Kylie Fitts tugs at his shoulder pads with one in every of his huge palms. In the opposite, he dangles his purple Utah helmet. It’s probably the most ultimate practices of the yr, and for contributors of Utah’s 2017 senior elegance, probably the most remaining ever on campus. Fitts has his No. 11 jersey on. His gloves, too.
He sooner or later fields a query he’s no longer handiest heard again and again over the past month, but person who has sadly has resonated for the remaining two years of the defensive finish’s collegiate occupation.
Does Fitts — the 6-foot-Four, 260-pound prototype pass-rusher whose ultimate two years with the Utes has been hamstrung via accidents — assume he’ll be ready to go well with up one remaining time?
HEART OF DALLAS BOWL
Utah vs. West Virginia
When • Tuesday, 11:30 a.m. MST
TV • ESPN
“Yeah, I’m feeling really good,” he mentioned as he adjusts his pads yet again. “I’m making good progress, so I think I should be good.”
Dropping down onto the road, expecting a snap rely and raring to let free in opposition to West Virginia in the 2017 Heart of Dallas Bowl on December 26 would imply the whole thing to Fitts. And that’s a sarcasm, he mentioned. The senior defensive finish from San Bernadino, Calif., neglected 4 video games in 2017 due to quite a lot of accidents after struggling a season-ending foot harm after simply two begins in 2016.
“It’s definitely been hard on me,” he mentioned.
Fitts, when wholesome, proved to be the following in an extended line of dominant edge cross rushers on a Utah defensive position synonymous with charging to the quarterback. His mix of measurement and velocity adopted in the mould of earlier famous person sack artists like Hunter Dimick, Nate Orchard and Trevor Reilly. It’s no twist of fate that as Fitts struggled with accidents, Utah’s sack numbers plummeted in 2017.
After wrestling a quarterback to the bottom seven instances in his first yr at Utah in 2015, Fitts completed his injury-riddled junior and senior years with a mixed Four.five sacks.
“It’s more frustrating than anything else and more frustrating for the player, obviously, if you have guys that come through and just seem to have a hard time staying healthy,” Utah trainer Kyle Whittingham mentioned. “It’s been unfortunate for Kylie where he’s been banged up a lot of his career here, but we’re grateful for every snap that he’s been able to play for us, because like I said, he’s really good.”
It was once difficult strolling out of the tunnel on Senior Night in boulevard garments surrounded via family members.
It was once insufferable lacking the remaining two video games of the steady season.
When he went down awkwardly in the loss to Washington State on November 11, he concept it was once over.
The weeks because the season ended have equipped time for Fitts to mend. The timing of the Heart of Dallas bowl sport gave the Utah training group of workers and Fitts hope that he’d be ready to recuperate in time. So when Utah sprinted via Colorado in the regular-season finale to turn out to be bowl-eligible, Fitts discovered he, most probably, had another sport.
“Getting another chance to go out with my teammates, getting a chance to go out with another chance with the guys on the D-line one more time, that’s going to be a big blessing,” he mentioned. “I’m looking forward to that.”
Arriving in Utah in 2014 — Fitts transferred from UCLA and redshirted a yr — allowed him the recent point of view he sought out. The program, he defined, took him in, and gave him some other shot to turn out himself. While a portion of his legacy at Utah will likely be that of dangerous success placing again and again, one remaining sport may just permit him a shot to turn out to NFL scouts what he can do when wholesome.
“Obviously it’s awesome we get him back,” senior defensive take on Filipo Mokofisi mentioned. “He’s had a long, hard career with multiple injuries hurting him and his ability to play, but I’m happy we get to end it off with a game, and hopefully, a win.”
On November 20, Fitts approved an invitation to the 2018 Senior Bowl, scheduled to be performed on January 27 in Mobile, Ala.
“It was an easy decision,” he mentioned. “It’s the biggest college bowl game there is. It’s just another chance for me to go out, play and show my abilities. I didn’t really get that many games to show my abilities this year, so it’d be a big opportunity for me.”
After one in every of his ultimate practices, Fitts seemed out at his teammates engaging in quite a lot of media interviews. Then he’s requested about his occupation, if it went the rest in accordance to script and what he’ll consider maximum about his time at the line.
“It went by fast,” he mentioned. “Not the way I wanted it to go, with so many injuries and ups and downs, but I had fun.”