Several Utah seniors still have a college football game or two left to play.
Safety Morgan Scalley and offensive guard Chris Kemoeatu headline a cast of Utes headed to postseason all-star games. Both Scalley and Kemoeatu are scheduled to participate in the East-West Shrine Game on Jan. 15 and the Hula Bowl on Jan. 22.
"It kind of makes life hectic with school starting up next week. I'll have to go talk to my professors and tell them I won't be there for the first couple of weeks. Hopefully, they'll be understanding," said Scalley, a graduate student who'll join Kemoeatu for the games in Maui and San Francisco. "I'm just trying to get as much exposure as possible and hopefully prove to some scouts that I can play."
Scalley, the Mountain West Conference's co-Defensive Player of the Year, plans to retain an agent by the end of the week as he pursues an NFL career. Scalley is hoping his extensive involvement on Utah's special teams units enhances his pro opportunities.
"I want it bad. I think just because I'm such a competitive individual I want to prove I can play at the next level," he said. "If I didn't go after it I think it would burn inside me for a while."
Scalley and Kemoeatu will be joined in the Hula Bowl by teammates Marty Johnson and Sione Pouha. Paris Warren, the Fiesta Bowl co-Offensive Player of the Game, is slated to play in the Gridiron Classic in Orlando. Jonathan Fanene and Tommy Hackenbruck have been invited to play in Las Vegas.
"I've said this probably 50 times, this is hands down the best senior class that Utah has ever had," said Utah coach Kyle Whittingham. "There's unbelievable talent and leadership in this crew."
THE NEW ERA: Whittingham returned from a recruiting trip to Texas Monday morning. All is well for Utah's new regime.
"It's been very smooth so far," said Whittingham. "No complaints at his point."
Though Urban Meyer served as head coach for the Fiesta Bowl, Whittingham began directing Utah's recruiting efforts when he was named to the top post on Dec. 8.
The Utes' 35-7 win over Pittsburgh in the Bowl Championship Series has, as expected, provided a boost.
"It's been very positive," said Whittingham. "Recruiting is still recruiting. It's still a battle. There's still a hierarchy as far as status of your league and so forth, but it certainly has been great exposure and great publicity for for us."
Playing so well in the game, he added, has provided an exclamation point to Utah's appeal.
AN APOLOGY: ESPN analyst Trev Alberts, who drew the ire of Utah fans with negative comments about the Utes earlier in the season, delivered an apology of sorts on the network's "Pardon the Interruption" show.
"I think I was obviously completely wrong about Utah. I thought they had a nice offense, a little bit gimmicky, but defensively is where I thought that they couldn't hang with BCS teams," said Alberts. "Pittsburgh was a three-loss team. It was an embarrassing effort on their part, I thought, in that game. But Utah just played so well and defensively they had nine sacks in that game. That was a surprise."
Though Alberts said Utah doesn't deserve a share of the national championship, he would have loved to have seen the undefeated Utes get a shot at Auburn, Oklahoma or USC.
"They don't deserve a split of the national championship," he explained. "I'm just saying it was an outstanding performance and they certainly can compete with the teams at the top."
EXTRA POINTS: University of Utah officials plan to honor the Fiesta Bowl champion football team at halftime of a men's basketball game in February . . . The directory at the football offices already reflects the coaching staff changes. Whittingham's name is now at the top of the roster . . . Utah kicker David Carroll and Whittingham's son, Tyler, enter the LDS Church's Missionary Training Center this week. Carroll is headed to the Philippines and Whittingham is going to Brazil.