Utah football • Prized running back recruit has struggled to adjust.
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Former Bingham High star Harvey Langi had visions of taking the field for the Utah Utes and making defenders' heads spin as they tried to keep up with him. Instead, it has been his own head spinning.
Langi, a high school All-American who led the Miners to back-to-back state titles, has been conspicuously absent from the running game this year.
The Utes, who are desperate for an added running threat to help starter John White, have rarely gone to Langi, one of the most recruited players in the state in recent years.
The 6-foot-1, 225-pound freshman has just eight carries for 37 yards, which might have been a good enough number for a quarter's work from him in high school, but certainly isn't the total he was hoping for through seven games.
His progress has been slowed because the jump to the college level has been harder than he thought it would be, Langi said.
His time at Utah has been both a learning and humbling experience.
"Everyone comes here with a lot of playing experience," he said. "You're the guys who never sat on the bench and are never those guys on the scout teams, but it's a process you have to go through. You take what opportunities you are given to the fullest and go all out. I'm working hard and giving everything I can to this team so when the opportunity comes, I can be ready."
Those opportunities might increase as the Utes look more and more like a run-driven team. The Utes don't want to rely on John White to carry the ball 36 times like he did against Pitt and are looking for other players to share carries.
So far Langi hasn't gotten many chances because he simply hasn't been good enough to warrant taking the ball out of White's hands, Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said.
"He needs to keep progressing in all areas," Whittingham said. "He is strong and fast and has a lot of natural ability, but he is stuck behind John White, who is a darn good back. He is progressing, but not to the point where he can take carries away from John White."
The area in which Langi has struggled the most is pass protection, as Langi has found the demands on him at the college level are much more than they were at Bingham.
"In high school, it was one guy and I was out," he'd say. "I'd check one guy down, then I was out running a route. Here, you can have different schemes, audibles, the quarterback can tell you to go here or there and guys can switch around. It was like a math problem."
To improve, Langi put himself through his own version of study hall.
"I learned how committed you have to be off the field," he said. "You aren't just a football player from 1 to 6 or 1 to 4, but you have to study football whenever you can and hit the books and film room. I've had a lot of stuff on my plate, but I'm figuring it all out and getting it down. I'm trying to prepare and hope for the best."
The Utes had hoped Langi, who enrolled in January, would be more of a factor since he had an early start in practicing with the team. However, Whittingham said Langi's struggles aren't uncommon.
"It's tough to come in as a high school senior and make an impact as a freshman," he said.
Langi said he is remaining positive.
"Every day in practice, I try to steal a rep here or there, ask questions on this and that so when the opportunity comes, I'll know what to do and hopefully they'll get more confident in me that when the lights come on, I won't shiver and freeze up," he said. "I'll keep working hard."
Utah running back carries
Few players are getting carries besides John White. Here is a breakdown of the top rushers:
Name Att Yrd Avg
John White 143 710 5.0
Reggie Dunn 7 87 12.4
Harvey Langi 8 37 4.6
Tauni Vakapuna 17 27 1.6
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