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Utah Utes football: Backup QBs don't have experience

Published: Sunday, Aug. 7 2011 5:17 p.m. MDT

SALT LAKE CITY — Norm Chow doesn't know what all the fuss is about. It's not like the Utah Utes are in a unique position when it comes to a lack of experience when it comes to reserve quarterbacks.

"People make a big deal out of that," Chow said. " But I bet you there's not 20, 30 percent of the programs in this country that has a back-up quarterback that has played before."

At Utah, returning starter Jordan Wynn is backed by junior college transfer Jon Hays and freshman Tyler Shreve.

Hays, who joined the Utes after spring ball, is running with the twos early in camp.

"We really like what we see," said Utah coach Kyle Whittingham.

The 6-foot, 212-pounder from Butte College (Calif.), where former Ute Brett Ratliff and Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers played, is making up ground. He was a late addition to the roster, becoming available when Nebraska-Omaha dropped its program.

Chow said coaching friends at both schools suggested Utah look at Hays when the Utes were looking to add some depth at quarterback after moving sophomore Griff Robles to linebacker.

"They recommended him highly," Chow said. "He's a high character guy."

Hays has made a good impression on the field. He's making some good throws, Chow noted, and adapted well despite hitting the wall a little bit after three days of install.

That, he explained, may be from thinking too much early on.

"We expect him to study and learn and be ready to go," Chow said.

Hays and Shreve are expected to battle for the No. 2 spot throughout camp.

TOP TACKLER: Senior linebacker Chaz Walker has evolved from being a walk-on safety to becoming Utah's leading tackler. Walker, however, would gladly trade his tackle title for something else.

"I would rather go 13-0 and not have that, but it's something to shoot for, something nice to have," Walker said. "But I'd definitely rather get that big ring than be the leading tackler."

Walker, who is on the Rotary Lombardi Award watch list, admits its kind of a friendly competition — same as the quest for playing time at linebacker.

"Everyone wants to play but we've got about eight or nine guys that know the defense pretty well and can play," he said. "We're just looking for that 'W' and whoever plays, plays."

Make no mistake, though, its quite competitive.

"Everyone is trying to push everybody," Walker said. "Everyone wants everyone else to be as good as they can be."

EXTRA POINTS: Practice resumes today with a single morning session. The Utes will wear full gear for the first time Tuesday. The first two-a-day is scheduled for Wednesday with the initial scrimmage on Thursday . . . Wide receiver Anthony Denham, who is out indefinitely, will have follow up work and additional diagnosis on his injured hamstring Monday . . . All practices and scrimmages are closed to the public.

Email: dirk@desnews.com

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