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Utes Attend Pac-12 Football Media Day

RB John White is Utah's offensive rep at Pac-12 Media Day July 24. Star Lotulelei and Coach Kyle Whittingham are also in attendance.

RB John White is Utah's offensive rep at Pac-12 Media Day July 24. Star Lotulelei and Coach Kyle Whittingham are also in attendance.

July 23, 2012


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Representing Utah at the 2012 Pac-12 Media Day at Universal Studios in Universal City, Calif., on Tuesday, July 24 will be Head Coach Kyle Whittingham, senior defensive tackle Star Lotulelei and senior running back John White. The head coach and two players from all 12 schools will be on hand for the event.


Utah returns 18 starters and 55 lettermen from last year's 8-5 Sun Bowl champion team. See sidebar on page 2 for a complete list of returning starters ... Kyle Whittingham is 66-25 entering his eighth season as Utah's head coach ... Quarterback Jordan Wynn was granted an additional year from the NCAA after a season-ending shoulder injury in the fourth game of 2011. Wynn, a junior, is projected to start for his fourth season ... Senior defensive tackle and All-America candidate Star Lotulelei is viewed by many as the top interior defensive lineman in the country and has made four preseason watch lists (see sidebar on page 3 for a complete list of Utah's watch list candidates) ... Senior John White is coming off the best season ever by a Ute running back (1,519 yards) and is the top returning rusher in the Pac-12 (116.8 ypg) ... Brian Johnson was promoted to offensive coordinator in the offseason. At age 25, Johnson is the youngest coordinator in the country ... The only position without a starter returning is at offensive tackle where Utah must replace all-conference players Tony Bergstrom (first team) and John Cullen (second team).


Five Utes have made preseason watch lists (see sidebar on p. 3) ... Two Ute safeties were Freshman All-Americans: junior Brian Blechen (2010) and sophomore Eric Rowe (2011) ... Utah has five alumni coaches: Jay Hill, CB/ST; Brian Johnson, OC/QB; Chad Kauha'aha'a, DL, Morgan Scalley, SAF and Sharrieff Shah, CB ... Four Utes are preparing to start for their fourth season: OL Tevita Stevens, DT Dave Kruger, WR Luke Matthews and P Sean Sellwood.


New cornerbacks coach Sharrieff Shah left a career as a trial attorney to coach at his alma mater. Shah earned four letters at Utah from 1990-93, starting his first three seasons before a career-ending injury. He has never coached, but stayed close to the game as a certified agent through the NFL's Player Association and as a sideline reporter for Utah's flagship radio station ESPN700. One of his clients as a player agent was his brother Karim Abdul Jabbar (now known as Abdul Karim-Al Jabbar), who played for UCLA and three NFL teams. Shah has been a practicing attorney in Salt Lake City since 2001 ... Backup defensive end Thretton Palamo was an international rugby star before joining the Utes last year. He was the youngest player in the 2007 Rugby World Cup at age 19 and played on the 2008 USA U20 Junior World Cup Team. He had not played football since his junior year at Davis High School (Calif.) in 2005 and 2006.


Receiver Dres Anderson's father Willie "Flipper" Anderson had a 10-year NFL career for four teams after playing collegiately for UCLA ... Cornerback Chandler Johnson, a walk-on sophomore, is the son of Utah's career rushing record holder Eddie Johnson (3,219 yards from 1984-88) ... Defensive linemen Dave and Joe Kruger's father Paul played football for Oregon State, older brother Paul played for Utah and is now in his fourth season with the Baltimore Ravens and brother-in-law Tony Bergstrom, an all-Pac-12 first-team offensive tackle last season for the Utes, was drafted by the Oakland Raiders ... Receiver Luke Matthews' father John was a two-time U.S. Olympian in Greco-Roman wrestling and every member of his family has competed in a sport at the NCAA Division I level ... Tight end Jake Murphy is the son of six-time National League all-star Dale Murphy ... Tight end Dallin Rogers' father Doug played football for Stanford and for three NFL teams from 1982-88 ... Center Tevita Stevens' brother Hamani plays center for Oregon ... Linebacker Jason Whittingham is the nephew of head Utah coach Kyle Whittingham. His father Cary played for BYU and the L.A. Rams.


