SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – The Charlie Brewer era at the Utah football program is officially over, just three games after it began.
Brewer, who started the first three games of the season, was not listed on the depth chart ahead of Utah’s Pac-12 opener against Washington State this Saturday. Cam Rising, who nearly led Utah to a comeback win at San Diego State on Saturday is the new starter.
In a statement to the media on Tuesday, head coach Kyle Whittingham confirmed that the highly touted transfer from Baylor was no longer with the team.
“Charlie has decided to move on and we wish him the best,” he stated.
Brewer arrived at Utah as a graduate transfer after a successful run at quarterback at Baylor. In four seasons behind center for the Bears, Brewer had two seasons with over 3,000 passing yards and never had a season-long quarterback rating of less than 138.0. His best season came in 2019 when he completed 64.5% of his passes for 3,161 yards with 21 touchdown passes to just seven interceptions.
“When we had made the decision to start Charlie, I told everybody all fall camp that it was neck and neck,” Whittingham said. “It was that close. And it was the experience that Charlie brought to the table that really was the difference maker.”
After a solid two-touchdown performance against Weber State, Brewer struggled in losses to BYU and San Diego State. After throwing an interception in the third quarter against San Diego State, Brewer was benched and replaced by Rising with the Utes trailing, 24-10.
Rising proceeded to throw for three touchdowns and nearly pulled off the comeback effort in a 33-31 triple-overtime loss to the Aztecs.
“It was the way he came in and gave us a spark and moved the team,” Whittingham said. “He threw three touchdown passes and showed some mobility, that’s another strength of his. We just felt as a staff that he came in and did exactly what we hoped he would do.”
“I take great pride in making sure that I’m setting the example and just focus on doing that,” Rising said. “Just making sure everybody stays together and is really locked in on what we’re trying to accomplish.”
Brewer informed Whittingham that he intended to leave the team on Monday. Whittingham told him to sleep on it, which Brewer did, but he did not change his mind.
“You give them advice,” Whittingham said. “You tell them the way you see it and he felt it was in his best interest to get to a new place.”
Brewer was a highly-regarded transfer after throwing for 9,700 yards and 65 touchdowns in four seasons at Baylor. But in three games, Brewer completed just 48 of 79 passes for 484 yards, three touchdowns and three interceptions for the Utes.
Rising will now start for the Utes in its Pac-12 opener Saturday against Washington State. Rising won the starting job last season over South Carolina transfer Jake Bentley, but suffered a season-ending shoulder injury in the first game of the season against USC.
“The biggest testament to what Cam did was that when he was the backup, he was just as hyped as he was when he was the starter,” said wide receiver Britain Covey. “You can’t say that about everybody. A lot of times when people aren’t playing, they’re kind of sitting on the sideline, they’re not as hyped and they’re not hyping people up as much. Then when they do get called in and you bring that energy, it just feels like a different person, whereas Cam is that person all the time. I think that’s what people can rally behind is the fact that we’re going to get that from Cam 24/7.”
Freshman Ja’Quinden Jackson, who is also a transfer from Texas, is now the backup quarterback.
After the loss to the Aztecs, the team held a players-only meeting where they aired their grievances about what was going wrong. Brewer did not speak at that meeting.
“No he did not,” said linebacker Devin Lloyd. “I think it just goes to show how much leadership we do have on this team. We know it’s just a buy-in from the young guys and guys whose role may not be as big, but still as valuable.”
“We had a lot of guys speak and a lot of guys talk,” Covey said. “It doesn’t mean it’s going to translate into ten straight victories. But the team is in a much better head space right now.”
Utah is 1-2 on the year and still has the goal of winning the Pac-12 South within reach.
“This is what we’ve been waiting for and what we’ve been itching for,” Rising said. “We’re looking forward to the challenge that we’re facing ahead and we’re ready for it.”