Utah football notes: More than one quarterback competition up on the hill
Ravell Call, Deseret News
SALT LAKE CITY — Travis Wilson and Kendal Thompson aren’t the only Utah quarterbacks involved in a competition. As the first week of preseason camp draws to an end, redshirt freshmen Conner Manning and Brandon Cox are also auditioning for a spot on the depth chart.
“It’s a battle for that third spot and that will continue to be battled for just like the No. 1 and No. 2 spot for the next several days,” said Utah coach Kyle Whittingham.
Although Whittingham acknowledged that Manning is the leader, he noted that Cox continues to “make the most of his reps.”
Whittingham said that junior Adam Schulz has been the “odd-man out” right now.
“We haven’t had a chance to get any look at Adam,” Whittingham said.
Schulz started three games last season in place of the injured Wilson.
SUPER SLUGGER: As expected, freshman tight end Wallace Gonzalez dominated the post-practice “Home Run Derby” as part of the team’s ongoing “Training Camp Olympics.” Gonzalez, who has spent three years as an outfielder in the Houston Astros farm system, reportedly drove eight balls over the fence to win the competition handily.
“We were serving them up and he did not disappoint,” Whittingham said. “He’s as advertised on the diamond.”
Gonzalez downplayed the accomplishment, especially since the batting cage was moved just to the outside of the infield — a little bit shorter than he’s used to.
“It was good. It was all fun,” said Gonzalez, who reminded his teammates that they’ve been doing football stuff their whole life and he’s been doing baseball things.
“I’m trying to catch up, and it’s easier to do the baseball stuff,” he said.
As for football, Gonzalez explained that things are coming along well and that he’s getting a lot of help from coaches and teammates.
The Utes have been divided into nine teams and will compete in different events during camp. Earlier in the week, punter Tom Hackett won a closest-to-the pin golf competition.
BACKING MITCHELL: When it comes to picking a winner in the upcoming season of television’s “The Biggest Loser,” Whittingham is backing former Utah quarterback Scott Mitchell.
“My money is on him,” Whittingham said. “I’m saying he wins it. I’ll go out on a limb right now and put my money on Scott.”
SCHOLARSHIP AWARDED: Whittingham announced that walk-on Clint Shepard, a junior defensive tackle, has been given a scholarship. He said that two or three more guys will also be awarded scholarships throughout the course of fall camp.
“Clint was the first and very well deserved,” said Whittingham, who added that the announcement was the high point of a recent team meeting.
EXTRA POINTS: Whittingham said it would probably be another five-six days of looking at combinations on the right side of the offensive line before any determination of starters is made . . . Rick Neuheisel and Mike Yam of the Pac-12 Networks will visit Monday as part of their conference tour. The Utah portion of the “Football Training Camp” show will air Monday at 10 p.m. Alaska Airlines has announced a partnership with the Utes for reduced travel to games and priority boarding. For more information, visit: www.utahutes.com/flyalaska
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