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Whittingham Creatively Hands Out Three Scholarships In Three Days

Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham during fall camp. (Photo courtesy of Utah Athletics)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Over the last three days of fall camp for the University of Utah, head coach Kyle Whittingham and his staff have handed out three scholarships to walk-on’s, giving them to hard working players and did it in a very creative way.

Whittingham held on to a few scholarships to see who deserved them in during fall camp.

He awarded scholarships to tight end Ali’i Niumatalolo, defensive end Malik Haynes and running back Mason Woodward.

Whittingham really enjoys handing out scholarships to his players that have worked hard to earn it.

“Scholarships is if not the best, one of the best aspects of being a head coach,” Whittingham said. “These guys come in and work their tail off for two, three or four years, bleed and sweat like everybody else but pay their own way the whole time. To be able to reward them is very gratifying.”

The great enjoyment from these scholarship announcements is seeing the reaction from the team as they celebrate a big accomplishment for a walk-on.

Ali’i Niumatalolo

Niumatalolo is a junior from Annapolis, Maryland. He walked on as a linebacker as a freshman before moving to fullback as a sophomore and is now a tight end. Niumatalolo played special teams in nine games last season and at fullback against UCLA.

He found out about his scholarship when the team was in a meeting with coach Whittingham, who told the team that they he had a video from Ali’i’s father and Navy head coach Ken Niumatalolo. When they played the video, Ken had his team behind him as he was wishing the Utes good luck. At the end of the video he told his son that he was put on scholarship.

This was discussed on the Crimson Corner podcast.

Malik Haynes

Haynes is a 6’2, 250 lbs. senior from Hauula, Hawaii. He walked on at Utah in 2017. He played on special teams against BYU last season.

He found out about his scholarship during another team meeting with coach Whittingham. A pizza delivery man knocked on the door of the meeting room and entered with a giant box of pizza. The delivery person walked the box to Whittingham, who opened the box and read a note saying that Haynes was put on scholarship. Yes, Haynes enjoyed a slice of pizza after making his speech to the team.

Mason Woodward

Woodward is a 5’9, 216 lbs. senior running back from Syracuse High School in West Point, Utah. He walked on in the fall of 2016. He used a redshirt as a freshman. In 2017, he played four games on special teams against UCLA, Washington State, Colorado and their bowl game against West Virginia. Last season, Woodward played in 11 games on special teams and played running back in two games against UCLA and Colorado. He had two rushes for six yards.

He found out about his scholarship when Whittingham had the equipment managers introduce themselves after the conclusion of fall camp. At the end of the row of managers was a woman wearing a hat and sunglasses. She introduced herself as Woodward’s wife and told him he was on scholarship.

The ideas behind these announcements don’t come from Whittingham completely.

“We have a think tank,” Whittingham said. “I am in the think tank, but I can’t take credit for all of it.”