SALT LAKE CITY — Jordan Wynn has lofty aspirations as the Utah Utes head into the Pac-12. The junior is eager to make his mark in the "conference of quarterbacks" where Heisman Trophy candidates like Andrew Luck of Stanford, Darron Thomas of Oregon and Matt Barkley of USC reside.
"I'm not a freshman, I'm not a sophomore, any more. My clock is ticking," Wynn said. "I've got two years left to really assert myself and what better way than in the conference of quarterbacks."
Wynn is not only determined to rank among the elite players in the conference, he's got his sights set on the nation as well.
"It's time for me to step up," he said.
After having surgery on his throwing shoulder in December, Wynn has worked hard to prepare himself for the opportunity to lead Utah's offense into the Pac-12.
"I love it. I want to be in this conference. I want to assert myself into this talk of great QBs," he said. "I'm going to go out and try to do it. There's some great QBs in there but I want to be up there with them."
Although Wynn was unable to throw the ball in spring practices and has been limited in fall camp for precautionary reasons, new offensive coordinator Norm Chow has been impressed with his work ethic and knowledge of the game.
"He's a bright, bright guy," Chow said while acknowledging Wynn's desire to be one of the Pac-12's top signal callers.
Getting Wynn to an elite level with Barkley, Luck and Thomas, Chow explained, is a goal shared by everyone involved.
Wynn is 11-4 as Utah's starter. He's completed 290-of-478 passes for 3,663 yards and 25 touchdowns in his career running the Utes' spread offense.
Chow's arrival, though, has been accompanied by change. Wynn will be under center more often, running an offense similar to what he directed in high school.
"Coach Chow is very, very high on Jordan," said Utah coach Kyle Whittingham, who added that Wynn is poised to get the job done this fall.
"I've got no doubt that he will. He's very mature. He understands the game inside and out. He's a football junkie," Whittingham said. "He loves football. He's in the film room constantly. He's what you look for intangibly in your quarterback."
Utah quarterbacks coach Brian Johnson agrees. He said Wynn is more than capable of being one of the Pac-12's elite players at the position.
"Absolutely. He's just as talented as those guys and I think the mental preparation that he puts into a game is second to none," he explained. "That guy studies his tail off every single day. He's a football junkie. He has the talent to be there and I think the thing that will separate him is his work ethic, his toughness and his leadership. So I think he has all the components to put everything together and have a great season."
How great? Great enough to be mentioned along with conference stars like Barkley, Luck, Thomas and Arizona's Nick Foles?
"We'll find out. Time will tell," Whittingham said. "But that would be ideal if we can get him in the same conversation as those guys."
Wynn vows to be more vocal this season and carry a greater leadership role with the team. The 21-year-old is coming of age.
"He understands the importance of this season and the importance he has in us being successful. He's a leader," Johnson said. "He's grown into a leader and I think the guys are really rallying around him."
Wide receiver Reggie Dunn has noticed a change in Wynn's demeanor this year.
"Jordan is much more confident, has a lot more swag to him. It's just maturity, him being older and him knowing the offense," Dunn said. "It's just great to see him out there, like reading the defense. He's better this year as a quarterback and as a person, as a great leader."
It's a component that Dunn believes will help make the Utes as good as any team in the Pac-12, or country for that matter. They'll be just fine, he continued, with a blend of talent, speed, size and Wynn running the offense.
"He's my quarterback so I'm going to ride with him," Dunn said.
Wynn's development has been measured. He joined the Utes as a skinny freshman who needed to down a lot of milkshakes, as well as peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, to gain enough weight to play. Wynn bulked up and went on to have the best season ever by a true freshman quarterback at Utah, throwing for 1,329 yards over six games. He capped things off with an MVP performance in the 2009 Poinsettia Bowl victory over Cal, completing 26-of-36 passes for 338 yards and three touchdowns.
A photo from that game, in fact, was recently sent to Wynn via Twitter. He showed it to Johnson during lunch the other day.
"The most noticeable thing is the change in his body. He looks like a different kid," Johnson said about seeing the picture. "He looks like a completely different guy. He's grown into a man. The work that he has put in to become 200 pounds and to really take pride in changing his body and bulking up has been extremely impressive."
And that's not all.
"He's always been a smart guy. We've always had a lot of confidence in him in his ability to read defenses and make plays for us," Johnson said. "He's growing up right in front of our eyes. That's expected, it happens when you play as much as he has and as early as he's been doing it. He's played a lot of football for us and he's seen a lot."
Enough, the Utes hope, to make a successful jump to the Pac-12.
Pac-12: "Conference of quarterbacks"
NICK FOLES, Arizona (6-5, 240, Sr.): Passed for 3,191 yards and 20 touchdowns in 11 games last season.
BROCK OSWEILER, Arizona State (6-8, 240, Jr.): Had 647 yards passing and five TDs in last two games of 2010.
ZACH MAYNARD, California (6-2, 190, Jr.): Transfer tallied 2,694 yards and 18 touchdowns at Buffalo in 2009.
TYLER HANSEN, Colorado (6-1, 215, Sr.): Ruptured spleen limited 2010 to seven games and 1,102 passing yards.
DARRON THOMAS, Oregon (6-3, 215, Jr.): Led Ducks to BCS title game last season (2,881 yards passing, 30 TDs).
RYAN KATZ, Oregon State (6-1, 214, Jr.): Completed 212 passes in 2010, netting 2,386 yards and 18 touchdowns.
ANDREW LUCK, Stanford (6-4, 235, Jr.): Heisman runner-up passed for 3,338 yards and 32 TDs last season.
KEVIN PRINCE, UCLA (6-2, 223, Jr.): Back after knee injury in 2010. Has 16 career starts — 2,434 yards, 11 TDs.
MATT BARKLEY, USC (6-2, 220, Jr.): Third year as starter has 5,526 career passing yards and 41 touchdowns.
JORDAN WYNN, Utah (6-1, 201, Jr.): Threw for 2,334 yards and 17 TDs as a sophomore, is 11-4 as a starter.
KEITH PRICE, Washington (6-1, 195, Soph.): Jake Locker's backup in 2010. Started against Oregon (14 completions).
JEFF TUEL, Washington State (6-3, 223, Jr.): Racked up 2,780 yards passing and 18 TDs last season for the Cougars.
Utah camp report
DAY 5: The Utes practiced in full pads for the first time Tuesday at Ute Field.
STANDOUTS: Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said safeties Keith McGill and Eric Rowe continue to play well. Same goes for defensive end Nate Fakahafua, who intercepted a pass during live work. Kickers Nick Marsh and Coleman Petersen also had strong showings.
INJURIES: Offensive lineman Sam Brenner bruised his forearm.
NEXT UP: Practice resumes today with the first two-a-day of camp.
Copyright 2015, Deseret News Publishing Company