Utes “Respected”, But Vele Wants Them “Feared”

Aug 8, 2022, 3:40 PM | Updated: 6:14 pm
Devaughn Vele - Utah Utes - USC Trojans...
Devaughn Vele #17 of the Utah Utes, left, is congratulated by teammates after scoring a touchdown on a first half pass reception during a college football game on October 9, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images)
(Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY- Utah wide receiver Devaughn Vele is ready to see the Utes take the next step in their growth as a college football power. 2021 gave them unprecedented respect amongst their peers and national pundits, but in 2022, Vele wants to Utah to advance to a team to be feared.


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“We should still have that ‘chip’ on our shoulder,” Vele said. “One thing coach Whitt has brought up and I actually really liked was being a team that is ‘feared’ rather than ‘respected’. I mentioned it earlier in another interview- a lot of teams respect us now.”

We did it on a national stage, we won a Pac-12 Championship, went nose-and-nose with Ohio State,” Vele continued. “Everybody respects us. They see us now and they are like, ‘that’s a really good football team’, but we want to be a fearful team. People see Alabama on their schedule and are like, ‘oh my goodness, it’s Alabama, it’s the Crimson Tide.’ We want that same thing for Utah now. That’s the next step we have to go to. Now that we are respected, we need people to fear us.”

Underdogs No More

The Utes have a rich history of taking big jumps that get people’s attention. The 1994 team seemingly came out of nowhere after years of mediocrity at best to end the year ranked #8 in the Coaches Poll and #10 in the AP Poll.

In 2004, an Urban Meyer led Utah team “busted” the “unbustable” Bowl Championship Series to many people’s surprise. That team would go 12-0, earning a coveted spot at the Fiesta Bowl where they beat up on Pittsburgh 35-7. Four years later they would do it again under Kyle Whittingham going 13-0 with a 31-17 win over Alabama in the Sugar Bowl.

In 2021, Utah surprised the world once more starring two unthinkable tragedies right in the face while winning their first-ever Pac-12 Championship in football and going toe-to-toe with Ohio State in the Rose Bowl.

In almost all of those instances the Utes were considered underdogs, but in 2022 the expectations are high. No one is doubting the Utes on a national level anymore, instead, they are expecting them to be one of the best teams in the country. In the recently released USA Today Coaches Poll, the Utes were ranked #8- the highest preseason rank in school history.

With more eyeballs on them, Vele and Whitt’s thoughts about turning things up from being simply “respected” to “feared” might just be the edge the team needs to make more magic happen for a program that’s been on a steady 20-plus year rise.

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