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Under different circumstances, J.J. Dielman's blossoming moustache might be the biggest storyline for Utah's offensive line.

But the senior tackle's facial hair choices — which has earned him a great deal of ribbing from teammates and coaches alike — took a backseat to his position on Friday. During the 20 minutes media was able to watch, Dielman took first-team reps at center, where he could be playing this fall.

"It's definitely hard and different," he said, "but I'm having fun out there."

The Utes are experimenting at the position, looking for a replacement for center Hiva Lutui who had a season-ending injury in the spring. With some players missing practice to take finals on Friday, the Utes first-string lineup during the last portion of practice saw Dielman in the middle, junior college transfer Garett Bolles at left tackle and sophomore Jackson Barton at right tackle.

Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said he liked what he saw, but he's far from deciding how the line will look for SUU.

"Good-looking group, it looked like it was a good-looking combination," he said. "It's too early to make any real predictions. We've just got to get a look at things right now, and start to formulate things, particularly after a couple days in pads."

While Whittingham has said he'll put the "best five" out on the line, there is some question as to which five that is. Senior Nick Nowakowski was first-string on Thursday morning, and drew some praise from coaches for his experience and composure. Junior Lo Falemaka is also in the mix as the other true center making a push. Isaac Asiata said he took some snaps on Thursday as well.

But who might start at center may also have a lot to do with who starts at tackle: Five-star signee Bolles, from Snow College, has taken a few licks early in camp, but dealt some out as well He knows expectations are high early, and he's working to be starter-worthy.

If he can be a starting-quality tackle, it could make the Utes more comfortable with moving Dielman to center. But Bolles knows that he has a few hurdles to climb to that point, which includes some smack talk from his own fellow linemen, who take pleasure in humbling the highly touted recruit.

"The guys give me a little crap here and there, but it's just fun and games," "They're just trying to earn my trust, and I'm trying to earn their trust. We're just going to be friends and continue to grind."

Late additions

In two days as a Ute, Samson Nacua has already played on each side of the ball.

The tall freshman from Timpview with the rainbow-colored hair took Thursday reps as a safety, saying he was learning a lot from Chase Hansen and Marcus Williams. On Friday, he wore the offense's red as he lined up at receiver — hauling in a deep catch from Drew Lisk and losing his helmet in the process.

"They're already all ahead of me, grown men and all that stuff," Nacua said on Thursday. "Now it's time for me to come in and play catch-up."

The former all-stater is one of Utah's "push-forward" scholarship players, who weren't officially recruited into the 2016 class, so they will count against the 2017 class. It's a common practice for many recent Ute standouts in recent years, including Tim Patrick and Britain Covey.

Also in that group is Armand Shyne, a running back from American River College who was running through holes in the line of scrimmage on Friday, entering a tough running back competition field with Joe Williams, Troy McCormick and freshmen Zack Moss and Devonta'e Henry Cole who have both drawn praise from Whittingham.

Shyne qualified academically to come this fall, so he figured, why wait?

"I need to get used to the oxygen level here — I can't really breathe much," he said. "I'll adapt, though. I feel like I can fit in just perfectly."

In addition to Nacua and Shyne, other additions this fall who do not appear in Utah's media guide roster are receiver Dakota Baker, defensive back Julian Blackmon, linebacker Gerrit Choate, defensive back Tyson Doman, tight end Bapa Falemaka, defensive end Nick Heninger, running back Ty Murrell, receiver Dimitri Salido and offensive lineman Paul Toala. The Utes have not officially confirmed which players will receive scholarships when school begins.

SUU, Utes to play in 2022

Ahead of playing each other to kick off the college football season on Sept. 1, Utah and Southern Utah have agreed to play another game in 2022.

The game will be played on Sept. 10 at Rice-Eccles Stadium. In a school news release, Thunderbird head coach Demario Warren said he hopes to give his players a chance to play the Utes at least once in their careers.

"It'll be fun to hopefully be able to play up there every 4-6 years so every Utah kid that comes through this program will be able to play in that stadium and in that environment," he said.

‚ÄčThe Utes and Thunderbirds have never met on the football field prior to this season.

Twitter: @kylegoon