UTAH UTES

Vele On Wide Receiver Leadership, Young Talent

Aug 9, 2022, 10:43 AM

Cam Rising - Utah Utes - Arizona Wildcats...

Quarterback Cameron Rising #7 of the Utah Utes celebrates with Devaughn Vele #17 after scoring on a 11-yard rushing touchdown against the Arizona Wildcats during the first half of the NCAAF game at Arizona Stadium on November 13, 2021 in Tucson, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY- Utah wide receiver Devaughn Vele has a pretty remarkable story that many believe will be more widely known after the 2022 season. Over the years, Vele has shown flashes of what he could be in the Utes’ offense, but appears ready to take a step forward along with fellow receiver Solomon Enis in leadership and bringing the younger talent along.

“As helpful as the label of wide receiver one is for me, I’m still the same guy,” Vele said. “I want to make sure I’m still working on my craft. I’m being a lot more vocal in the wide receiver room, not to the point because I am wide receiver one I have to talk more, but more just trying to help the younger guys learn the things I wish I knew when I first got there. Helping them pick up on little things so they have a smooth transition to when they become veterans.”

From Walk-On To Number One

Vele can’t help but marvel how far he’s come from his days as an unknown walk-on and how much his role on the team has changed. The leadership aspect is something Vele is not taking lightly and has been working very hard to make sure Utah’s young talent is as up-to-speed as possible.

“Time flies. I feel like I was a freshman not too long ago- a freshman walk-on and now they have me as a wide receiver one and I have freshmen coming in,” Vele said. “It’s helping them understand that and getting used to the culture here. Just making the whole group become a fine-tuned group.”

Part of being a leader for the wide receiver group according to Vele is having a better overall understanding of the game, not just for himself, but for the upcoming players as well.

 

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“You have to be able to explain it to the younger guys,” Vele said. “This offense is like the NFL. How we run our offense, there are a lot of checks and a lot of things we do to read coverages now. I never knew how to read coverages in high school. You just would run one release and out-beat the other person because you would be a better athlete than them.”

“Now it’s one of those things where everyone is an athlete on the field and you have to help the younger guys understand that,” Vele continued. “It was hard for me at first to understand that situation and understand they look to me as a role model, but it’s helped me a lot because now I have to make sure I’m coming every day because people are watching me. I’m not longer behind the scenes.”

Show Me The Money

One of the younger receivers that has been in the program for a while that Vele is high on is Money Parks. Last season Parks showed flashes of his abilities, especially against USC, but couldn’t do it consistently. Vele says Parks has shown tremendous growth since then and could be a factor for Utah this year.

“I’m so proud of that guy,” Vele said. “If you guys would have seen the development he’s made- it’s amazing. When he first got here you could definitely see he was that freshman. He didn’t really understand the plays, he was just using his athleticism to get him out of a lot of situations, but this is the first time in fall camp where we are watching him grow up in front of our eyes. The plays he is making now- that’s how you understand respecting the process that we always talk about. When you respect the process the game will take care of you and it’s definitely doing that for Money Parks right now.”

From Scout Team To Starters

Vele and quarterback Cam Rising have been working together for a long time at Utah. Both players were on the scout team during 2019 helping to groom one of the best defenses the program has ever had for games and in the process they began grooming a connection they are using out on the field today.

“I always bring it up when we talk about running that scout team in 2019,” Vele said. “I think that was the first time we really got to mesh and understand each other because we were going up against one of the best defenses Utah has had every single day on scout team. It helped us understand our strengths and weaknesses and also being vocal with each other. We always talk to each other after practice when we’d make a mistake in practice, but we always try to talk to each other and make sure we understand the thought process going on. Why did he have to throw it early? Why did I do that release? Understanding that can help us come game time be on the same page. We don’t have to talk about it, we can just look at each other and know what we’re going to do.”

The New Guys

Utah has a few new faces in the receiver room they are high on early in camp. Both Tao Johnson and Sydney Mbanasor have impressed and have an opportunity to be big contributors for the Utes as freshmen according to Vele.

“A lot of growth. They are very mature for freshmen, I’m not going to lie,” Vele said. “They will have a big role this year. It’s one of those things where you can’t be complacent with being a freshman. Like, ‘it’s ok, I’m a freshman, there are a lot of older guys in front of me. I’ll have my time in a couple of years.’ It’s like, no, this is the year you need to step up. We have so much depth this year that we could play a lot of guys. It’s trying to help them understand the offense. Athleticism I have no worries about them, Tao is fast and Sidney can just jump out the gym. He’s super tall. He makes me look short. Like I felt like Britain Covey standing next to him, but it’s helping those guys understand the playbook.”

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Vele On Wide Receiver Leadership, Young Talent