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If he had it his way, Hunter Dimick would never take a day off.

He lifts weights with his father when he's home in Syracuse, and it takes a lot of work to build up his 6-foot-3, 272-pound pro wrestler-worthy image.

But the senior lineman learned the hard way last fall: there are circumstances he can't just tough out as he tried — and failed — to rush his way back on the field from a shoulder injury.

"It threw off a lot of plans I had, to tell you the truth," he said. "A lot of individual goals and team goals, it kind of derailed those pretty damn fast."

Dimick entered last fall as the heir apparent to Nate Orchard as Utah's resident sack artist. He had wrangled down quarterbacks 10 times the previous year, and came in as the Utes' most proven defensive end.

But midway through his anointed breakout year, Dimick separated the AC joint in his shoulder — a tiny ligament that can produce a lot of pain. He kept trying to hurry back into the fray.

It didn't work.

"It was pretty frustrating and long, and I just had to wait it out," he said. "Every time I tried to go back, I would tweak it."

While Dimick managed to get healthy for the bowl win against BYU, he still felt that 2015 was a bit of a lost year for him personally, sidelined so often during Utah's 10-3 campaign.

If he's harboring frustration, he's spent the spring taking it out on Utah's relatively young offensive line as the defense has gotten the better of Utes blockers for most of the first four weeks. He considers breaking in the freshmen a point of pride.

"We've all been there as freshmen, getting smacked around," he said, grinning. "But as rough as it's been for them, they're definitely progressing."

For the Utes, it's more of the same on defensive line. Dimick, along with Kylie Fitts, Lowell Lotulelei and Filipo Mokofisi are seasoned performers with strong track records. Even the second-string players rotating in, from Pita Taumoepenu and Stevie Tu'ikolovatu, are good enough to start for many other teams.

Schematically, the Utah line will be similar to what it was under former defensive coordinator John Pease. But losing tackle Seni Fauonuku, one of the more passionate voices on the defense, is leading Dimick to do something that he's not always comfortable doing: speaking up.

"We got to call it out of him sometimes, because he's a guy who does a lot of leading with his play," defensive coordinator Morgan Scalley said. "He's become more vocal, and we definitely appreciate it."

The shoulder is fine now, and Dimick said he's bounced back mentally from his injury, and learned when to take his time and when to let loose.

By the time the season ticks around, he believes he'll have a whole lot to let loose.

"If it ain't broke, don't fix it," he said. "We're going to keep doing what we've been doing, and hopefully get the same results."

Twitter: @kylegoon ­—

Relishing his return

• Dimick had 10 sacks during his sophomore season in 2014.

• Played in just seven games last year and had three sacks.

• One of five seniors in defensive line two-deep this spring.

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