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October 1, 2011On Saturday afternoons while growing up in Utah, Cort Dennison used to sit next to his dad in Rice-Eccles Stadium, home of the University of Utah football team.
Dressed in red, Utah's team colors, Dennison cheered along with his dad for their favorite team, the Utes. On Saturday when Washington plays Utah in that same stadium, Dennison, UW's starting linebacker and a team captain, will be wearing purple and his dad will be pulling for the Huskies.
"I got rid of all my red clothes when I became a Husky," Dennison said. "Every time I see my dad, he's wearing purple, too."
Dennison's parents brought him to his first Utah football game when he was 1. He figured he's been to that stadium "hundreds of times" to watch college and high school games.
But Dennison, who grew up in Salt Lake City, said he won't be focusing on yesterday when he walks into Utah's stadium on Saturday as the two teams meet for the first time as Pacific-12 opponents.
"It's just another game and I have to go into it with that mindset," Dennison said. "I have to stay focused. I'm not going to get carried away with emotion."
Dennison's father still has season tickets for Utah football, but he usually gives those tickets away to go watch his son play for Washington. Dennison started at tight end and linebacker in high school and was a first-team all-state tight end.
It's the first time in 58 years that Washington has played Utah in Salt Lake City.
Dennison, who led the Huskies in tackles with 11 in Saturday's 31-23 win against California, hasn't been reminiscing about the old days of watching and playing football in Utah's stadium.
"He hasn't said anything about it," Huskies linebacker Garret Gilliland said. "He's definitely going to be pumped up to play in front of his family and friends."
Dennison, a fifth-year senior who is majoring in communications, has no regrets about coming to Washington.
"I'm so glad I came here to the University of Washington," Dennison said. "It's been the best five years of my life. I plan on staying up here after football is done. It's a great place to live."