SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 Sports) – This may be the most talented football team Utah has ever had.
While most of that talent comes from out of state, there are roughly 13 players from local high schools expected to make big contributions this season.
From Timpview High’s Britain Covey and Samson Nacua, to Layton High’s Julian Blackmon, to Herriman’s Francis Bernard and Leki Fotu, to West Jordan’s John Penisini, to Brighton’s Sione Lund, to Highland’s Pita Tonga, to Maxs Tupai from Murray, the Utes roster is loaded with local talent.
“Every college football player takes a lot of pride from where they come from,” said Covey. “If you want to offend someone on the team, just walk by and say, ‘Texas high school football sucks!’ And you’ll have like six guys stand up and say, ‘Oh, Timpview sucks!’ and just get mad. So, we definitely take a lot of pride in Utah football because we just think that it’s really underrated.”
When most people think of Utah high school players, they usually think of big linemen, like Fotu, Penisini and Tupai. But there are plenty of skill position players that come out of Utah as well.
“Oh Utah, they’ve got big guys, Polys, that’s usually what you hear,” said safety Julian Blackmon. “Then they’re like, ‘Julian, where are you from? Texas? California?’ I’m like, ‘I’m from Layton, Utah. They’re like, ‘No you’re not.’ I’m like, ‘No, I am, and I’m faster than you too, so now what?'”
“It’s different out here,” added Nacua. “You’re not going to get really big time flashy athletes, but you’ve got athletes out here for sure that will come up to the D-1 football leagues and we’ll make something happen.”
Nacua and Covey were teammates at Timpview High, and while Covey played quarterback in high school, they are now a big part of the Utes receiving corps.
“It’s been so fun, and it’s especially been fun because we’re both playing the same position,” Covey said. “In high school, he would never study the plays. I’d all the play and say, ‘Left trio, levels, Y-post. Samson, you’ve got to dig.’ Because he would never remember the plays, so I’d have to look at him and tell him exactly what he had.”
“Yeah, we would go into the games, he’d call the play and I’d walk over to him right after we broke the huddle and say, ‘OK, Covey, what rout do got?” Nacua said. “He’d be like, ‘Just run a go.’ I’d be like, ‘all right, sounds good. I’ll be open. Throw it to me.'”
“We really do take pride in having that core Utah group,” Blackmon said. “Just being able to play with D-1 kids, it just shows that we can do it.”