When you consider that Utah returns Deron Claiborne and Henry Lusk, who each caught 42 passes last year, along with Curtis Marsh, he of the 84-yard bomb from Mike McCoy in the BYU victory, things look bright for Utah's receiving corps in '94.
Well, they do as long as none of the above three get injured. Because the Utes have virtually no experience among their other receivers. And the Utes need to use five or six wideouts per game in their offensive scheme.Gone from a year ago are the Utes' top two receivers, four-year starter Bryan Rowley, who earned second-team all-American honors with 55 catches and Greg Hooks, who caught 43 passes.
Claiborne proved to be a big-play man, as he picked up a lot of yardage after catching the ball (19 yards per reception). Lusk, who will play fullback and tight end as well as slot back, had that memorable 59-yard TD reception in the Freedom Bowl, where he was named the Utes' MVP. Marsh, while known more for his dropped passes until the BYU game, has pleased coaches with his play in the spring and fall practices.
"Those three guys can play with anyone in this league," said Ute receiver coach Fred Graves. "They've got the experience and a lot of confidence. We just need to find two or three more guys."
The most experienced of the other players battling for backup receiver slots is David Kozlowski, brother of former BYU star Glen Kozlowski. He had a remarkable collegiate debut in 1992 when he caught five passes for 101 yards against Utah State. But a shoulder injury turned last year into a redshirt season and also caused him to miss spring practice.
Kevin Dyson, a star on the Clearfield state champion team of 1992, is playing well along with John Ballard, a JC transfer from San Diego and Chris Christensen, a walk-on from Hillcrest High. Jamil Williams, a JC transfer from Los Angeles, was expected to be in camp today after getting some academic paperwork completed.
"It's a talented group - it's just not as experienced as last year," said Graves.
The tight end position might be the Utes' biggest hole to fill. Kurt Haws has taken his talents to the pros, leaving little experience at the position.
Rick Tucker, a transfer from Bakersfield JC, earned the job in spring ball, but Jeff Jex from Rich High School and Chris Jahries, a freshman from San Diego, are close behind.