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Provo • With long hair flowing under his helmet and an almost-reckless playing style on the field, Chaz Walker is a flamboyant Utah linebacker. With close-cropped hair, a business-like approach and reputation for being the smartest player on the team, Bryan Kariya is a buttoned-down BYU running back.
Hard to believe the two are family.
"Chaz is my sister-in-law's brother," Kariya acknowledged. "So we have nieces and nephews that are the same."
Obviously, the two will meet plenty of times on the field Saturday when BYU plays host to rival Utah at 7:15 p.m. MDT at LaVell Edwards Stadium.
"It is cool," Kariya said of the relationship through marriage. "At the end of the day, it is still family. We don't have any conflicts or anything in the family. It is good to play against someone you know. It is fun. I view it that way. I am sure he is going to tackle me. I am going to block him, whatever. We are going to hit. That's the way it is going to be. But at the end of the day, we will still be family, so it is all right."
Like Kariya, Walker prepped at Davis High. He said the situation is unusual, but friendly.
"We went through it last year, so it is not new," he said. "But it is definitely weird. It makes things different, but fun, and there is definitely a little rivalry there. But it is a friendly rivalry."
Kariya said the two crossed paths during the summer at a baby blessing in church, but didn't talk much about football. He also doesn't give Walker grief about the Utah senior's long hair.
"No, I try to let him do his thing. I had long hair at one point, too, so I can't say too much about it," Kariya said.
Earning some time
After missing the Texas game because he had yet to pass the health requirements for players who suffered concussions, buck linebacker Brandon Ogletree will return to the starting lineup on Saturday against Utah. But coach Bronco Mendenhall said Spencer Hadley played well enough as a fill-in for Ogletree that the sophomore from Connell, Wash., earned playing time at one of the inside linebacker spots moving forward.
"Spencer, yeah, he played really well and earned a lot of trust," Mendenhall said. "So he might end up playing buck some and Brandon Ogletree at mike if [starting mike linebacker] Uona Kaveinga gets tired. You could see a three-player rotation there very easily. We haven't decided yet, but [Hadley] played really well."
Hadley led the Cougars with 12 tackles in the 17-16 loss at Texas.
Utah State claimed the Beehive Boot symbol of college football supremacy in Utah after a media vote last year. There was a vote because USU and Utah both beat BYU, but didn't play each other. Mendenhall said regaining the trophy is a priority to BYU as an independent.
"It has always been important. The Beehive Boot has been important to me as long as I've been the coach. It is the same this year. It is no different," he said.
The Cougars play host to the Aggies, also 1-1, on Sept. 30.
Utah and Utah State do not play this year, either.
Utah at BYU
P Saturday, 7:15 p.m.
TV • ESPN2