SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 Sports) – After a disappointing and abbreviated 2020 season, in which they went 3-2, the Utes football team was eager to get back on the field for spring practice.
While most of the starting defense returns, all eyes will be on the battle for the starting quarterback and running back positions. The competition will be especially fierce because seniors were allowed to return to play without losing eligibility. So this spring has a whole new feel to it.
“It’s the most unique since I’ve been a head coach,” head coach Kyle Whittingham said. “We’ve got a big squad, we’ve got 120 players out for spring ball and I can’t remember ever having more than 90. Of course the pause in the eligibility this past fall is a big reason for that. It’s more of a fall camp feel than spring ball, when you pause the eligibility things get backed up.”
At the quarterback spot, last year’s starter Cam Rising is still out with a shoulder injury and will not play in spring ball. So Baylor transfer Charlie Brewer is listed as the starter with freshman Peter Costelli listed as the backup. The Utes also have talented Texas transfer Ja’Quenden Jackson.
Brewer, who threw for 9,700 yards and 65 touchdowns, has been impressed with the level of talent at Utah.
“I think we have a lot of good talent, good wide receivers and tight ends and running backs that can catch the ball,” Brewer said. “There’s going to be a lot of guys that can make some plays, so I think overall there’s a ton of talent.”
“It’s just a very raw, early speculation on how we’re going and what we feel is the pecking order right now,” Whittingham said about the quarterback competition. “That could change dramatically as guys start to take reps, so there is really nothing to read into that other than we don’t have any guys coming back other than Cam.”
The quarterback battle will continue into the fall, as will the competition for the starting running back job, with the likes of Micah Bernard, Chris Curry and TJ Pledger battling it out.
But there’s still a cloud over the program after the tragic death of star running back Ty Jordan last December, who died at the age of 19 in an accidental self-inflicted gunshot.
“Obviously as painful as anything I’ve been through as a football coach,” said Whittingham. “There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t think of Ty. He will definitely be missed, not just as a football player, that part was obvious, but his personality and charisma and the way he lit up a room. He was such a dynamic person and I personally miss him every day.”