Jaxson Dart, the Fisherman, Takes On UCLA

USC QB Jaxson Dart’s love of fishing pays off via patience

The freshman QB, making his first career start against UCLA on Saturday, has learned the wait can be worth it

Adam Grosbard (OC Register)  —  Jaxson Dart’s after-school ritual started in third grade. He would get home, grab his gear and let his parents know his destination before he rode his bike over to one of the local ponds in Kaysville, Utah. There, he would sit and fish until the sun went down, long after his curfew.

“All the way until the point that we would have to drive out and get him because he would never come home on time,” his father Brandon recalled with a chuckle, still exasperated and still amused years later.

Long before he was a quarterback at USC, Jaxson Dart spent every free moment out fishing. It was a way to decompress from day-to-day life, an opportunity to sit in nature for hours on end, an outlet for his competitiveness, even if he was only competing against himself and the fish that day.

But it also taught Dart an important life skill: patience. With fishing, less is more. So he can’t do too much with his lures or risk scaring the fish away. He could only sit and wait.

“Patience is always something that like hasn’t been my best trait, or my best quality. I get stressed out sometimes. But fishing has definitely helped me with patience and just learning that skill,” Dart says. “I always wanted it to be results immediately coming back, especially after I worked hard for something and I didn’t get the immediate results that I wanted. Sometimes like just having to wait for those to come through or come to fruition were like tough.

Dart doesn’t have to wait any longer at USC. The highly touted true freshman will make his first start for the Trojans on Saturday against UCLA, the first USC quarterback to make his first start in the rivalry game in 41 years.

It comes at the perfect moment for Dart, with his confidence in his knowledge of the offense peaking as his body gets back to full health after a midseason injury.

“I’m excited and I’m ready,” Dart says. “I’m feeling really good and I feel the best I have since my injury.”

An early obsession

The first time Dart went fishing, he was 3. He and his dad found a quiet spot on a small lake in Southern Utah and threw some lures into the water. And on that first trip, Dart made his first catch.

“He’s just jacked. If you know Jaxson, he’s a super emotional kid that is just fully in tuned to everything that’s going on,” Brandon recalled. “And I was just like, ‘Holy cow, he friggin’ loves this stuff.’”

This wasn’t too out of the ordinary within the family. Brandon is an avid hunter, and most of Dart’s extended family spend time outdoors in some shape or fashion.

But fishing soon became an obsession for Dart. When his grandparents bought him his first fly set, he could be found on most nights watching YouTube videos on repeat learning how to tie different patterns.

“I would sit at the table for hours just trying to tie a fly,” Dart said before laughing at his younger self. “They were never good, but I would always try super hard to get it right.”

Becoming a fisherman became one of his earliest dream jobs, cycling through bass, fly and deep-sea. Most birthdays, he’d ask for new gear or a fishing trip as his present. He saved up his allowance and then go to Cabela’s or Bass Pro Shop to buy new lures or bait.

“The stench of his baits and everything in the garage, it was just like, ‘What the hell?’” Brandon said through a laugh. “You would just smell something in his fishing bag, you would just see anchovies.”

It was the same whenever the family went on vacations. His parents and younger brother, Diesel, could be sitting on the shore of Lake Powell, relaxing. But Dart would get into a dingy with a little motor and fish all afternoon along the edge of the water. Sometimes the motor would die and Dart would have to row the boat back in.

An 11-year-old Jaxson Dart, center, holds up the day’s catch with his father, Brandon, and younger brother, Diesel. (Photo courtesy of the Dart family)

Or if the family went on a ski trip, Dart would elect to go ice fishing instead. No one would understand why he wanted to sit out in the cold for hours, but then he would return with a lake trout.

“He felt like he won the day,” Brandon said.

Dart explained it like this: “There was just something about fishing that was a little bit almost addicting for me. There’s a certain kind of rush when you hook into something on your line and you don’t know exactly what it may be, or maybe you do you know exactly what it may be and like the story I was telling earlier, it’s something that you were working for for a really long time. And it’s something that’s never guaranteed, so you’re always having to strive and you’re having to chase after something.”

A fishing tale

With that many fishing trips, stories start to stack up. Dart and his father picked the same memory when asked separately for their favorite.

It was the start of the summer before Dart’s senior year. He would go on to lead his new school, Corner Canyon High, to a Utah state title with 67 passing touchdowns and another dozen scores with his feet, a performance that would earn him the Gatorade National Player of the Year award.

