Paul Maile is looking to take over for Nick Ford at the critical center position on Utah’s offensive line. 

He’s not new to the position, having played a few games there last year due to injuries to other players on the O-line. But he’s certainly taking on a big responsibility.

So what did Maile learn from Ford that he can carry with him this season? 

“You’ve got to be vocal. If you know me outside of football, I like to keep to myself and not really be that loud,” he said. “But when I come on the field, I’ve got to flip a switch. Even though I don’t like talking, I’m the loudest out there. That’s what I learned from Nick — being vocal and not being afraid to mess up. They’re looking for someone and I’m trying to be that guy.”

Offensive line coach Jim Harding liked what he saw from Maile during fall camp.

What’s the next barrier for Utah football to break down? Kyle Whittingham has an answer
‘He’s grown into a grown man’: Why this Utah wide receiver was ‘Money’ in fall camp

“Paul’s done a really nice job for us,” he said. “The thing that he brings more than anything, he’s doing a nice job on the field but his leadership, his toughness, those are things that aren’t necessarily going to show up in any sorted graded work. He’s the most vocal guy out there. He’s really embraced that role. That’s important at the center position because he’s the one making the majority of calls. He has a really high football IQ.”

Maile enjoys having the responsibility of playing center on his shoulders. 

“I love it. I love doing all the talking, all the communicating,” he said. “The best part of my game is what you can’t see — my mind. I do a pretty good job of putting our players where they need to be.”

The three games that Maile played at center last year were invaluable. And it was reassuring to the coaches.

“As a coaching staff, it certainly gives you some comfort knowing that he played in some really important games for us down the stretch,” Harding said. “Certainly, that move was caused by Keaton Bills’ appendectomy. It wasn’t something we were planning but Paul certainly did go in and perform well. It’s comforting to know that he’s not going to be blown away by the moment. He’s done it. We certainly expect him to continue that at a high level.”

The offensive line is gelling well, Maile said, adding that the competition has been strong. 

“Honestly, we’re really close off the field. We’ll go to lunch, get dinner now and then. That good chemistry off the field has translated to good chemistry on the field. Even during the summer, you could see that we were used to playing with each other. Having that chemistry already there gave us a head start going into camp,” he said. “A lot of competition. A lot of good dudes in our room and a lot of good, young talent. There’s competition every day and we’re trying to make each other better.”

View Comments

Maile said Braeden Daniels, who is taking over at left tackle for Utah, is another leader on the O-line.  

“Braeden’s been starting since his second year,” Maile said. “He knows what’s expected of our group and he knows what we need to do to get stuff done.”

Maile knows an important part of his job is to be vocal and make sure the O-line is on the same page.

It’s a job he’s looking forward to doing at a high level this season. 

Join the Conversation
Looking for comments?
Find comments in their new home! Click the buttons at the top or within the article to view them — or use the button below for quick access.