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'That was a good practice': Utes kick off fall camp with plenty of optimism

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah coach Kyle Whittingham was looking for intensity in the first practice of camp.

The Utes delivered.

“Got it. Absolutely. That was a good practice,” Whittingham said. “This group has been working hard ever since January. I mean it’s just non-stop and so I didn’t expect anything different today than what we got.”

Although the weather was sunny and warm, the Utes were happy to kick things off.

“It was fun. It was hot. It was tiring,” said senior linebacker Chase Hansen. “Made some mistakes, but it feels good to be out here.”

There was plenty of optimism as the Utes began preparations for the coming season. Both the offense and the defense were pleased with the start.

“it was fun. I think this team is coming along really good,” said freshman quarterback Jack Tuttle. “The offense has just been what’s evolved into something really fantastic. All the guys know their stuff really well. For the first day coming out, it looked pretty good — still a lot to do, still a lot to fix.”

On the other side of the ball, defensive coordinator Morgan Scalley was also positive about the opening session of camp.

“You want to see juice, you want to see energy and we saw it,” Scalley said. “Not everyone is going to be 100 percent assignment-wise, technique-wise, but you want to see guys flying to the football. You want to get your guys locked in on the sideline and that’s what we saw.”

However, Scalley added that they’re not in football shape yet and his guess that will show up on the film. Summer conditioning in shorts and shirts is different than sporting the additional weight of helmets and pads as camp progresses.

“So that’s what we’ve got to get used to,” Scalley said.

Sophomore receiver Britain Covey, who completed an LDS Church mission last spring, is adjusting well.

“Day one was fun,” he said. “It felt good.”

Covey noted that it was kind of weird to be back playing again. Even so, he enthusiastically added that he loves it and that “it was classic” to be on the field.

Whittingham noted that Covey, who was a freshman All-American in 2015, has got all his quickness and speed. He just lacks a little endurance right now. That, he explained, will be resolved in the coming weeks.

“Britain Covey is back,” Whittingham said. “. . . He’s what we hoped he would be as far as his return.”

Camp continues through Aug. 18. Utah opens the season Aug. 30 at home against Weber State.

EXTRA POINTS: Quarterback Tyler Huntley practiced but did not speak with reporters as he recovers from strep throat. The junior will be fine according to Whittingham and is “a tough kid” . . . Whittingham said wide receiver Derrick Vickers, an 11th-hour qualifier from the junior college ranks, is a “great addition to the team.” Whittingham added that the Utes will find a role for him whether it be as a pure slot receiver or maybe as a part-time running back. He’s also a return guy as well . . . Linebacker Bryant Pirtle, a junior college transfer, has completed his academic work and is just awaiting verification and the posting of his degree. Whittingham is hopeful Pirtle will be in camp next week, if not earlier.