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One of the elder statesmen of Utah's defense is transferring out of the program.
The Tribune has learned that senior defensive tackle Stevie Tu'ikolovatu is leaving the Utes in search of more playing time. As a graduate transfer, he'll be immediately eligible to play this fall at his new school.
Several outlets linked Tu'ikolovatu to Nebraska as a possible destination.
Tu'ikolovatu, 24, played in 25 games with the Utes. Last fall, he played in all 13 games and recovered four fumbles, http://bit.ly/1Ku0n9X">including one for a touchdown against Fresno State. Beyond his on-field exploits, Tu'ikolovatu http://bit.ly/1FbPxJO">showed a light-footed sense of humor as well.
While the East High grad was a long-time fixture at back-up tackle, the Tribune has learned he will look for a new school where he has a better shot at a starting role. While he was considered a valuable returner for Utah, he was still caught in the depth chart behind juniors Lowell Lotulelei and Filipo Mokofisi.
Fortunately for the Utes, defensive line is one of the deepest positions on the team. Among returners, Pasoni Tasini and Alani Havili-Katoa stand to earn additional reps. The Utes also have 2016 signees and returning missionaries who could compete for playing time when fall camp begins.