But this was months before all that, in the early months of the pandemic, and there was no certainty he would even play a season in the fall. All he held was an offer from Louisiana with no certainty that he would get to showcase his skills again to earn more attention from colleges.

He went on a trip up to Fish Lake with his dad and a family friend. The anticipated summer weather played hooky, and instead they were greeted with a snowstorm and 20 mph winds. But Dart insisted on fishing through it, and theirs was the only boat on the entire lake.

As the day progressed and the storm worsened, Brandon got a text from a BYU assistant coach who wanted Dart to call him. Though he wanted to keep fishing until dark, Dart was eventually convinced to return to dock and make the call.

And that’s when BYU offered him.

“He was like totally jacked, right?” Brandon recounted. “He just had the one offer from Louisiana before, but this was a school that’s from his home state so he’s just so jacked about it.”

Rather than turning in for the day, Dart’s preferred celebration was to go back out on the lake and continue fishing for the remaining daylight hours. Still, no bites.

The next morning, Dart told his dad, “I think our luck’s changed.”

But it was much the same, even with better weather. There were more boats on the lake that day, but it didn’t seem like anyone was faring any better. So they decided to troll back to the dock and call it a day.

“An hour into it, friggin’ Jaxson, just like boom, he gets a lake trout,” Brandon said. “He’s like getting it in and he’s jacked out of his mind.”

Jaxson Dart shows off his big haul at Fish Lake before his senior year at Corner Canyon High in Draper, Utah. (Photo courtesy of the Dart family)

It was Dart’s first lake trout, and the only one caught on the lake that day. The next four days after returning home, the double-whammy of the scholarship offer and the fishing victory were all Dart could talk about.

“His recruiting was really stagnant. So to be able to get an offer that it was like, at least we knew he was going to have an opportunity to play at a school that he would want to play at,” Brandon said. “To top it off with a lake trout, he was like, ‘This is one of the best days of my life.’”

The here and now

Fishing has also been a way for Dart to bond with friends. It was how he got to know several teammates at Corner Canyon after transferring prior to his senior year.

“He’s got such a fun personality. He’s really easy to get to know and pretty endearing to people from a social aspect,” Corner Canyon head coach Eric Kjar said. “We miss him just personality-wise around here. He’s just so fun with his teammates.”

Dart hasn’t gone fishing since moving to Los Angeles in January. Though he insisted on driving his F-150 to school in case an opportunity arose – even turning down an offer from his parents to buy a more practical car for the rigors of local traffic – it’s been mostly business since arriving at USC.

But that hasn’t stopped Dart from bonding with his teammates as they prepare for this rivalry weekend against UCLA.

“He can get along with anybody. When you can do that as a quarterback, that young, he’s confident in everything he do,” Trojans running back Keaontay Ingram said. “He takes pride in it. I feel like the offense is feeding off of that, and shoot, we’re ready to go for this weekend.”

The past two games, Dart split time with three-year starter Kedon Slovis. But Slovis’ lower leg injury suffered against Arizona State has made Dart the starter this week, and potentially the rest of the season.

The starting job was always the goal when Dart arrived at USC. It may have come a little sooner than even he expected, but it’s the moment for which he has worked and waited.

The patience, much like with fishing, has paid off.

“I think I’ve always been super goal-oriented. So I really strive to get what I want, and coming up short, coming up empty-handed is almost just not an option for me,” Dart said. “So I always kind of think of it like that. I would go to the extent so I could hopefully catch something or make the goal that I was working for.”

ocregister.com

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Chris
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Chris(@chris)
November 19, 2021 7:25 pm

Turned down tickets to the WSU vs Arizona game tonight, it’s 34 and raining, glad to just watch on TV.

PN4SC
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PN4SC(@pn4sc)
November 19, 2021 6:00 pm

So many sentiments on the board I am in complete agreement with: 1) Justice was served, Rittenhouse not guilty. The DA in Kenosha should be disbarred. Hope Kyle sues Biden and members of the media(CNN/MSNBC) for slander. 2) Merrick Garland is a dirtbag. Thank God Cocaine Mitch kept him off the Supreme Court. 3) Glad Dart is starting, but I don’t see how SC wins, unless fucla gives it away. 4) No way 5-7 with a win over the powder blues is a successful season. This is further evidence of how badly Helton destroyed a winning culture at SC 5)… Read more »

Golden Trojan
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Golden Trojan(@golden-trojan)
November 19, 2021 6:16 pm
Reply to  PN4SC

5 amens brother, especially number 5! Beat the Ruins!

