Utah football: Quarterback Jon Hays is primed to make his first start for Utes

Published: Monday, Oct. 3 2011 8:00 p.m. MDT

"I think they're both great quarterbacks," he said. "I think Jordan is a phenomenal leader. He's a tremendous worker. I think Jon shares similar attributes."

Hays took a less conventional path to Utah. After quarterbacking California's Butte College to a 9-2 record and a bowl victory, he signed with Nebraska-Omaha. The Division II program, though, opted to drop football last spring — leaving Hays on the outside looking in. The Utes, meanwhile, lost a couple of quarterback recruiting battles down the stretch and decided to move Robles to linebacker.

The two sides eventually came together. Whittingham and his staff have a good relationship with the Butte program, which sent Brett Ratliff to Utah and includes Super Bowl MVP Aaron Rodgers amongst its alumni.

Hays joined the Utes in time for summer conditioning, where Wynn helped bring him up to speed.

"Jordan is a great guy and he's been great ever since I got here," Hays said during camp.

Although excited to join the Pac-12 program, Hays admitted it was initially frustrating because he got a little overwhelmed. While learning the offense, he was thinking more than reacting.

"I've just got to keep working hard and get things done when I need to," Hays said. "That's how I've got to approach it, with my work ethic and in the film room and doing everything right off the field. So that when I get on the field, my teammates can trust me."

True freshman Tyler Shreve, who the Utes had hoped to redshirt this season, is slated to be Hays' backup.

Arizona State (4-1, 2-0) at Utah (2-2, 0-2)

Saturday, 1:30 p.m.

Rice-Eccles Stadium

TV: Root

Radio: 700 AM

Email: dirk@desnews.com

Twitter: DirkFacer

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