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Utah Kicker Chayden Johnston Departs Program

Utah's kicker Chayden Johnston smiles after a kick during a scrimmage at Rice Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City on Friday, April is 5, 2019. (Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Sophomore Chayden Johnston was in line to take over the field goal kicking duties at Utah and continue the prorgram’s rich tradition of talent at the position.

However, Johnston announced via social media early Thursday afternoon that he will be leaving football and pursuing a career as a health care professional.

Beat Out By Matt Gay

In 2015, Johnston signed a letter of intent straight out of Bingham High School and immediately left on a two year mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Upon his return in 2017, Johnston battled Matt Gay for the starting kicker position and eventually beat Gay out in fall camp.

During the first game of the 2017 season against the North Dakota Fighting Hawks, Utah compiled an 11-play drive that ended in Johnston attempting a 45-yard field goal from the left hash.

He missed the kick left by a foot.

By the time Utah had another opportunity to put three points on the board, there was 1:15 left on the clock in the second quarter. This time, Johnston was not called upon, instead it was Matt Gay. Gay would convert on the 33 yard attempt and go on to hit his next 14 attempts on his way to his first Lou Groza Award, given to the nations best field goal kicker that season.

From Bench To Captain

Fast forward two years and Johnston was scheduled to take over the reigns. He was voted by his peers as a captain this spring, they looked at him as a leader.

Unfortunately, the spring did not turn out to be favorable for Johnston. He was dropped to second on the depth chart mid way through spring ball. As a result, his confidence dropped with him.

His final kick as a Ute was at the Red and White spring game. Johnston had only one attempt with two seconds left in the first half in which he pulled horrible and ended missing left by 10 yards.

Next Man Up

With Johnston out of the picture, the Utes will likely hand the placekicking duties to freshman Jadon Redding. The native of Fredericksburg, Virginia joined the team as a walk-on during the spring semester.

With high expectations for the Utes going into 2019, the pressure on the freshman will be enormous. Time will tell how he responds.