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Utah Utes football: Christopher happy to be catching passes

Former quarterback DeVonte Christopher is now in the mix at wide receiver for the Utes.
Former quarterback DeVonte Christopher is now in the mix at wide receiver for the Utes.
Scott G. Winterton, Deseret News

DeVonte Christopher is a happy camper.

The athletic University of Utah freshman, who was a redshirt quarterback last season, has made a successful transition to wide receiver.

"I'm happy. Coaches made the decision and I went with it — whatever makes the team that much better," said Christopher, who noted it gave the other quarterbacks (Jordan Wynn, Terrance Cain and Corbin Louks) more reps in practice. "It's all a good transition and I'm happy with it.

The transfer took place during spring ball and Christopher has since worked his way into the playing rotation.

"He's made it a good transition because of his attitude," said head coach Kyle Whittingham. "He's got an excellent work ethic. He's the same guy every day. That's big in our program."

Consistency — as in having the same attitude, mentality and work ethic each day — is something the Utes value.

"No peaks and valleys," Whittingham said. "(DeVonte) does a great job with that."

Receivers coach Aaron Roderick also appreciates Christopher's attention to detail. He makes comments in position meetings outlining coverage and blocking schemes.

"DeVonte's got the ability to be a very good wide receiver. He's a really smart kid," Roderick said. "He's a quarterback and a really bright guy. He understands the whole offense and he knows the protections."

It comes with the territory as a signal caller.

"He can tell you what every guy on the field is supposed to do because quarterbacks know that," Roderick continued. "So it's nice having him in the room and I expect him to be a good player."

Christopher, who was a record-setting quarterback and the 2007 Nevada Prep Player of the Year, is eager to get back on the field. He spent his first collegiate season as a redshirt running the scout team offense.

Now, he's one of eight receivers on the travel squad.

"I was really excited when the coach told me I had cracked the eight or whatever," Christopher said. "But you know it's not final until camp is over. I've still got a lot to work on. I'll just try my best to get into the rotation."

Receiving isn't something new to Christopher. As a high school sophomore, he was an all-conference receiver. Then came a successful move to quarterback.

Christopher went on to become the first player in Nevada high school history to throw for more than 30 touchdowns in the regular season. He wound up passing for 77 scores in his two-year career at quarterback.

As a senior, Christopher racked up 3,265 yards passing with 44 touchdowns.

Playing quarterback, he noted, is in his heart. It's something he would love to do in special situations with the Utes.

"That's a very distinct possibility with his arm and background as a quarterback," Whittingham said. "You may very well see that at some point in the year."

Christopher hopes it'll happen, but he's fine with things if it doesn't.

"I still feel like I'm learning a lot of the stuff," Christopher said. "I'm just trying to take everything one day at a time and just get better, better and better."

It's an attitude that Whittingham says is paying off.

"Without question he's making strides," he said. "Where he is right now — relative to the experience he's had at the position — is a tribute to his focus, his concentration and his work ethic."

EXTRA POINTS: The Utes resume camp with a double day, beginning this morning at Rice-Eccles Stadium . . . Utah's second scrimmage is set for Tuesday . . . All sessions are closed to the public.

email: dirk@desnews.com