Utah football: Utes have a plan in place to thin the herd at quarterback
Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News
SALT LAKE CITY — When spring camp opened Tuesday, Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said the quarterback situation was going to be evaluated and scrutinized every day. He added that some decisions would have to be made sooner rather than later to at least thin the herd a little bit and decide which guys to sink the reps into this spring.
Returning starter Travis Wilson, who has been cleared to participate in noncontact drills after missing the last three games of 2013 because of an intracranial artery injury, headlines a cast of five scholarship quarterbacks with 2014 eligibility in camp this spring. He’s joined by fellow junior Adam Schulz, as well as redshirt freshmen Brandon Cox, Conner Manning and Micah Thomas.
Oklahoma transfer Kendal Thompson and Louisiana prep star Donovan Isom join the mix this summer.
Thinning the herd has already started. Thomas is taking some reps at receiver early in camp.
“But it’s hard. It’s hard to find enough reps to give everyone the opportunity that they probably deserve and it’s going to be tough,” said Utah quarterbacks coach Aaron Roderick. “I’m losing sleep over it. It’s stressful because I want to give everybody a fair chance and there are just not enough reps to go around.”
The staff, he added, is doing the best it can to be as fair as possible. There’s a methodical approach.
“We have a detailed plan every day. It’s not haphazard,” Roderick said. “We know exactly which plays which guys are going to be in and how many plays they’re getting. We’re meticulous about it. We’ll just let it play itself out and see who emerges and what pecking order.”
Running back is another position with a logjam of depth. Returning starter Bubba Poole, a junior, tops the first spring depth chart, but he’s being pushed by redshirt freshman Troy McCormick and junior college transfer Devontae Booker.
Utah running backs coach Dennis Erickson said Poole is having a good spring. He noted that McCormick can really run and added that Booker looks like he’s got what the Utes thought he had when they recruited him. Erickson also mentioned redshirt freshman Dre’Vian Young and Tavaris Williams, a Florida high school running back expected to join the team this fall.
There are several other running backs in the program as well.
“We’ve got a lot of guys. I’ve got to get them separated. We can’t practice with that many guys,” Erickson said. “So in the next couple of weeks, I’d like to get to three or four and use them in different situations because they are different.”
The ability to mix things up, he continued, could lead to some favorable matchups.
EXTRA POINTS: Saturday’s practice at Rice-Eccles Stadium is open to the public. It’s scheduled from 10 a.m.-noon. ... It’ll be the third of 15 sessions of camp and the first in full pads (no tackle). ... Registration for the “Ultimate Tailgate Competition” before the red-white spring game on April 19 begins Monday on UtahUtes.com.
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