Utah's election results are in. The Utes have cast their ballots and selected quarterback Brian Johnson, offensive lineman Robert Conley, cornerback Brice McCain and linebacker Stevenson Sylvester as captains. A fifth representative, representing special teams, will be appointed each week. Kicker/punter Louie Sakoda has already been chosen to fill the post for the Aug. 30 season opener at Michigan.
"I think it was great choices. All those guys have excellent leadership qualities," Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said. "They're very well respected, obviously, by their teammates as the vote demonstrates."
The team captains, he added, play a pivotal role in Utah's program.
"I lean on those guys huge. They have a lot of say in what goes on," Whittingham said. "They're my sounding board. The pulse of the football team comes through the captains."
It's a role the players take seriously.
"It's a huge honor. I'm glad my teammates think that much of me," said quarterback Brian Johnson, who is a rare two-time captain. "It's my job to go out there, lead these guys and win a conference championship. And that's what we're going to do."
Johnson noted that the other captains are great guys and deserving of the honor. He's especially pleased that three (Johnson, Conley and McCain) are from his home state of Texas. Sylvester, who is from Las Vegas, is the lone exception. He's also the only junior in the group.
"I'm really excited about it. There's nothing better than being a captain," said Sylvester, who was also one of his team's leaders in high school. "It means your teammates respect you and expect you to do good things."
The role, he continued, makes you want to play even harder on the field.
"We've got a lot of youth on the team and all the guys look up to us so we've got to lead them," Conley said. "They feed off of our leadership and our energy. It's a great role."
Conley considers himself a "natural-born leader" and acknowledged being elected a captain was one of his goals.
"I take great pride in my teammates voting me captain," he said.
It means a lot to McCain as well. He's worked hard over the summer to get his grades right and be ready for the opportunity.
"It's a big thing to me. I always wanted to be a captain," McCain said. "I wasn't a captain in high school because of my attitude. I'm blessed to be a captain now.
"I've always practiced like a captain but I always wanted to have a captain title," he said. "It means a lot."EXTRA POINTS: Whittingham said running back Matt Asiata looked good in the dozen live reps he took in the morning. "He's just about back to where he needs to be," he said of the junior's recovery from an ankle sprain ... Starting running back Darrell Mack has an irritated Achilles and is being held out until at least Wednesday for precautionary reasons ... The defense continues to play well. Whittingham was especially pleased with how everyone moved around in the morning session ... Jereme Brooks and Brent Casteel are the top candidates to be the primary punt returner. David Reed is also in the mix ... Brooks, Reed, McCain, Elijah Wesson and Sean Smith are competiting for the kickoff return jobs ... Whittingham said the camp's focus shifts to the Aug. 30 opener at Michigan after Wednesday morning's scrimmage at Rice-Eccles Stadium.
Utah camp central
First down: The Utes completed their final full two-a-day of camp with sessions in the morning, at the practice fields, and the afternoon, at Rice-Eccles Stadium.
Head-turner: Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said running back Matt Asiata looked good in his first live reps since returning from an ankle sprain. In the afternoon cornerback Justin Jones picked off a pass for a touchdown and Whittingham called him our most improved player through camp.Injury report: Freshman receiver Ryan Lacy will have surgery on both shoulders and redshirt this season. For precautionary reasons, running back Darrell Mack (irritated Achilles) spent practice in The Pit. The senior is expected to resume practicing on Wednesday . Receiver Brent Casteel suffered a thigh contusion in the afternoon, but he'll be back hopefully Wednesday, according to Whittingham.
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