It's a lot of work that's all going to culminate Thursday night. —Jordan Wynn
SALT LAKE CITY — It's been nearly 11 months since Utah quarterback Jordan Wynn has played in a game. His last appearance for the Utes was Oct. 1 against Washington. He suffered a season-ending shoulder injury in the first half that day, requiring surgery and a lengthy rehab.
Now, fully recovered and claiming to be as healthy as he's ever been, Wynn steps back into his role as the starter. The junior leads the Utes into Thursday's season-opener against Northern Colorado at Rice-Eccles Stadium.
"It's been a long road, a lot of work has gone into it," Wynn said. "It'll definitely be on my mind when I take the field Thursday."
Wynn returns to the lineup bigger, stronger and healthier than in previous campaigns.
"He's worked extremely hard in the offseason to get himself to this point," said Utah coach Kyle Whittingham, who noted that Wynn is close to 210 pounds and about maxed out for his frame. "So I feel better about Jordan right now than ever at any point since he's been here."
Wynn acknowledged it's just nice to be healthy and able to play again. He missed nine games last season then worked his way back through spring and summer workouts, as well as fall camp.
"It's a lot of work that's all going to culminate Thursday night," Wynn said.
Running back John White noted that Wynn is ready to go and has been anticipating his return to action.
"He's ready to let it rip. Last year he went down, but this year is going to be different," White said. "Jordan Wynn is really going to step up."
The start will be Wynn's 20th since arriving at Utah in 2009. He enters the game with 4,390 career passing yards and 31 touchdowns — ranking among the program's all-time leaders in both categories.
Wynn's return accompanies another major storyline at the beginning of Whittingham's eighth season at the helm.
It'll mark the debut of Brian Johnson as offensive coordinator. The 25-year-old former Utah quarterback was promoted to the post in February, replacing Norm Chow who became the head coach at Hawaii.
"This is not the first time he has called plays. He did it plenty as a quarterback. We have had conversations and I have felt very comfortable how he has handled scrimmage situations," Whittingham said. "He's been outstanding. So there are no reservations whatsoever. I have a great deal of confidence in Brian and he has prepared well for this opportunity."
EXTRA POINTS: This will be the first football game ever broadcast by the Pac-12 Networks. Conference commissioner Larry Scott will be on hand to commemorate it. … Utah and Northern Colorado haven't met since squaring off in 1936 and 1937. The Utes won both games. … A couple of new traditions are planned. The "Crazy Lady" will perform near the end of halftime to get fans on their feet before the team returns to the field. The Utah Marching Band will play a "taiko" Japanese drum during the third quarter break and the ROTC cannon will fire off four times before the fourth quarter begins. … The Utes will run out of a new tunnel for pregame introductions.
Northern Colorado at Utah
Thursday, 5:15 p.m. MT
TV: Pac-12 Networks (Comcast Ch. 37, Ch. 757)
Radio: ESPN 700