TrojanRJJ
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TrojanRJJ(@trojanrjj)
November 19, 2021 11:23 am
Reply to  Allen Wallace

Right now, Rittenhouse has some powerful libel and slander actions against most major players in our culture. The WH had best ask the country to accept the verdict and for calm. But, this WH and DOJ may choose to go after Rittenhouse for civil rights violations, as the feds did in the Rodney King case. It would be a huge mistake, but I think this is the most ideological DOJ and WH I have seen in my lifetime. So, who knows what they will do.

Golden Trojan
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Golden Trojan(@golden-trojan)
November 19, 2021 12:03 pm
Reply to  Allen Wallace

And he might have been on the Supreme Court. What do the lawyers here think of that possibility?

TrojanRJJ
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TrojanRJJ(@trojanrjj)
November 19, 2021 1:45 pm
Reply to  Golden Trojan

From what I have seen, he would have been a disaster on the par with Sotomayor. His behavior as I have seen it on TV and as reported is very troubling. Clearly not a man of integrity. Certainly not someone I would trust.

alfa1
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alfa1(@alfa1)
November 19, 2021 12:18 pm
Reply to  TrojanRJJ

Civil rights actions can only be filed against a governing authority, i.e police, sheriff, etc. Rittenhouse is not a Section 1983 defendant. It was a state case against state citizens.
He was found Not Guilty on all counts….full acquittal with prejudice. Next case !

alfa1
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alfa1(@alfa1)
November 19, 2021 12:36 pm
Reply to  alfa1

Young Kyle can move on with his life.With Prejudice – Applied to orders of judgment dismissing a case, meaning that the plaintiff is forever barred from bringing a lawsuit on the same claim or cause. Section (1983)Elements Of A Section 1983 ClaimTo prevail in a claim under section 1983, the plaintiff must prove two critical points: a person subjected the plaintiff to conduct that occurred under color of state law, and this conduct deprived the plaintiff of rights, privileges, or immunities guaranteed under federal law or the U.S. Constitution. A state is not a “person” under section 1983, but a city… Read more »

TrojanRJJ
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TrojanRJJ(@trojanrjj)
November 19, 2021 1:42 pm
Reply to  alfa1

Alfa, Thanks. I stand corrected. I forgot that in the King case, the defendants were state actors. Young Kyle was not. Garland cannot expand the definition of “state actor” to include the “police function” (claiming Kyle was acting like a policeman and hence is a state actor) for it would open the door to 1983 actions against the rioters, looters, and arsonists.

alfa1
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alfa1(@alfa1)
November 19, 2021 3:03 pm
Reply to  TrojanRJJ

Garland would like a bigger fool if he were to attempt to assign state authority to Rittenhouse’ activities, even if Rittenhouse were paid security. State authority would have to bestowed officially. Rittenhouse was simply acting on his own. Rioters, Looters, arsonist would never be under Section 1983, however they were guilty of multiple violations of Law, some criminal. One pivotal instance in his case, Rittenhouse at the scene Yes, however, he was the victim of the attack, not the attacker. Classic case of self defense. Section 1983 well known instances, Rodney King vs LAPD George Floyd vs Minneapolis PD officer… Read more »

Golden Trojan
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Golden Trojan(@golden-trojan)
November 19, 2021 4:44 pm
Reply to  alfa1

How about libel/slander by media, like what happened to the high school kid in DC with the Native American in his face?

alfa1
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alfa1(@alfa1)
November 19, 2021 4:53 pm
Reply to  Golden Trojan

As most of you well know, any person may bring an action against another party for even the most trivial reason.
I’m sure Rittenhouse’ defense counsel is more aware of potentially effective actions going forward and will advise Mr. Rittenhouse appropriately.

Golden Trojan
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Golden Trojan(@golden-trojan)
November 19, 2021 6:13 pm
Reply to  alfa1

Wow, nice, that was great lawyer speak. And I mean that respectfully.

