When a team is mediocre or bad at quarterback, it can expose a lot of things that otherwise might go unnoticed.
"Sure, luck means a lot in football. Not having a good quarterback is bad luck."
— Don Shula
No position in team sports elicits more attention — good or bad — than quarterback. When a team has a quality QB it can cover up a ton of deficiencies. When a team is mediocre or bad at quarterback, it can expose a lot of things that otherwise might go unnoticed.
When Jordan Wynn went down with yet another shoulder injury early this season, the Utes became exposed at the most critical position and during their most crucial stretch of games. But I'm not here to rehash the Jon Hays situation. That's already been well documented and chronicled in this space and elsewhere. Hays is what he is, a tough kid being placed in a tougher situation.
So where do the Utes go from here? What does the future at the Utah quarterback position look like? First, let me say the assertions that Jake Heaps should transfer to Utah and play QB, which have made the rounds, should not happen. That's a move I don't believe would help either party in the short or long term.
The Utes have a number of quarterback options moving forward. Here's how the position breaks down as Utah moves into its second season as a member of the Pac-12.
Jordan Wynn: The latest shoulder injury is certainly a setback for Wynn, as it's his third major surgery in two years on his shoulders. This time it's the non-throwing shoulder, which should allow for a rehab process that gets him back in time for spring ball. Upside: Experience and leadership. Downside: Can he stay healthy enough to be counted on?
Jon Hays: Barring an injury, Hays will finish the season as the starter and with Pac-12 game experience under his belt. Upside: You will have a competent and quality backup quarterback with real game experience. Downside: He's limited in his skill set as a starter.
Tyler Shreve: A big-time athletic talent, who will have been in the program more than a year. He has all the looks of a Pac-12 quarterback — size, athleticism and strong arm. The coaching staff hoped Shreve would step up and become the No. 2 this season, but it just didn't happen. Upside: Can do everything athletically that a Pac-12 QB needs to do. Downside: Has struggled with the nuances of the position.
Travis Wilson: He's a four-star quarterback recruit from San Clemente, Calif., who's verbally committed to play for Utah. He stands 6-foot-6 and weighs 220 pounds, and excels at football and volleyball. He is the prototype Pac-12 quarterback that Utah needs to compete in its new conference. The plan is for Wilson to enroll in school for the spring semester and begin competing in spring football. Upside: Looks to be the best overall prospect in the pipeline for the near future. Downside: Lack of experience.
Chase Hansen: Hansen is a big-time quarterback prospect from Lone Peak High in Utah County. At 6-foot-3 and 215 pounds he appears to possess all the skills to become a terrific college football player. There has been some discussion that Hansen could be moved to another position, but I've been told that his future at Utah is at quarterback. Upside: Pac-12 skill set. Downside: It will likely be 2014 till we see Hansen, as he will be mission-bound.
The junior college option also remains in play, but might be difficult with the numbers already in the system with Utah football.
While numbers and options were limited for Norm Chow and Brian Johnson this season, expect a much more competitive and talented quarterback depth chart for Utah football moving forward.
Bill Riley can be heard as the radio voice of the University of Utah on game days and on weekdays from 2-6 p.m. on the "Bill and Spence Show" on ESPN Radio 700 AM.