab wounds nicked an artery but did not affect the kidney, his father said.

U. officials did not comment directly about the incident Sunday.

"We are aware of a situation involving a couple of our football players but do not have enough information to discuss it at this time," Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham said in a prepared statement. "When I learn more about what happened, I will make a statement."

Kruger and Newman played in all 13 games for the Utes last season, helping the team to a 9-4 record and a victory over Navy in the Poinsettia Bowl.

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Kruger started at right end and was the team's fourth-leading tackler with 63 stops. He made 7.5 tackles-for-loss, had five pass breakups, three sacks, three fumble recoveries and an interception to earn second-team Freshman All-America honors from the Sporting News and Scout.com.

Newman, a transfer from Colorado, finished the season with 12 tackles including two for loss and a sack. He also had two pass breakups.

Quarterback Brian Johnson, a team captain, didn't know a lot about the incident when contacted Sunday night. He did say, however, that his thoughts and prayers were with his teammates.

The Utah football team resumes offseason workouts on Tuesday.

Contributing: Dirk Facer

E-mail: afalk@desnews.com

Contributing: Dirk Facer