RialtoTrojan
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RialtoTrojan(@rialtotrojan)
November 19, 2021 10:59 am

At this point it might easier to hope that the home crowd is larger at the coliseum than those that have been at the Rose Bowl. However I am still looking for a win Saturday. I want to watch that replay. (I have deleted all of the games this season)

Golden Trojan
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Golden Trojan(@golden-trojan)
November 19, 2021 10:31 am

I was thinking about the post by Jamaica and wondered about the numbers. So I will throw these out for consumption. Carol Folt makes a base salary of $1 million a year. Looks to be about the same as the pres. of University of Alabama. She overseas annual revenue of $5.7 Billion and net assets of $9.4 Billion. USC is as much a Healthcare Institution as an Academic Entity (Education+Research). 2017-2018 numbers: Alabama ‘Tide Football – Revenue $111 Million, Profit $48 Million USC Trojan Football – Revenue $60 Million, Profit $27 Million How would you feel about your salary if… Read more »

TrojanRJJ
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TrojanRJJ(@trojanrjj)
November 19, 2021 11:19 am
Reply to  Golden Trojan

Golden, Those are 2018 numbers. SC had just won the Pac and Folt was just commencing her assault on SC football. My guess is the projections were for a drop of at least $30,000,000 in football plus double that in donations with the mess they presently have. Otherwise, Folt would have never signed off on Clay getting canned after the 2nd game. The actual numbers must have been brutal to see Clay canned so quickly in 2021. I think UCLA athletics lost $30,000,000 a year over the last two reported years. If Folt lost the football revenue, she was looking… Read more »

Golden Trojan
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Golden Trojan(@golden-trojan)
November 19, 2021 11:58 am
Reply to  TrojanRJJ

The numbers were the most recent I could find. I would suggest they are helpful in where college sports will at least get back to after a once in a lifetime event of the last 2 years. The main point was; what is the relationship between Power 5 presidents who have way more responsibility and the football coach who has less responsibility but gets paid 5-10x more but also generates 4-5x his salary in revenue? Just interesting to me the cost/benefit and supply/demand of the two jobs. Wonder if there are faculty that have multi million dollar incomes due to… Read more »

TrojanRJJ
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TrojanRJJ(@trojanrjj)
November 19, 2021 1:39 pm
Reply to  Golden Trojan

There are. The problem is that so much money is generated by successful football programs, and the coaches who can produce those results are very few. Tucker had huge leverage, due to his performance and his skin color. If MSU did not pay him the money, he would have gotten it from LSU. As I understand him, he would be embarassed by his race mattering, but in fact it does. Franklin lost a fortune by his team losing 4 games this year. If Penn State was 9-1 and ranked in the top 5, he would be in the same boat… Read more »

Jamaica
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Jamaica(@jamaica)
November 19, 2021 5:54 pm
Reply to  TrojanRJJ

I can’t debate the numbers with you & GT but the scenario you both are pinpointing is what I was asking in “will USC stay with the big boys of CFB” in hiring the next HC? They can no longer go lowball with an unknown or hire a learning on the job HC. Today’s better recruits just won’t buy into it. They have allowed USC football to slip so far behind, it will take a major rebuilding effort to put Trojan football back as a flagship program is this is what Rick Caruso is alluding to. Business wise the administration… Read more »

thekatman
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thekatman(@thekatman)
November 20, 2021 9:31 am
Reply to  Jamaica

My prediction : USC does not land a top 20 coach. They may go street FL head coach Dan Mullen but he’s just another has-been coach

TrojanRJJ
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TrojanRJJ(@trojanrjj)
November 19, 2021 10:28 am

Rittehhouse was just acquitted on all counts. Based on the evidence I saw, the verdict is more than justified. I reiterate my thought that the DA should be disciplined by the WI Bar for his conduct in this case. My guess is we will see the media pain this as a “white racist” verdict. Of course, nothing is further from the truth. For the left, the truth does not matter. All that matters is the agenda. Any result that forwards the agenda (no matter how false) is true and any truth which contradicts the agenda is false.

Golden Trojan
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Golden Trojan(@golden-trojan)
November 19, 2021 10:34 am
Reply to  TrojanRJJ

I just hope and pray the jury is kept safe. Not sure how a white teen shooting 3 crazed white guys during a riot is racist especially when there was a black guy on the jury.

RialtoTrojan
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RialtoTrojan(@rialtotrojan)
November 19, 2021 10:54 am
Reply to  TrojanRJJ

When asked what he would like to be professionally he answered. “I’d take a shot at being a police officer.”
Too soon?

