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Scott G Winterton, Deseret News
University of Utah receiver Siaosi Wilson talks with members of the media after practice in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, Aug. 1, 2017.
Utah has always been around me. It’s a good place. We all kind of fell in love with it. —Siaosi Wilson

SALT LAKE CITY — If Siaosi Wilson’s mom could have selected the sport her son pursued, it wouldn’t have been football.

“My mom was one of those moms that didn’t want to see her son get hit,” said the wide receiver, who is enjoying a productive sophomore campaign. “So I started a little late.”

Wilson began playing tackle football in seventh grade, but he’d been playing basketball all his life.

“She was always a huge basketball fan,” he said. “And she wanted to see me play basketball. Actually, my first love was basketball. But in the end, football ended up taking my heart.”

That’s been a blessing for Utah as Wilson is the team’s No. 2 receiver in yards, behind Darren Carrington II, with 12 catches for 216 yards. He is, however, without a touchdown this season, something he hopes to rectify when the Utes host Arizona State on Saturday afternoon.

He said part of the reason he chose football over basketball was passion, but the other part was practicality.

“I love basketball so much, but I’m not dumb,” he said. “I’m 6-2 and that’s average height for basketball. For football, it’s considered kind of tall. So I took my chances and played football.

Wilson said that despite his mom’s reservations about his future in football, they both agreed Utah would be the best place for him personally and for his football career.

“I wasn’t overly recruited,” he said, noting he had eight offers. “Utah was the third to offer me. I had family here in the past — safety Jason Thompson and running back Matt Asiata.”

Both of those players are his cousins, and he said despite growing up in California, he’s always had affection for Utah.

“Utah has always been around me,” he said. “My family loves Utah. It’s a good place. We all kind of fell in love with it.”

Wilson said his basketball training serves him well as a wide receiver. The player whose game film he studied turned out to be Carrington. “It’s kind of funny we ended up playing for the same team,” he said.

Wilson said the receivers came into this season hungry to prove a few things.

“Each and every time we get an opportunity to go at another DB, we want to take full advantage of it and show the world what we can do,” Wilson said. “It’s kind of get this chip off our shoulder, you know, that Utah doesn’t have a receiving corps. …We want to (establish) a new era, get a new vibe going.”

And for the most part, they have.

While Utah continues to struggle in the red zone, the most noticeable improvement is that there aren’t as many dropped balls as in the past. All of Utah’s receivers have had that jaw-dropping moment where they’ve made a big or athletic grab to sustain a drive or put Utah in scoring position. The team has nine receiving touchdowns, but 1,616 receiving yards, with an average of 12 yards per catch. Carrington leads the group with 593 yards and 39 receptions, as well as five touchdowns.

Wilson said Carrington only added to the group.

“He’s a great player,” he said. “He’s going to shine. He does what he does, and all the attention he gets, he deserves. He goes out and produces night in and night out. I have learned a lot from him.”

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He said the receivers are not discouraged about Utah’s back-to-back losses, even though they are frustratingly close. They see the Sun Devils, who are coming off their own impressive upset of formerly fourth-ranked and undefeated Washington, as an opportunity to remind people just how talented this team is and how hard they’ve been working.

“The energy level is high,” he said of the group. “When we step on the field, we know what we can do; we know who we are. We want to compete with the best. We want to be the best.”