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Mitch Wishnowsky's award shelf is fully stocked.
In making the American Football Coaches Association's All American team, the sophomore punter is Utah's first unanimous consensus All-American since, well, his predecessor.
"That's awesome, it's unbelievable," Wishnowsky said at Tuesday's practice, a day before he had sealed unanimous consensus status. "If someone had told me before the season this is all the accolades I would get, I wouldn't change a thing."
The Ray Guy Award winner cemented his status as Utah's third unanimous consensus All-American on Wednesday. He joins Louie Sakoda (2008) and Tom Hackett (2015) as the only players in school history to achieve the feat.
The latest star punter for the Utes' special teams finished first in net punting average at 44.9 yards per boot. He placed a nation-best 34 punts inside the 20, 17 punts inside the 10 and had no touchbacks in his last 11 games. Wishnowsky, in turn, has been named to 14 different All-America first-team units.
Wishnowsky returned to Utah only this weekend after spending last week in Atlanta, Ga., where he received the Ray Guy Award Utah's third in a row.
What remains for someone who has already been named the best punter in America?
"I don't know, " he said. "I suppose I'll just try to better myself next year. I feel like I can get strong, maybe just show a bit more versatility. I wouldn't mind getting a fake punt on the way at some stage."
Former Weber State linebacker walks on
Karsen Liljenquist had a very difficult year.
He made the tough decision this offseason to leave Weber State, where he had enjoyed a promising start to his career (70 tackles, 7.5 TFL). He decided to go to Utah, but didn't gain admission over the summer, which sent him to Snow College. He tore his hamstring there, and had to sit out while watching Weber State go 7-5 and make the FCS playoffs.
"It was really tough to see them be successful," Liljenquist said. "I really am happy for those guys. I wish them the best, but I have a different dream."
Even while the year hasn't turned out the way the 6-foot-2 linebacker hoped, his dream of playing FBS football is still alive: He's going to walk on to the Utah football team this spring in the hopes of playing his way into a scholarship. A source close to the program confirmed the Utes were expecting him.
Liljenquist made waves this summer when a video of him bench pressing 38 reps of 225 pounds circulated around the state. Utah, which is light on linebackers and struggled to stay healthy at the position, needs physicality and strength on defense. Liljenquist could potentially provide both.
He hopes to be healthy by March, and coaches have told him if he proves he's worth a scholarship, he'll get one.
"It just feels like a place where I can be successful," he said. "It feels like the place for me."
Utes are not alone in red-zone woes
Utah and Foster Farms Bowl opponent Indiana have something in common: They both understand the frustration of coming close without hitting paydirt.
The Utes offense had some major problems in the red zone this season, ranking No. 116 by scoring points on 76 percent of red-zone possessions and touchdowns on only half. But Indiana was in even more trouble, scoring on 71 percent of possessions and scoring only 22 touchdowns on their 45 red-zone appearances.
On paper, the two teams could be putting a lot of field goals on the board. But Utah receivers coach Guy Holiday won't be satisfied with that. He said he wants a chance for the offense to prove itself at Levi's Stadium.
"We have to put it together in the freaking red zone. Let's be honest," he said. "We have to get that together. I'm not going to shy away from that.That's one thing one area we have to do [better]. We have to make plays on the outside and, all the time, we have to block better, we have to carry the ball better, we have to be better in the red zone. If we're better in the red zone, a lot of things will be better. But we've got to get it done in the red zone. And I'm looking forward to it."
Foster Farms Bowl
P Wednesday, Dec. 28
At Levi's Stadium
Utah (8-4) vs. Indiana (6-6)
TV • 6:30 p.m. MST, Ch. 13