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Utah football: Why playmaking sophomores were honored on Senior Night


Since Senior Night last Saturday at Rice-Eccles Stadium, a number of people have wondered why sophomore wide receiver Devaughn Vele decided to participate in the festivities. 

Vele does have a couple more years of eligibility.

But as of right now, he is leaning toward moving on after the season. 

“Yeah, that’s what it’s looking like. It’s more of an age issue than eligibility. I do have years left but I’m 24, about to turn 25, and the clock is against me,” said Vele, who served a two-year mission in Samoa before enrolling at Utah. “I know a lot of the fans are questioning, ‘Why is he leaving?’ But it’s just a matter of the future.

“If I want to play at the next level, now is the best time. I obviously wish I had better stats, but with the clock against me, I just feel like this is the most opportune time for me to move on.”

Vele has caught 44 passes for 546 yards and five touchdowns this season. 

He enjoyed being honored before the 42-7 win over Stanford.

“It was really good. The environment was good, being with my teammates and especially getting the win,” Vele said. “It was overall a great experience. I’m grateful for my fans and teammates and I’m grateful for everything I’ve gone through to have made me the person I am today.”

Cornerback Clark Phillips III, a sophomore who is projected to be a first-round NFL draft pick next spring, was asked if he had played his last game at Rice-Eccles. 

“I’m almost certain that would have been that,” he said. “We’ve got two more games guaranteed and hopefully we’re in a big one. That’s all I’m focused on.”

Sophomore running back Micah Bernard also heard his name called on Senior Night. 

Bernard might have played his final home game as a Ute.

“Everything is still open. Nothing is set in stone,” he said. “The plan right now is, that was the last one.”

For Bernard it was a special night. In addition to being honored, he scored on a 19-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Cam Rising in the third quarter. 

“It was a good experience. I got to see my family there. It’s the first game that they were able to come out to this year,” Bernard said. “I’m glad I was able to get a touchdown while they were here. Getting them out here and and seeing my last game at Rice-Eccles Stadium was a good feeling.”

Junior left tackle Braeden Daniels was recognized Saturday. He also may have played at Rice-Eccles for the last time. 

“It was a great feeling, seeing the past seniors and a bunch of alumni,” he said. “It’s always great seeing the support and love for us.”


Utes on the air

No. 13 Utah (8-2, 6-1)

at No. 6 Oregon (8-2, 6-1)

Saturday, 8:30 p.m. MST

Autzen Stadium

TV: ESPN

Radio: ESPN 700





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