SALT LAKE CITY — A little over a year and a half ago, Dylan Slavens walked onto the Utah football team.

A successful quarterback at Springville High School, Slavens didn’t record a statistic during his freshman year, and still hasn’t, ten games into this season.

Chase Hansen, meanwhile, is one of the preeminent football players at Utah. Eighty-eight tackles this season, a team-high, speak for themselves.

Then there is Britain Covey. The team leader in receptions (54) and receiving yards (603), Covey has been responsible for more than a few Sportscenter-worthy highlights this season.

For most, football is what unites the three.

Take that away and they still have something, or rather someone specific in common — Devonta’e Henry-Cole.

Henry-Cole, affectionately known as DHC, has been out of the limelight and for good reason — he is out for the year with a hand injury.

“It was pre-existing. It’s just something that hasn’t healed like we hoped and required another surgery, so we’re going to miss him this year,” Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham told the Deseret News during fall camp.

You’d be forgiven if you’d forgotten about DHC, amidst the near-record-breaking season of Zack Moss, his subsequent season-ending injury and the rise of Armand Shyne.

For Slavens, Covey and Hansen, Henry-Cole has been anything but absent, even as he has been away from the team.

He is one of their best friends, the type of person not easily forgotten.

“He is the kind of guy that makes friends with everybody. He has the type of personality that everyone loves,” Hansen said of Henry-Cole.

“Devontae is one of those people that you meet and you just see light coming from them,” added Covey.

“He is just a good guy,” Slavens summed up. “He is one of the guys that will go out of his way to talk to you, to meet you.”

While there are certainly many examples across the Utah roster, the friendships of Henry-Cole, Hansen, Slavens, and Covey illustrate just how far off the field relationships between teammates go — how guys can go from teammates to brothers.

Hansen met Henry-Cole early on in their Utah football careers and their relationship quickly went beyond football.

“Since he got here we have become pretty close,” Hansen said. “We quickly got talking. We talked about girls, the (LDS) church, stuff like that. Just all sorts of stuff that got us real close.”

For Slavens it was a similar experience.

“Devonta’e and I met last year when I walked on, and he kind of took me under his wing,” he said. “He had been in the program a little bit longer than I had and he just took me under his wing. He invited me to hang out.”

That included at the Springville’s Art City Days this summer.

“We hung out all the time at that,” said Slavens. “That was awesome.”

Covey met Henry-Cole days after returning from his LDS mission to Chile, and he and Henry-Cole became fast friends.

“I actually met him after I came back, the week after, and we became friends,” said Covey. “It has been really fun.”

In each players case, Henry-Cole became a real part of their lives and they his.

When Henry-Cole decided, after attending church for years with Hansen and others, to learn more about the LDS Church, Hansen and Covey were there at his side.

“They supported me from the beginning when I was interested,” Henry-Cole said. “Brit, Chase, Dylan, all those guys are good guys."

They’ve been there for him throughout this missed season.

“It has been rough for me, sitting out this year,” Henry-Cole said. “Everyone has supported me. That has kept me going.”

That support continued two months ago when Henry-Cole decided to join the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

In attendance at his baptism were Hansen, Covey and Slavens.

Hansen actually baptized Henry-Cole. After all, what are friends for?

“It was one of the coolest experiences I have ever had,” said Hansen. “It was very special to me, a cool moment getting to baptize him. It was really special.”

That is just the type of bond the teammates have, one that goes well beyond football.

It is one they hope to have for many years to come.

“We’ve created a bond between both of us that’ll last forever,” said Hansen. “Hopefully we can grow as friends and become better dudes. Look out for each other and better ourselves together.”

“It means everything,” Henry-Cole added.

No. 19 Utah (7-3, 5-3) at Colorado (5-5, 2-5)

  • Folsom Field — Boulder
  • Saturday, 11:30 a.m. (MT)
  • TV: Pac-12 Networks
  • Radio: ESPN 700AM