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FINALLY, KAUFUSI GETS GREEN LIGHT

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The waiting game is finally over for Jeff Kaufusi and he's ready for a big senior season at the University of Utah.

Ever since he came to Utah three years ago, Kaufusi feels like he's been in a waiting mode. In 1994, he didn't get clearance to play until a week before the season began and then spent several weeks catching up.Last year, he never recovered from a hamstring injury and had to sit out the entire season. More waiting.

Then this year, questions arose about his eligibilty and he had to wait for official word from the NCAA before he getting the OK to play this year, although he was able to practice. He finally got official clearance last week and now he's rarin' to get after it in his senior season for Utah.

The question mark stemmed from clear back in 1989 when he first went to Dixie College, but sat out with an injury. It seemed like an obvious decision for the Utes, but they apparently didn't provide the NCAA with the proper documentation about Kaufusi's first injury season.

The Utes and Kaufusi waited all summer for word from the NCAA, which gave Ute officials positive indications that he would be eligible. But it wasn't until last week that the Utes received a formal letter from the NCAA, saying Kaufusi could play.

Even though it seemed like a slam dunk to others, Kaufusi was worried all summer.

"When you go to lift, go to meetings, go to workouts, it sticks in the back of your head," he said. "I'm just glad it's over with."

Last year's bad fortune, has turned into good fortune for the Utes in more ways than one. The Utes, of course, are thrilled to have Kaufusi back for another year. But Kaufusi's injury allowed others, such as Chad Kauhaahaa, to develop their games.

"It was really frustrating," said Kaufusi. "It was hard to watch, but I would visualize each game as if I were playing in them."

Last year, Ute defensive coordinator Kyle Whittingham said the best linemen in the WAC was sitting out and he reiterates that this year by saying Kaufusi is the best D-lineman in the conference.

Kaufusi just shrugs when you tell him that and says, "I just try to do my best and work hard play by play."

The big question is where will Kaufusi play? With Kauhaahaa and Nate Kia returning as starting ends, Kaufusi is needed more on the inside. But he'll still play a lot of end in Utah's rotating system.

"Wherever the coaches need me I'll play," he said. "The D-line is right there," he said. "All the guys have good techniques - now we have to put the mental part in there."

IMPROVED FOUTS: Mike Fouts has looked sharp all through fall camp and he said he's feeling a lot more comfortable with the Ute system this year.

"I know a lot more about what I'm doing out there," he said. "The biggest part of being a quarterback is the mental side, knowing who to throw to and when to throw. I've watched a lot of film and become a lot more familiar with the routes."

Fouts is especially excited about his group of receivers, which includes Kevin Dyson, Rocky Henry, Terence Keehan, John Ballard, Marvin Chalmers, Donny Utu, Daniel Jones and others.

"We definitely have a bunch of great receivers," he said. "Any one of them can be dangerous."

UTE NOTES: Chris Hunter has earned the starting punter job, edging out last year's starter Dan Pulsipher and Keehan. Ute coaches have been happy with Hunter's booming punts and this allows Pulsipher to concentrate on placekicking and Keehan on playing wide receiver . . . Brandon Jones will be the No. 2 quarterback for the opener after beating off a challenge from redshirt freshman Scott Styles for the job . . . Freshman quarterback Darnell Arceneaux from Hawaii has been cleared to practice. Most likley he and JC transfer Jonathan Crosswhite will redshirt . . . Most of the injuries from Camp Carbon have cleared up. Calbert Beck may be out another week or two with his sore hamstring and will likely be replaced by Teneil Ethridge in the starting lineup. Defensive back Mark Livingston is out for three weeks with torn MCL in his knee . . . Receiver Rocky Henry, out all of camp with a bad hamstring, was cleared to start practicing Monday, but he is still just 75 percent according to trainer Bill Bean.