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Utah football: Tim Patrick personifies rising confidence for Utes receivers

August 19, 2016 GMT

Receivers coach Guy Holliday recently called senior Tim Patrick “the complete package” at wideout.

Apparently, that package includes some big talk. When asked about what stood out about the receiving group this fall, Patrick said, “our dominance.”

If “dominance” seems like a strong word for Utah’s passing attack, you’re probably looking back at the record book. The Utes haven’t finished better than 9th in Pac-12 passing since joining the league, and have only one 1,000-yard receiver in that time (Dres Anderson in 2013).

But Patrick isn’t about to let a little thing like history cramp his vision of what Utah’s receivers could be this year.

“It’s all about confidence being a receiver,” he said. “You can have all of the tools but you need confidence.”

Sure, the fans say, but what about catches?

Utah’s receiving corps entered camp as perhaps the biggest question mark position outside of quarterback — a mix of unproven (and some oft-injured) veterans with a few new faces in the mix. With new coach Holliday, much is expected to change, and many of those expectations fall squarely on Patrick, who has been talked up as the top receiver in the group.

“He’s got length, but for as long as he is, he’s very quick-twitch,” defensive coordinator Morgan Scalley said. “After that, his strength — he’s able to push smaller corners off the ball. He’s able to go over the top of your shorter corners. He just presents a lot of issues because of how big and explosive he is.”

On one hand, Patrick seems an unlikely leader. He missed the latter half of 2014 after breaking his leg against Oregon, and missed all of last year in recovery from the injury. Entering the third year of his Utah career, he has a grand total of 16 career receptions for 177 yards.

And yet, of all the returners at the position, he only trails sophomore Tyrone Smith (18 catches) in production. He’s spent the last year-and-a-half working on his strength (he’s gained 20 pounds since 2014), waiting for his moment to arrive again.

“I could dominate the Pac-12,” he said. “When I first got here, everything was so fast, I was just trying not to do stuff wrong. That Oregon game was when I started to get a handle on the speed.”

Then? Snap.

Patrick’s injury made him more appreciative of his opportunities for football. Sophomore receiver Raelon Singleton, one of Patrick’s roommates, said he sees Patrick’s determination daily.

“He works every day,” Singleton said. “He does extra work, everything. He makes us better, because he helps us compete, and he’s the oldest of the group.”

Now 22, Patrick is more aware of his senior status in the program. By the time his career is up, he wants to leave an impression.

He knows that fans and critics alike have skepticism about Utah’s passing game. But if things go the way he believes they’ll go, it won’t matter.

“I know people might say we’ve said it before,” he said, “but I’m telling you, we’re going to be something special this year.”

kgoon@sltrib.com

Twitter: @kylegoon