SALT LAKE CITY — One of the big concerns for the Utah football team and its fans heading into Tuesday’s Alamo Bowl is the secondary.
All-League cornerback Jaylon Johnson has announced his intentions to turn pro and won’t play in the game against Texas. Starting free safety Julian Blackmon is out with a serious knee injury. Backup free safety R.J. Hubert will also miss the game with an injury.
Hey, what about Javelin Guidry?
Yeah, what about Javelin Guidry?
The junior from Murrieta, California, has started in the Ute secondary since his freshman year and will be counted on this week to help shut down Texas’ potent passing game.
Everybody seems to be forgetting about the speedy Guidry, which is par for the course.
“It’s been like that my whole life so I’m pretty much used to it,” he said with a shrug and a smile.
He said defensive coordinator Morgan Scalley “tells me all the time” how he deserves more attention than he gets.
Head coach Kyle Whittingham agrees that Guidry may be the most overlooked player on the entire Ute team.
“He gets way overlooked. His value to this football team is huge,” Whittingham said. “That slot corner position is difficult to play. He has been rock solid for us for three years now and he doesn’t get his due. He’s got some really good players around him that were upperclassmen this year, but he’s been a guy who has been instrumental to our success.”
Guidry, who is not only the fastest player on the Ute squad, is one of the fastest in all of college football. Last winter, he competed, unaffiliated, in a national meet at the University of Washington, the 60-meter dash and won with a time of 6.59 seconds, which was tied for seventh-fastest in the world at the time.
With his superior speed, Guidry probably could have excelled as a wide receiver in college, but he found his niche in the defensive backfield.
Guidry has been the starter at nickel back ever since his freshman year. He’s not in on every defensive play, but against a passing team like Texas, “he’ll be on the field pretty much the whole game,” according to Whittingham.
Guidry is often called upon to cover the opposing team’s fastest player, but he’s also expected to play in the box and make tackles. He had 25 as a freshman, 41 last year and ranks fifth on the team with 42 tackles this year.
So what exactly is a “nickel back?”
“Basically a faster linebacker,” is how Guidry describes himself.
“It’s a mixture of DB and linebacker, so I’m required to cover fast receivers like a DB, but sometimes in zone I’m responsible like a linebacker in B gaps or C gaps,” he said. “I’m in the middle of everything. I love my position.”
But he’s only 5-foot-9 and 193 pounds. Who’s ever heard of a 193-pound linebacker in this day and age?
“I can bang with them, though,” Guidry said. “Just ask Francis (Bernard). He knows.”
So we did.
Bernard, Utah’s all-Pac-12 middle linebacker talked about Guidry’s exceptional speed but also how he’s tough enough to make linebacker plays.
“When you have a guy do that, it’s such a centerpiece to our defense and we don’t have to worry about him because he does such a terrific job,” Bernard said. “He’s little, but he’s able to come play in the box — he does it all. People haven’t talked about him as much this year, but he does a terrific job.”
Josh Nurse, one of Utah’s starting cornerbacks, also praises his mate in the secondary, saying, “He brings a lot to the table. He does so much. He brings speed and quickness. He’s smart and a good communicator. Getting to work alongside him is a real benefit.”
It’s kind of ironic that Guidry ended up at Utah, despite being such a star on the track, since Utah doesn’t field a men’s track and field team.
He recalls a track meet in high school when it was announced that he was going to play football at Utah and the track crowd reacted with disappointment when they were told Utah doesn’t field a track team.
“A lot of track people were upset at me for not going to a place that has track with all my speed,” he said. “But I was able to show what I could do this past spring in the nationals in Washington.”
And even though his father, also named Javelin, and younger brother, John, both went to UCLA, Guidry has enjoyed his time at Utah.
As for the future, Guidry said he “loves track” and “it will always be in my mind.”
Bernard sees “bigger and better things for him” going into next season, but Guidry doesn’t want to talk about next year, preferring to only worry about the upcoming bowl game.
“I’m not really focused on that right now, just focused on Texas.” he said. “Just getting this W for the seniors and going out with a bang.”