Kyle Whittingham, the 2008 National Coach of the Year, is 66-25 in seven years as Utah's head coach, winning 72-percent of his games. Whittingham's teams have qualified for a bowl game every year and Utah is one of just three teams to win six bowl games in the last seven years (with Florida and TCU). Overall, Whittingham is 7-1 in bowl games, including a win as co-head coach of Utah's 2005 Fiesta Bowl team. Utah's win over No. 4 Alabama in the 2009 Sugar Bowl improved his BCS bowl record to 2-0. Whittingham has averaged nine victories a year since his appointment as head coach in 2005 and he has half of the 10-win seasons in the school's 118-year football history. Utah won 10 or more games from 2008-10, while finishing in the Top 25 all three seasons. His 2008 team set the school win mark (13-0) and earned a berth in the Sugar Bowl, where Utah routed an Alabama team that had spent five weeks at No.1. The Utes finished with a No. 2 national ranking that season and Whittingham was recognized as the National Coach of the Year by the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) and the Paul "Bear" Bryant Awards committee. Last year, Whittingham guided Utah to a third-place tie in the Pac-12 South Division. The Utes won four-straight league games down the stretch and were in contention for a berth in the Pac-12 Championship game until the last week of the regular season. They finished with an 8-5 record (4-5 Pac-12) and beat Georgia Tech in the Sun Bowl. Whittingham's overall mark against Pac-12 schools is 8-8. For more on Whittingham, see sidebar on page 2.

SPOTLIGHT ON Star Lotulelei

Senior 6'4", 320-pound defensive lineman Star Lotulelei (pronounced lo-too-leh-lay) is considered by many to be the best interior defensive lineman in the country and has been projected by some analysts to become the first overall pick in 2013 NFL draft. He has been named to four preseason watch lists to date (Rotary Lombardi, Bednarik, Bronko Nagurski and Outland). The Pac-12's outstanding defensive lineman in 2011, Lotulelei won the league's Morris Award and was named first-team all-conference. He is a 2012 preseason first-team All-American by Phil Steele and Blue Ribbon Football Yearbook and is Blue Ribbon's preseason Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year. The sociology major from South Jordan, Utah (Bingham High/Snow College) is married (Angelina) and has two daughters (Arilani and Pesatina).


Senior running back John White (5-8, 188) is a Heisman and Doak Walker candidate after a sensational first season at Utah in 2011. White, who finished second in the Pac-12 and 11th in the nation in rushing (116.8 yards per game), broke a 29-year-old school record by rushing for 1,519 yards last season. White led the league and ranked third in the nation in carries (316). A workhorse, he accounted for 85% of Utah's total net rushing yards (1,519 of 1,789) and 67% of the team's rushes (316 of 472). His eight 100-yard games tied for second-most in a season at Utah and tied for second in the Pac-12 in 2011, when he had five of the top 20 rushing games in the conference. He was named second-team all-Pac-12, honorable mention SI.com All-American and the Sun Bowl MVP. White is on the watch list for the Doak Walker Award (top running back), Walter Camp Player of the Year award and Maxwell Award (outstanding player), and a preseason first-team all-Pac-12 pick by Phil Steele and Blue Ribbon. From Torrance, Calif. (L.A. Harbor College), White loves wolves and has been nicknamed the "Wolfman."


Utah finished 8-5 overall and 4-5 in its first year in the Pac-12 Conference, tying for third in the South Division. Utah finished the season by winning five of its last six games, including four-straight Pac-12 wins. The Utes, who were in the running for a berth in the first Pac-12 Championship game until the last week of the season, earned the league's first bowl win, beating Georgia Tech 30-27 in overtime in the Sun Bowl. Earning first-team all-Pac-12 honors were offensive tackle Tony Bergstrom, defensive tackle Star Lotulelei and defensive end Derrick Shelby. Lotulelei won the Morris Award as the league's top defensive lineman. Making second-team all-conference were offensive tackle John Cullen and running back John White. See sidebar on page 3 for a complete list of Utah's honors in 2011.

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