HOF19
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HOF19(@hof19)
November 19, 2021 10:10 am

What is the number 1 sports involved thought going through my mind today ? (All day all night )………. Beat UCLA ………Fight On!!!!!!

Last edited 12 days ago by HOF19
Chris
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Chris(@chris)
November 19, 2021 9:00 am
Reply to  Allen Wallace

September 21st made this a successful year.

Jamaica
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Jamaica(@jamaica)
November 18, 2021 6:12 pm

If MSU’s reported $95 million contract to Mel Tucker is the new benchmark, what will. Carol Folt sign off on knowing she doesn’t make anywhere near that money. Her worst fear could come about knowing she isn’t the top dog on campus. Maybe she & Caruso will butt heads over this matter.

UtahTrojan
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UtahTrojan(@utahtrojan)
November 18, 2021 6:14 pm
Reply to  Jamaica

Hmmm. Carol Folt, Caruso and butt heads all in the same sentence works for me.

alfa1
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alfa1(@alfa1)
November 18, 2021 7:24 pm
Reply to  Jamaica

Let’s hope so….we all know who has the Juice

Chris
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Chris(@chris)
November 18, 2021 6:09 pm

raise your hand if you think Mel Tucker should be the 2nd highest paid coach in America.

Chris
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Chris(@chris)
November 18, 2021 6:22 pm
Reply to  Allen Wallace

They had to pay him now or he was gone. But it would be good to wait another year or two to find out if this is just a magical season or if he is the real deal. The times we are in demand immediate action. He won’t be the last to get a big dollar extension.

UtahTrojan
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UtahTrojan(@utahtrojan)
November 18, 2021 6:09 pm

After rumors swirled on Tik Tok that wide receiver Mycah Pittman was leaving the program, head coach Mario Cristobal confirmed those rumors on Wednesday afternoon. The head coach announced that Pittman was leaving the team and is planning on transferring out.

Chris
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Chris(@chris)
November 18, 2021 6:10 pm
Reply to  UtahTrojan

Maybe he can come help us out.

UtahTrojan
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UtahTrojan(@utahtrojan)
November 18, 2021 6:13 pm
Reply to  Chris

Hopefully he comes to USC and not the baby blues.

Chris
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Chris(@chris)
November 18, 2021 6:14 pm
Reply to  UtahTrojan

Like just about everything else it seems like it will hinge on next coach.

Steveg
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Steveg(@steveg)
November 18, 2021 5:29 pm

I never met a fisherman I didn’t like. Of course we are all big liars anyway. Great article, it makes you like the kid because he is still a kid and enjoying it. Perhaps that attitude he brings can bring a fresher scent to the stinking offense.

Steveg
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Steveg(@steveg)
November 18, 2021 6:45 pm
Reply to  Allen Wallace

Funny guy!!

Trojan5
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Trojan5(@trojan5)
November 18, 2021 6:47 pm
Reply to  Allen Wallace

Damm! You look away for a just a little while and all hell breaks loose.

Golden Trojan
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Golden Trojan(@golden-trojan)
November 19, 2021 3:39 am
Reply to  Allen Wallace

I will miss the guy, he had some good takes. I will trust your and John’s decision. I assume he went off the rails on posts we thankfully will not see. I like the civility of this site. Hope I don’t get out of bounds. It would be nice of more of social media was monitored better.

HOF19
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HOF19(@hof19)
November 18, 2021 4:06 pm

Forget coach situations ……….Our record ……Their record ……..Not even thinking about our improbable bowl situation…..Or who is healthy and who ain’t ………….BEAT UCLA !!!!!!!……… FIGHT ON !!!!!

UtahTrojan
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UtahTrojan(@utahtrojan)
November 18, 2021 3:11 pm

My takeaway from this very fishy story is that they named their other son Diesel?

Golden Trojan
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Golden Trojan(@golden-trojan)
November 18, 2021 4:36 pm
Reply to  Allen Wallace

His carbon footprint will be too much for Calunicornia! Unless he’s incredibly electric!🌞

Chris
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Chris(@chris)
November 18, 2021 6:13 pm
Reply to  Golden Trojan

Funny

UtahTrojan
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UtahTrojan(@utahtrojan)
November 18, 2021 6:05 pm
Reply to  Allen Wallace

It would be better if he was a power runner.

volunteerTrojan
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volunteerTrojan(@volunteertrojan)
November 18, 2021 8:07 pm
Reply to  UtahTrojan

Yeah, I’m thinking fullback.