Richards shines in scrimmage
Utah Notes -

Derrek Richards

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2006, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Receiver Derrek Richards already is a starter for the Utah Utes, so he has not received quite the same attention during training camp as the quarterbacks who are battling for a starting job.

But if he keeps playing the way he did during the team's second scrimmage of training camp on Thursday, Richards soon will become a star attraction.

The junior from American Fork caught five passes for 115 yards and two touchdowns, outshining everybody at Rice-Eccles Stadium with some of the biggest plays of the day. Most notably, he scorched freshman cornerback Josh Woods to haul in a 55-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Tommy Grady.

“He's having a great camp,” offensive coordinator Andy Ludwig said. “I couldn't be more pleased with his progress. We had some discussions early in the camp, saying, 'You have to improve in these things,' and the next practice - whoo, he put it on tape. It was a great exhibition today.”

The former walk-on and high school sprinter caught 16 passes for 239 yards and four touchdowns last season.

Injury report

Once again, the Utes played without a number of projected starters - mostly as a precaution, but a some were because of injuries they already have suffered.

Safety Eric Weddle and defensive tackle Kelly Talavou sat out mostly to avoid injury, while receiver Brent Casteel is recovering from a slightly sprained ankle and middle linebacker Joe Jiannoni continues to nurse a sore foot.

Linebacker Kyle Brady is out for several weeks with a sprained knee, and receiver Bradon Godfrey might have suffered a mild concussion. Receiver Fano Tagovailoa suffered his own sprained knee after making three catches for 31 yards, but the injury is not believed to be serious.

Soaring confidence

Cornerback Brice McCain made two of the best defensive plays of the scrimmage, returning an interception 28 yards and drilling Godfrey after a catch.

And McCain knows why.

“I feel comfortable and relaxed,” he said. “I feel like I can play with anybody. My confidence level is real high.”

The sophomore earned a starting job last season as a freshman, but acknowledged that he did so despite while feeling uncertain about his role.

“Last year, I was just young,” he said. “It was different, and I was going through a lot of stuff at home. But it's good now. Real good. . . . I don't know how good I could be.”

mcl@sltrib.com