Death of UCLA player a loss for Utah's Wilson
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The loss of UCLA receiver Nick Pasquale, who was struck by a vehicle and killed early Sunday morning, is also a personal loss for Utah quarterback Travis Wilson.

Wilson and Pasquale grew up playing football together, from Pop Warner to San Clemente High School.

"He was my best friend since I was 6 years old," Wilson said. "It has been hard these last couple of days but I know he is in a better place now and I know he will be looking after me this Saturday."

The two helped San Clemente High School finish 12-2 in 2011 and earn a No. 17 national ranking. They parted ways at the end of high school with Wilson heading to Utah and Pasquale walking onto the UCLA team, but Wilson said the two stayed in touch via text.

"He was an amazing kid," Wilson said. "He really wasn't the biggest kid or the strongest kid on the field, but he had the biggest heart of anybody I have known. He definitely taught me some great lessons and I definitely will never forget about him."

Pasquale was walking in a residential section of San Clemente when a car struck him. No one was arrested and the driver called in the accident.

"Sunday was a hard day for me and so was yesterday," Wilson said. "I'm still working through it, but all my friends and family have been there for me."

Props to the crowd

Oregon State coach Mike Riley said Tuesday the coaches have spent some time preparing the Beavers for the expected loud environment at Utah.

"They're always a solid, well-coached team and it will be a challenge to play them in that environment," he said.

Standing out

Utah's linebacking group has had mixed results this year due to their inexperience and youth. Utah coach Kyle Whittingham wants more consistency out of the group, singling out sophomore Jared Norris as the steadiest performer of the bunch.

The 6-foot-1, 230-pound Norris has 11 tackles and a forced fumble.

lwodraska@sltrib.com