It’s been a long road for Thomas Yassmin but a worthwhile one at Utah

(Photo: Hunter Van Dyke, Utah Athletics)

 

It’s been quite the journey to the Rose Bowl game for Utah, it’s been an even more remarkable one for Aussie born tight end Thomas Yassmin. Somehow, some way, Utah found Yassmin on the other side of the world in Sydney, Australia, where he starred as a rugby player. Yet, despite never playing the sport, Lewis Powell and the rest of the coaching staff convinced him to come play football for the University of Utah.

“I knew it was going to be a long road,” Yassmin said of the process getting to this point in time . “I’m not going to lie, I didn’t think it would take as long as it did, but I think it just makes it that much sweeter, sort of how long it has been taking to finally get the opportunity and show what I can do. Whilst it took a little bit longer, there’s also good reason behind that. I happened to come into a class of two of the top five tight ends in college football, Dalton and Brant – and Cole Fotheringham as well before; he’s in the NFL now. I think it’s also helped me a lot to learn behind such high-caliber players. And, like I say, it took a little bit longer than I expected, but I think it makes it a little worthwhile.”

With an opportunity to play as TE1 in the Rose Bowl, Yassmin is approaching the game with the right mindset. “I just try and treat it like any other game, obviously the number of reps I’m going to be taking and my role is going to increase, but for me personally I just gotta treat it as any other game.”

He’s serving in that role because Utah will be without their two top tight ends as Brant Kuithe and Dalton Kincaid both have suffered injuries at different points of the season that will keep them out of action. However, those two are still here with the team and that’s been rather helpful for Yassmin and others.

“Just having them here at the bowl game has been great,” he said. “Really, I mean, at the end of the day they’re my two best mates on the team, just having them there helps me treat it like it is any other game. Even before the bowl, when these guys are out, whatever, they’re always helping me on the sidelines and in practice, giving me tips. Those are arguably two of the best guys to learn from in terms of tight ends at the college football level.”

That speaks says to the mentality of the team, even without their top two tight ends, not only is the next one in line is ready to step up but the ones ahead of him continue to serve and be helpful to their teammates.

“We have the mentality and they have the attitude that someone goes down, the next man’s got to step up and we’ve got to be able to run with the same amount of efficiency we always have been., we can’t really stop what we have right now for any reason,” he described.

Now, the 6-foot-5, 251 pounder who amassed 300 receiving yards and five touchdowns on just 12 receptions, will have an opportunity to continue what has been done all season long and be a positive presence in both phases of the offense from the tight end position. However, considering where he’s come from and the process it’s been for him, this opportunity represents a lot more for Yassmin than simply getting a few more snaps and opportunities to make plays.

“Everyone says you’re never going to be satisfied, I had 12 receptions, obviously, I’d like more, and I want to be able to do more and show more,” he shared. “Compared to what I’ve done throughout my whole career combined, yeah, it’s great to at least demonstrate what I can do. And I think also not just even for me, my family, it’s a big thing. They sort of know definitely how much I’ve sacrificed to come here and a lot of what I gave back in Australia.”

It’s been a remarkable journey for Yassmin. It’s a difficult grind for everyone making the transition to Power Five football, let alone someone needing to learn the entire sport while doing so. So it has been a long five years with the program for Yassmin but with his opportunities this season, and potentially in the Rose Bowl, that journey may not be coming to an end either. Regardless, Yassmin’s focus is one thing.

We’re coming here, we want to get this W and want to walk away with that same feeling we had in the Pac-12 Championship game and get another first historic win for the program.”

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