Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News
SALT LAKE CITY — Make no mistake about it, Jordan Wynn is still king of the hill in Utah's quarterback hierarchy — even with a sore arm.
"He's our guy and we're sticking with him," offensive coordinator Brian Johnson said while noting that Wynn has done nothing in camp to lose his job as the starter. "Bottom line is he's the guy that gives us the best opportunity to win and we trust him in game situations."
Wynn, who has been pushed in practices by true freshman Travis Wilson and senior Jon Hays, maintains the top spot despite having not thrown a pass since Wednesday. Johnson explained that they're being conservative with Wynn's arm to combat soreness. The junior is otherwise healthy since recovering from three shoulder surgeries since the spring of 2010.
"Nothing to worry about. Nothing to freak out about," Wynn said after Friday morning's camp session at Rice-Eccles Stadium. "No structural damage or anything. Just a little sore."
Utah coach Kyle Whittingham compared the situation to that of a baseball pitcher with a tired arm. To prevent things from becoming chronic, he explained, Wynn's arm is getting a little rest — perhaps until Monday when game preparations for the Aug. 30 season opener against Northern Colorado begin to take shape.
"We're just holding him out," Whittingham said while insisting Wynn is good to go when needed.
Like Johnson, Whittingham reiterated Wynn's No. 1 standing on the depth chart — noting that it's been that way throughout camp. Even so, Whittingham acknowledged it's been a competition like every other position in the program.
And though he was pleased to see the reserve quarterbacks close the gap in camp, Whittingham points out that Wynn has also performed well.
The journey, however, has been accompanied by a barrage of media questions along the way. Wynn has answered inquiries about a variety of topics including the other quarterbacks, his status as a starter and not being re-elected as a captain.
Now comes arm soreness.
"It's just part of the deal. I'm just going to take it day-by-day, regardless," Wynn said. "So I've just got to continue to keep my head up and get through it."
Wynn has learned a great deal about patience while battling injuries over the past two years.
"He's one of the most mentally tough people I've been around since I've been in this program," Johnson said while making note of all the things Wynn has endured in his collegiate career. "He acts like a professional and he understands it comes with part of the territory."
Life as a starting quarterback, Johnson related, require mental and physical toughness.
"No doubt. Everybody loves the backup quarterback," he said. "That's kind of the deal. It happens at every level, whether it's pee wee or the New York Jets with Tim Tebow and (Mark) Sanchez. It's just kind of the nature of the beast."
Rolling with the punches is necessary, Johnson added, in order to handle situations like 50,000 people screaming at you on third-and-8 in a game.
Wynn said he's a better quarterback and is more mentally tough than he was when he became Utah's starter over the last five games of 2009. He's not easy to rattle, just ask the media.
Wynn patiently answered questions about his sore arm, noting he had thrown the ball hard every day for two weeks and just wants everything to be right for the season.
As for the other guys — Wilson, Hays and Adam Schulz — Wynn noted that a spirited competition is healthy for all of them.
"I think I've progressed as well," Wynn said. "So we're all competing with each other, making each other better."
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