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Hatfield's status for Utah's bowl is 'to be determined'

Utah defensive back Dominique Hatfield walks out of the stadium after practice at Rice Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City on Friday, Aug. 12, 2016.
Utah defensive back Dominique Hatfield walks out of the stadium after practice at Rice Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City on Friday, Aug. 12, 2016.
Scott G Winterton,

SALT LAKE CITY — Over the weekend, Utah cornerback Dominique Hatfield sent a couple of cryptic tweets regarding his future. In one, the senior captain eluded to the end of his collegiate career. In the other, Hatfield said he was 99 percent sure he wouldn’t be playing in the upcoming Foster Farms Bowl.

Both tweets were deleted shortly thereafter.

On Monday, the mystery continued when Utah coach Kyle Whittingham kept a lid on the situation.

“No comment on Domo,” he said. “We’re just working through some things.”

Follow-up questions were followed with a similar response. Marshawn Lynch and Joe Williams would have been proud.

Whittingham was first asked about Hatfield’s status for the Dec. 28 bowl game against Indiana at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif.

“No comment on Domo right now,” he said. “We’re just working through some things and ‘to be determined.’ How about that? To be determined.”

Then came an inquiry as to whether or not Hatfield was still on the team.

“To be determined. Everything is to be determined,” Whittingham said. “So . . . wish I had a better answer for you but I don’t, right now.”

The next question sought an answer as to who would decide Hatfield’s status. Whittingham or a leadership council?

“To be determined,” said the coach. “There’s a lot of moving parts. It’s nothing illegal, nothing like that.” Whittingham added that they will fix it and figure it out.

A late arriving reporter also asked about Hatfield and was met with a “to be determined” response.

“There’s no update right now,” Whittingham said. “Just to be determined. We’re just working through issues.”

Quarterback and fellow captain Troy Williams doesn’t believe the situation with Hatfield is any sort of distraction as the Utes prepare for Saturday’s departure to San Francisco for the bowl game.

“No, no. We love Domo. He’s our brother,” Williams said. “That’s up to coach Whit. I’m not really sure what’s going on.”

Williams concluded that it is not a distraction at all for the Utes.

Hatfield, who has overcome off-the-field problems in the past, has appeared in nine games this season. He has 30 tackles, four pass breakups and one interception.

An unspecified injury to nickel back Justin Thomas is lingering and the potential loss of Hatfield could leave the Utes without a couple of key contributors in the secondary.

Whittingham noted that freshmen Julian Blackmon and Terrell Burgess, who were down for a while with injuries, are back.

“So we’ll field a team,” he said.

Blackmon and Burgess provide depth at cornerback, where the Utes also have seniors Brian Allen and Reggie Porter.

Wide receiver Tyrone Smith saw some action as a defensive back late in the season and will do so again in the bowl game. Whittingham said a decision on his permanent position is going to be made in the offseason.

At safety, Utah is led by sophomore Chase Hansen and junior Marcus Williams.

The Utes are 10th in the nation with 17 interceptions this season.

*****

Foster Farms Bowl

Indiana (6-6) vs. No. 19 Utah (8-4)

Levi’s Stadium — Santa Clara, Calif.

TV: FOX

Radio: ESPN 700AM

Email: dirk@deseretnews.com

Twitter: @DirkFacer