College football • Nueheisel: Utes not yet Pac-12 contender, but ready to claim a bowl game.
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Former UCLA coach Rick Neuheisel, now an analyst for the Pac-12 Networks, observed Wednesday's practice and interviewed coaches and players for a training camp series airing this week. The show that focuses on Utah will run Friday at 8 p.m.
Neuheisel said it will take longer than many think for Utah to become a contender in the Pac-12.
"This is the third day of practice, what the NCAA refers to as an acclimation period," Neuheisel said. "Utah is going through an acclimation period, too."
Neuheisel added, however, the Utes have a really good chance of making it to a bowl game.
"I think they have the right parts in place, it just takes perseverance for it to pay off," he said. "It would be great for them to get off to a good start with the first four games. If they win the state of Utah, that would be huge and appease the natives."
Freshman Troy McCormick continues to impress Utah's coaches with his hands and will, "figure in this year somewhere," according to Utah coach Kyle Whittingham.
Whittingham said Wednesday was the third straight good day for McCormick, a 5-foot-9, 165-pound freshman out of Katy, Texas.
Whittingham said it's likely McCormick will play a slot role for the Utes and could return kickoffs.
McCormick's rise isn't putting any pressure on returning running back Kelvin York, who, according to Whittingham, has separated himself from the other runners.
"It's a matter of him staying healthy," Whittingham said of York. "He has to be durable."
Junior college transfer Tevin Carter is several weeks away from joining the team. Whittingham said, with Carter's lingering academic issues, Reshawn Hooker has been moved from linebacker to safety.
"We have to have a plan 'B'," Whittingham said.
Freshman quarterback Micah Thomas returned to play after sitting out Tuesday's session with a pulled hamstring. But nickel back Joseph Smith was sidelined with a hamstring pull, along with receiver Andre Lewis.
"I guess it is the injury of the year," Whittingham said.
The Utes could redshirt Lewis, but Whittingham has yet to make a decision.
What we learned • With receiver Andre Lewis continuing to be sidelined with a hamstring pull, veterans Sean Fitzgerald and Anthony Denham are locked in a battle for the third spot.
What was new • was the first day for the Utes in pads and Whittingham liked the physicality he saw
Who was hot • Receiver Delshawn McClelon was singled out by Whittingham for his efforts Wednesday