SALT LAKE CITY — The backup quarterback, some claim, is the most popular man on a college campus.
If so, one Utah freshman should have no problems finding study partners or dates.
Ready or not — for possible newfound fame and, more importantly, for possible game action — Tyler Shreve suddenly finds himself in the thick of things with the Utes after spending the first part of his freshman college season on the scout squad.
Because of starting QB Jordan Wynn's shoulder injury, junior college transfer Jon Hays will take snaps for the Utes this afternoon against Arizona State.
That promotion puts the inexperienced 20-year-old Shreve, a highly touted baseball prospect who sat out last season for disciplinary reasons, as the safety-valve No. 2 guy.
"They're telling me I'm one step away," Shreve said. "So, hopefully Jon can do his thing and nothing happens. But if (something to Hays) were to occur, I'll be ready, no doubt."
Offensive coordinator Norm Chow admitted Shreve has "got a ways to go," but Utah coach Kyle Whittingham credited his two-sport talent for "doing a nice job" while shaking off the rust.
Wynn's injury situation also forced the Utes into switching sophomore Griff Robles from linebacker to quarterback for now. Robles, who took a limited number of No. 2 snaps at practice this week, excelled as a playmaker during his prep days at Spanish Fork.
Whittingham doesn't foresee the 6-4, 235-pound Robles sticking with the offense, but it's a temporary fix the QB-lean Utes currently need.
"Ultimately, we think (defense is) where he's going to belong," Whittingham said. "But the situation we're in now, he's going to stay at quarterback for a while."
Robles, who took a lot of spring snaps, admitted to going through "a bit of a learning curve," but he didn't hesitate to change duties.
"I'm happy to do that if that's what the team needed of me," he said. "The transition hasn't been terrible."
BIG FAN: Whittingham hasn't had much interaction with Dennis Erickson, but he's admired the ASU boss since he coached at Idaho in the 1980s.
"I've respected him ever since I can remember," he said. "I've followed his career and been very impressed with what he's done."
Among Erickson's career highlights: two national titles at Miami, a couple of NFL head coaching gigs, stops at Oregon State, Washington State and Wyoming, and an unprecedented three Pac-10 coach of the year awards with three schools.9 comments on this story
"There's a lot of good coaches in this conference," Whittingham said. "But the guy I listen to (at the Pac-12 meetings) and hang on every word is Dennis Erickson. A wealth of knowledge."
ANOTHER FAN: Returning O-lineman Tony Bergstrom spoke highly of his team's new starting QB.
"I don't know if I can help Jon Hays. Jon Hays is fine. I need Jon Hays to help me. That's what I need," he said. "Jon's put in so much work. The O-line just went up to him and told him we've got his back this week. We'll do anything we can for him. We all respect the heck out of Jon."
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