University of Utah Players’ Brotherhood Reunites
By Chantel Buchi
Utah brotherhood, friendship and togetherness runs deep.
Ten University of Utah players reunite on the Salt Lake Stallions Training Camp field and playing together brings them familiarity. Familiar faces give these Utah players connection and comfortability on and off the field.
“It’s like coming back and playing with friends,” Stallions guard Jeremiah Poutasi said. “It makes football a lot more fun and easier. Us Utah players are family and we’re always going to be family for life.”
Poutasi played for Utah in 2012-2014 before he entered the 2015 NFL Draft where he was selected in the third round by the Tennessee Titans. Poutasi played with Stallions tight end Anthony Denham the last year of his 2011-2012 Ute career.
“It feels good knowing that that brotherhood that was developed in college never really stops,” Denham said. “To be back on the same page and to do it all over again, it’s like a second chance, a second time being great and challenging each other.”
Former New England Patriots linebacker Trevor Reilly played with Denham during Reilly’s 2010-2013 collegiate career. Although Reilly is not originally from Utah, Reilly moved to Utah County after the 2018 Super Bowl simply because he missed the state.
“It’s like a family reunion,” Reilly said. “I haven’t seen some of these guys in 5-7 years, but we’ve picked up where we left off.”
Reilly played alongside Stallions running back Matt Asiata who played for Utah in 2007-2010 where he went on to become an All-Conference pick before he went to the NFL. Asiata appreciates being with friends on their new team.
“It makes this experience a lot more fun and more laid back,” Asiata said. “We still know how to get things done on the field.”
Asiata lived in Minnesota for six years while he was on the Vikings NFL team but moved back to Utah to be close to his and his wife’s family. Their parents want to see their five grandchildren grow up.
Asiata not only appreciates time on and off the field with former Utes, but he is happy to be playing in front of the Utah fan base again.
“People from Utah will get to see us play again in our home state,” Asiata said. “Coming back and playing in front of our family, our friends and people we grew up with is pretty exciting.”
There is no question that Stallions defensive tackle Tenny Palepoi and former Ute during the 2012 and 2013 seasons is happy to back in the state of Utah where he grew up, as well.
“I’m excited to play back in my hometown and be with family,” Palepoi said.
Stallions defensive tackle Sealver Siliga, former 2008-2010 Ute, has been living in Seattle for the last three years. He is not only excited to be back where he’s originally from but to play in front of a great crowd.
“It will be fun to come back home and play in Utah especially since that’s where my roots are and where I grew up,” Siliga said. “Utah is the best fan set of any team.”
Not only is the state of Utah a phenomenal place to play, but it’s also a great place to live.
“My family and I are excited about going back to Utah,” Stallions wide receiver Kendal Thompson said. “We love Salt Lake City. It’s a great place for a family.”
Former Los Angeles Rams receiver, Thompson played for Utah as a quarterback in 2014. He was a Ute during the time Stallions head coach and recently selected member of the 2019 College Football Hall of Fame, Dennis Erickson, coached at Utah.
Erickson was co-offensive coordinator in 2013, assistant head coach in 2014-2016 and running back coach all four years. The former Utes are excited to be reunited with him.
“Erickson is one of my favorite coaches I have ever played for,” Stallions wide receiver Dres Anderson said. “He knows how to take care of his players.”
Before playing in the NFL for three years, Anderson played for the “U” from 2010 to 2014. His former teammate Asiata left one year before Erickson joined the coaching staff in Utah but wishes they hadn’t missed each other.
“I always tell Coach I want to be just like him when I grow up,” Asiata said. “I’m very blessed to be here to be a part of this team and to play under Erickson.”
Former 2015-2017 Ute and current Stallions offensive lineman Salesi Uhatafe admires how Erickson takes the time to get to know his players well.
“He’s good at relationships and earning trust from players,” Uhatafe said.
Stallions wide receiver Kaelin Clay said it’s “incredible and remarkable” to be on the same field with Erickson and his former Utes. Although he was only with Utah for the 2014 season, he made strong connections.
“I love the state of Utah. I treat it like it’s home,” Clay said. “They embrace me even though I only had one year with them. I’m incredibly grateful to be on this Utah team and I am looking forward to bringing championships here.”
Being on the Salt Lake Stallions team together in the state of Utah is just one thing these football players are looking forward to. Some players who weren’t born and raised in Utah are looking forward to the many things the state provides.
“Of course I’m excited to go eat at Park Café and just breakfast, in general, in Utah,” Denham said. “Oh, and eat some fry sauce.”
Anderson is also excited to be able to go to Park Café again and he is also looking forward to the beauty of Utah.
“I love the scenery,” Anderson said. “The sunsets, the mountains and the snow.”
Thompson is not only looking forward to the food, but he appreciates the beautiful resorts.
“I’m looking forward to eating at Rodizio’s,” Thompson said. “I also want to go snowmobiling in Park City.”
The familiarity of playing on the field, standing on the sidelines cheering and putting in long hours or practice are things the Salt Lake Stallions have in their favor.
Although these former University of Utah players haven’t played on the same field together in a few years, the brotherhood makes them feel as though nothing has changed.