Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News
Utah Utes head coach Kyle Whittingham coaches in the first spring football practice in Salt Lake City Tuesday, March 20, 2012.

SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Utes have officially kicked things off. They opened preseason camp with a two-hour practice Thursday morning at Ute Field.

Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said it was a "good first day" and that the Utes have "upped their talent level" with the last recruiting class.

Whittingham, however, declined to single out any individual standouts in the first practice.

Junior safety Brian Blechen, who has been suspended for the first three games of the season for a violation of team rules, spoke with the media and expressed remorse for letting the team down.

"I'll definitely make it up to them when I get back out there," said Blechen, who will practice with the team throughout his suspension.

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In other news, Whittingham noted that freshman quarterback Chase Hansen has a sore throwing shoulder and may not be able to play this season before leaving on an LDS Church mission in late December or early January. A couple of medical evaluations are planned and Whittingham hoped to have an update on Saturday or Monday, when the best course of action can be determined.

Whittingham noted that sophomore defensive end Nate Fakahafua, a projected starter, missed the opening practice to work through some family and personal things. He is expected to rejoin the team by Monday, however.

Other than that, Whittingham said the Utes were at full force to open camp and everything has unfolded as anticipated.

"No bad surprises," he added.

Utah opens their season on Thursday, Aug. 30 at home against Northern Colorado.


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