Coach: Kruger, Newman in 'wrong place at the wrong time'

Updated: January 21, 2008, 6:18 PM ET
Associated Press

SALT LAKE CITY -- Two Utah football players who got stabbed in a street corner fight after leaving a house party were in the wrong place at the wrong time, their coach said Monday.

"It appears that our players are on the road to recovery, and for that we are very grateful," Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said. "As for the incident on Saturday night, we have been in contact with the Salt Lake County Sheriff's department and were told that the investigation is in its preliminary stages."

The assailants haven't been identified, sheriff's Lt. Paul Jaroscak told The Associated Press on Monday.

"It appears to be a classic example of being in the wrong place at the wrong time," Whittingham said. "The investigation is ongoing and we're waiting to hear what they learn."

One of the defensive lineman, Paul Kruger, underwent surgery for stab wounds as sheriff's deputies determined the fight took place between the players and hecklers from a passing car.

One of the Ute's most promising freshman players, the 6-foot-5, 255-pound Kruger was stabbed in the stomach, his father told The Salt Lake Tribune.

Kruger issued a statement Monday saying his condition was improving and that it shouldn't interfere with spring training.

"It was a scary situation. I was with my sister, brother and friends, and you don't expect that to happen," he said.

Kruger's brother, David, Kruger, a high-school football player in Orem, Utah, suffered cuts to the face that required stitches. He was doing OK, his older brother said.

Chris Newman, a 6-foot-4, 260-pound junior from Thousand Oaks, Calif., visited doctors on Monday who told him the two, four-inch-deep stab wounds to his abdomen should heal in about three weeks.

"I'm grateful that they didn't hit anything serious and that I'll be able to get go back to school in a few days and back working out in a few weeks," Newman said.

The stabbing is not being connected to a house party the three left late Saturday.

"We don't believe they were stabbed at the party, but a half-block away at the corner, where they had some kind of confrontation with people who drove by," Jaroscak said Monday.

"Those people then got out of the car and assaulted" the three, he said.

Investigators are still trying to figure out what led to the fight and who did the stabbing.

The case will be assigned to sheriff's detectives when they return Tuesday after the Martin Luther King Day holiday, Jaroscak said.

Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press