No doubt, it was a bittersweet year for Utah football in 2021.

The Utes endured the tragic deaths of two players, running back Ty Jordan and cornerback Aaron Lowe. They also captured their first Pac-12 championship and Rose Bowl appearance

This week, Utah cornerbacks coach Sharrieff Shah reflected on that season and what he learned from those wide-ranging experiences. 

“You never know what you’re able to withstand until it’s right upon you. I never thought I would be able to get some of my young kids to the level of pain they went through,” Shah said. “I didn’t know if I could respond that way. But you are able to do so much more than you think you can. That’s what I learned. The kids will respond in the exact same manner. 

“It’s really more than anything I’ve ever seen. What you put your mind to, you can absolutely do. … What folks don’t understand is, while we had some success, it almost felt heavier,” Shah added. “Like you didn’t want to mess it up. You wanted to do a really good job for the folks that we lost. Then you start pressing too hard. It was trying to rein back the emotion. Sometimes control your emotion. But it was achievable. Even though sometimes in the moment it seemed insurmountable, it was absolutely achievable. You can do hard things. You can not only get through it, you can really thrive and excel.”