Utah Football ‘Excited To Be Here Again’

Dec 28, 2022, 10:05 PM | Updated: Dec 29, 2022, 9:52 am
Utah and Penn State football teams with Mickey Mouse at Disneyland as part of the Rose Bowl Welcome Event. (Photo cred: Sean Teegarden, Disneyland Resorts)
(Photo cred: Sean Teegarden, Disneyland Resorts)

ANAHEIM, CA- Utah is making the rounds of their second straight Rose Bowl starting with the Disneyland Welcome Event on December 28. Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham, and players Cam Rising, Devaughn Vele, RJ Hubert, and Devin Kaufusi were on hand for the cavalcade and brief interview afterward. It was clear Utah football is excited to be back at the “Grandaddy of them All” but is also on a mission.


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“We’re excited about being here again and looking forward to the rest of the week,” Whittingham said after the cavalcade.

Striking A Balance

While the Utes are thrilled to be back in Pasadena and enjoying some of the fruits of their labors, they also know there is work to be done too. Vele noted it is a delicate balance to strike but feels like he and his teammates have managed enjoying the experience with putting in the work too.

“I don’t think it’s necessarily hard, but it’s just making sure we are committed to doing it,” Vele said. “Understanding there are the fun times that come with it but making sure we separate that from the work time. I feel like the teams who do that better usually come out with the W for the Rose Bowl.”


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Vele’s words mirrored Whittingham’s who also emphasized the importance of recognizing work time versus fun time.

“The key is for your players to understand when it’s time to work- focus in, lock in and get the work done and when it’s time to have a good time and do just that,” Whittingham said. “You have to separate the two and I think that’s a real key to performing well in the game.”

A Program Heading In The Right Direction

Utah football has come a long way from their WAC and MWC origins- something their alums who played in those eras a very proud of.

For those not paying attention, the emergence of the Utes may seem surprising, but those who have followed the program for a long time will tell you it was only a matter of time before Utah blew up. Hubert thinks Utah football is on to something very special, but it’s going to take continued hard work and consistency to reach new “blue blood” status.

“I think that title kind of comes with years of consistency,” Hubert said. “There is a lot we have to establish, but I think our program is heading in the right direction in that sense. We need to just keep coming to bowl games like this and win them.”

One sign that Utah has really started to make a name for themselves? The flock of media not from Salt Lake that swarmed coach Whittingham and quarterback Cam Rising. It’s becoming more “normal” to Rising, though there is still a small sense of amazement that people are becoming that interested.

“It’s fine, it is what it is,” Rising said with a laugh. “I’m used to it now so it’s fun. There were a lot of people yelling ‘hey, Cam!’ when we were going through the parade, so it was fun.”

Out Here Living His Best Disney Life

The player perhaps the most into their Disneyland experience was Kaufusi who is a big kid at heart and seems to find joy in just about anything. Media spotted him having a dance party with some of the Disney characters after the parade and naturally had to ask him about it.

“The whole gang, that was sweet,” Kaufusi said. “I’ve been a big, longtime fan of Disney. Haven’t really had too many Disney experiences out here at the park so this is- I’ve got some catching up to do I feel like.”

Despite the goofy candor, Kaufusi recognizes the honor it is to be back to the Rose Bowl and the need for Utah to put their final stamp on it.

“It’s huge, I think not just being at the Rose Bowl, but coming back-to-back,” Kaufusi said. “It says a lot about the program coach Whitt has here and the coaches, players and what it takes to really get to the Rose Bowl. It’s the highest level of post-season ball. Like coach Whitt said, don’t only act like champions, but back-to-back champions. Being able to do that and come to the Rose Bowl but looking for a better outcome than last year.”


Michelle Bodkin is the Utah Utes Insider for KSLsports.com and host of both the Crimson Corner Podcast (SUBSCRIBE) and The Saturday Show (Saturday from 10 a.m.–12 p.m.) on The KSL Sports Zone. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram: @BodkinKSLsports




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Utah Football ‘Excited To Be Here Again’