When Shawn Asiata hurt his knee in a Utah scrimmage, one of the first players to reach him was his brother, Matt, whose past injuries are well-documented and caused him to fear the worst when he saw his brother.
“It was scary, seeing your little brother go down like that,” Matt Asiata said.
Luckily for the Utes, Shawn’s injury isn’t serious and he’ll be on the field as expected in the 2010 season, plowing the way for his older brother.
Having both Asiata brothers on the field at the same time will be just like old times when the two were growing up in West Valley City. However, the chance to do it at Utah didn’t come about until Matt Asiata suffered a season-ending knee injury last year and was awarded an extra year of eligibility as a result.
Suffering the setback was a dark time for Matt Asiata, but now being on the field with his brother is a benefit that otherwise wouldn’t have happened.
“I’m loving it,” Matt Asiata said. “Not too many Division I players have brothers on the team and it has made it a great camp. It has been a blessing and has been fun to show him what I go through. We’ve always been close, growing up he was my right-hand man.”
Shawn, who at 6 feet, 253 pounds is bulkier than Matt (5-11, 230), walked on in the spring after transferring from Snow College.
He impressed the coaches enough in spring workouts for them to devise a specific package for him.
The Utes plan to go a little old school, at least in college football trends, and use Shawn as a more traditional fullback. It will be a similar situation to 2004, when Blake Burdette spent time as a tight end/fullback.
Whereas Burdette’s role was limited, Shawn’s is expected to be an integral part of Utah’s options this season.
Whittingham called tight ends a “rare commodity,” compared to the current trends in offensive formations, but the Utes saw enough potential in Shawn to create some opportunities for him.
“Shawn is a prototypical fullback and Matt is a big power tailback,” Whittingham said. “Shawn was a former linebacker in JC, and that is what you want: a guy who has that linebacker mentality.”
Shawn said he walked on at Utah after considering going to BYU.
He has no regrets about his decision, especially after his brother received another year of eligibility and after learning the plays the Utes had installed for him.
“I’ve got my own formation right now and I’m loving it,” he said. “I am trying my hardest to get on the field. Anything I do, I go all out.”
So far, co-offensive coordinator Aaron Roderick has liked how Shawn has adapted in practice.
“He is a good receiver, like an NFL fullback,” he said. “They don’t carry the ball a lot and do more blocking and catching out of the backfield, and Shawn is a very good blocker.”
The two brothers have always been close and their connection will show up on the field, Shawn said. He grew up blocking for his brother in various leagues and the two have fallen right back into their respective roles at Utah, he said.
“We have that passion and we know each other’s emotions,” Shawn said. “I’ve been blocking for him for a long time, and every day he pushes me.”