December 22, 2009
SAN DIEGO - Utah fans received a surprise announcement at the pre-game pep rally Tuesday night in the San Diego Hilton ballroom. Injured running back Matt Asiata took the microphone to address the crowd as a team captain, and announced his intentions to return to the football team in 2010. The senior back will apply for a medical hardship year from the NCAA due to having a second season cut short because of injury. In 2008, Asiata's only healthy season, he led the Utes with 707 yards and 12 touchdowns. As a senior in 2009, Asiata was off to a strong start before suffering a season ending knee injury against Louisville.
Coming back was not an easy decision, as Asiata has a wife and several young children to take care of. Should his application be granted, Asiata will be sharing the backfield duties as others have stepped up in his place. UteZone caught up with Asiata to get his thoughts on those backs, how he will fit in, how his family fit in and why he decided to come back.
UteZone: So, you announced you are coming back. You still have to put in the papers and everything?
Matt Asiata: "Yeah, just trying to get it a done deal, after this game, and try and get back to the BCS next year."
UZ: Why did you decide to come back?
MA: "I think it's best for me and my family. I have to finish school, so if football isn't there I will always have my schooling to back me up. I've got to graduate first and take care of football after, that's the main reason why I'm coming back."
UZ: When will you graduate and what do you want to do if football is not an option?
MA: "I graduate in May, next spring. I'm trying to get into an FBI agent sort of thing, go into that field. I just want to be successful if football doesn't work."
UZ: What can you bring to the team next year, especially coming off the knee injury?
MA: "The same thing I brought in the past; hard-nosed, physical football. We'll try and get that Wildcat going in the redzone and everything, whatever I can do to help the offense out."
UZ: What will it be like to fight for carries with Eddie Wide and Sausan Shakerin?
MA: "I don't think it is going to be a fight, I think it will be just being teammates, being brothers on the same team, take care of each other, and have each others back. When I need a breather, Eddie is going to be there or Shak is going to be there. Or if I have to be there for Eddie, I will be there. Something like that."
UZ: Eddie and Shak have mentioned how much you have helped them come along and develop. How proud were you to see them step up the way they have this year?
MA: "I'm very proud. Eddie took a heavy load after I went down, and he got 1,000 yards. That explains everything. Reaching the thousand yard mark, that is every running backs' dream, to get 1,000 yards every season."
UZ: How will the team overcome some of the defensive losses for 2010?
MA: "We've just got to keep our heads up. We're going to lose some tough seniors; the linebacker crew, Robert Johnson, Joe Dale, Koa Misi, we're going to have some big losses. But we have some other guys playing a lot of snaps like they have this season and I think they will be a big part."
UZ: So, taking a positive spin, when the papers come back approved for your extra year, when will you start practicing?
MA: "Hopefully in the spring. I hope the papers will be done right after the bowl game so I can get started and help the team."
UZ: What is the ceiling for Matt Asiata, what is the ceiling for the Utes in 2010?
MA: (laughs) "I think we just have to wait and see what's going on. I can't tell the future. We've just got to wait and see."
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