Utah tight end Brant Kuithe says he will be back in action “soon.”

How soon is the question for the Utah football program.

“I will be back soon and I don’t want to be back on the field unless I’m playing just like I was last year and I’m getting there. I’m not there yet,” Kuithe said in his first interview this fall on the “Bill Riley Show” on ESPN 700 radio.

Kuithe, who hasn’t been made available to the media this fall, tore his ACL on Sept. 24 of last year against Arizona State.

He had surgery to repair the ACL in October. The surgery was performed by Los Angeles-based doctor Neal ElAttrache, the surgeon who also did quarterback Cam Rising’s ACL surgery.

Every injury is different, including the severity, rehab and the timeline to return to play, so just because Kuithe had his surgery before Rising doesn’t necessarily mean he’ll return sooner.

“Every injury is different and my process is just taking a little bit longer and it is what it is. ... I can’t do anything about it. I’m in the situation but just continue to get better,” Kuithe said.

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Initially, Kuithe thought he would be ready for Utah’s fall camp, but the rehab has taken longer.

“I thought I was going to be ready for fall camp and I wasn’t. Just something that I’ve had to deal with and it is a struggle with it already almost being a year,” Kuithe said.

Kuithe is practicing, but like Rising, has not had the final go-ahead from ElAttrache to return to game action.

“If I was ready, I’ve never missed a game my whole college career except me tearing my ACL. I’m not that type of guy to sit out,” Kuithe said.

Utes on the air

No. 12 Utah (2-0)
vs. Weber State (2-0)
Saturday, noon MDT
Salt Lake City, Utah
TV: Pac-12 Network
Radio: ESPN 700/92.1 FM

The three-time All-Pac-12 senior tight end, who opted along with Rising to return to Utah for another year, had 50 catches for 611 yards and six touchdowns in his last fully healthy season in 2021.

“Whenever we feel like we can play at our best ability and help the team win games and play at the championship level, we are going to play,” Kuithe said.

One thing is for sure, Kuithe and his doctor are going to make certain that he’s healthy, with the injury fully healed, before returning to game action to prevent reinjury.

“A lot of times nowadays guys get pressure into playing, coming back too early. ... I’m just trying to make sure that I’m as safe as possible and I’m getting on the field and not having worries about is this going to happen again. ... I mean you never want to think about getting injured because when you do you end up getting injured. So just trying to get back on the field where I don’t think about it and I’m just playing how I used to play,” Kuithe said.

Utah Utes quarterback Cameron Rising celebrates his touchdown with Utah Utes tight end Brant Kuithe during the Rose Bowl.
Utah Utes quarterback Cam Rising (7) celebrates his touchdown with Utah tight end Brant Kuithe during the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif., on Saturday, Jan. 1, 2022. | Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News