In what is becoming an annual occurrence since Utah joined the Pac-12 in 2011, predictors are proceeding with caution in tabbing the Utes as a legitimate threat in the conference, with most hinting at potential success but bracing fans for a potentially long season as they battle the likes of Oregon, Arizona State, USC, Arizona and UCLA, not to mention non-conference foes Utah State and Michigan. But the constant underdog distinction appears to fit both the Utes and junior defensive end Hunter Dimick, whose humble nature but hungry attitude make him a key piece to their drive toward the top of the Pac-12.
Quite simply, Utah defensive end Hunter Dimick could not be a more accurate reflection of the Utes’ football program.
The 6-3, 270-pounder is a native of nearby Syracuse, a modest town of 25,000 about 25 miles north of Salt Lake City. He arrived at Utah, the only place he wished to play college ball, in 2012, taking a redshirt during his first season before becoming a key player in 2013, starting four games and recording 30 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss and two sacks.
In 2014, he missed two games but still racked up 10 more sacks in helping the Utes lead the nation in total sacks. Dimick only grabbed Pac-12 Honorable Mention for his efforts and enters 2015 as one of the most underrated defensive lineman in the nation on a team looking to prove their nine-win 2014 season was not an anomaly. The two-time All-Pac-12 Academic honoree was largely overshadowed by All-American teammate Nate Orchard, who led the nation in sacks per game before being selected by the Cleveland Browns in the second round of this year’s NFL Draft.
“It wasn’t like without Nate he would have been a no-factor,” Whittingham told ESPN in April when asked if Orchard’s presence helped give Dimick more advantageous opportunities. “This is Hunter’s year to be even more than a factor than he was last year.
We chatted with Hunter Dimick during fall camp and discussed a handful of both on and off-the-field things as the Utes prepare for the 2015 season:
What’s it like playing just down the road from where you grew up?
It’s awesome. Growing up, Utah was always the place I wanted to be. Never really watched anyone else in football and didn’t want to. Growing up, that was always the end goal, but to tell you the truth, I wasn’t planning on making it but kept working hard and thankfully the opportunity made itself present.
Both of your parents are Utah State alums. Has it been interesting for them to see their son play at an in-state rival school?
They haven’t said too much about it but I’m sure they had a smirk when Utah State beat us a few years ago. They’ve always been very supportive of my choices and are very happy for me.
What NFL defensive lineman do you enjoy watching the most or do you try to emulate your game after the most?
I’ve always enjoyed watching Paul Kruger. He played for the University of Utah and is having a great deal of success in the NFL. Just watching how relentless he is as a pass rusher and his pursuit of the ball. I wouldn’t say I try to model my game after him but I try to match his mentality of just flying everywhere.
Who is the one teammate you’d pick to be with on a deserted island?
Jared Norris (Senior – Linebacker). I figure if we’re going to die, it might as well be fun with him. Jared and I have been good friends for a long while and even in the worst situations, we usually come out laughing.
Favorite home cooked meal?
My mother makes a chicken noodle soup with egg noodles. Fan-tas-tic.
Favorite opposing stadium?
The Rose Bowl. Playing there at night (vs. UCLA in 2014 ) was pretty cool.
You have one month away from school and football. Where are you going and what are you doing?
Definitely hunting and fishing up in the mountains. Just shooting guns up there.
Coach Whittingham recently said that no part of your game is lacking and you only continue to improve. What’s it like playing for this staff and routinely receiving votes of confidence in the media like that?
It’s awesome. They’re the ones telling us what to do, helping us improve so to hear from that we’re improving, it helps us. It’s a synergistic combo when they support us and we all just work together.
Who is someone on the team that never get enough attention and credit?
Justin Thomas (Junior – Cornerback). He does an extremely good job of what he does and keeps quiet about it.