Utah Utes football: Jordan Wynn set to show Pac-12 he belongs
Mike Terry, Deseret News
SALT LAKE CITY — Utah quarterback Jordan Wynn insists he doesn't feel the weight of the world on his shoulders, especially the surgically repaired one.
"I've got to go out and just have fun this year," Wynn said. "Staying healthy is a big key each and every year. It's not any different this year."
Wynn, though, is now the only quarterback the Utes have with any major college experience. Backup Jon Hays is a junior college transfer and third-stringer Tyler Shreve is a freshman.
For precautionary reasons, Wynn was restricted to a throw count throughout much of camp. Team trainers put together a schedule so that the junior would avoid "chronic soreness" and be ready to go when the season begins.
The initial payoff came in the final scrimmage when Wynn led the offense to its best day of camp. The encore comes Sept. 1 when Utah opens the season against Montana State and Sept. 10 in the Utes' Pac-12 debut at USC.
Wynn says he's ready to go and insists last December's surgery is a thing of the past. He's healthy and eager to make his mark in the "Conference of quarterbacks" featuring high-profile signal callers like Andrew Luck of Stanford and Matt Barkley of USC.
"I want to assert myself into this talk of great QBs. I'm going to go out and try to do it," Wynn said. "There's some great QBs in there, but I want to be up there with them."
Although Wynn wasn't able to throw the ball in spring ball, he did absorb new offensive coordinator Norm Chow's scheme. The offense has been tweaked to establish a downhill run game and to put Wynn in a greater position to succeed, putting him under center more as he was in high school.
Wynn likes the new system and acknowledged that his strength isn't as a dual-threat quarterback. He's more comfortable in play action and in taking three- and five-step drops.
The opportunity to work with Chow is something Wynn has enjoyed. He has followed Chow's career and knows he has worked with Heisman Trophy winners and NFL quarterbacks. The player and coach have bonded quickly as the Utes switch gears.
"It's Norm's show. It's his offense," said Utah coach Kyle Whittingham. "He was brought in here for a reason and that was to install and implement some West Coast elements to the offense and get us in more of a pro-style attack. He has complete autonomy with the offense."
And Wynn is his guy.
"I think the prerequisite to a quarterback is the ability to think and make quick decisions and it's very obvious that he has that," Chow said. "It was obvious just meeting with him in a meeting room that he understood what was happening."
Wynn, he added, is bothered by missed throws in practices and works hard to get things right.
"He's what you look for intangibly in your quarterback — the intangibles Jordan possesses," said Whittingham, who refers to Wynn as a "football junkie."
So, too, does quarterbacks coach Brian Johnson. He is pleased with Wynn's development physically and in other areas as well.
"He's a leader," Johnson said. "He's grown into a leader and I think the guys really are rallying around him."
Wynn was chosen by his teammates to be a captain this season. It's something that means a lot to him. He considers it an honor.
Utah is 11-4 over the past two seasons with Wynn as a starter. He has thrown for 3,663 yards and 25 touchdowns in his career with the Utes.
In 2011, he'll run the offense behind an offensive line anchored by a pair of NFL-caliber senior tackles in Tony Bergstrom and John Cullen.
"We want to do all that we can to make Jordan successful. We want to make him look good," Bergstrom said. "He makes himself look good, but we want to do whatever we can to help out with that."
Wynn, the Poinsettia Bowl MVP in 2009, is on the preseason watch list for two national quarterback awards — Davey O'Brien and Manning accolades.
Jordan Wynn file
Biggest influence: "My dad, hands down. I lived with him all throughout high school. He's one of my closest friends. I talk to him a couple of times a day. He's definitely the biggest influence on me."
Best gridiron memory: "As of right now, it's the Poinsettia Bowl. By far, just being back in San Diego and beating a team like Cal and winning the MVP."
Favorite quarterback: "I have a combination. Growing up I always liked watching Brett Favre, just because he had so much fun. He was always laughing and messing around." Wynn also enjoys watching tape of guys like Joe Montana, who are "not necessarily the 6-foot-5, 240-pound gunslinger but just very methodical about what he did and went out and won."
Pre-game ritual or superstition? "Nah. No superstitions, no rituals. I go out and warm up. Nothing out of the ordinary."
Currently playing on your iPod: "A lot of Drake. Drake's an artist, a lot of Drake. That's what I listen to the most ... He's got some good music. That's about it. I've got a lot of stuff but that's what is on it right now, probably."
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