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Utah Utes football: Wynn downplays promotion to No. 1 QB

Published: Saturday, Aug. 15 2009 12:00 a.m. MDT

Jordan Wynn, the freshman quarterback for the Utah Utes, runs the ball downfield during football practice at Rice-Eccles Stadium on the University of Utah campus Friday. (Barton Glasser, Deseret News) Jordan Wynn, the freshman quarterback for the Utah Utes, runs the ball downfield during football practice at Rice-Eccles Stadium on the University of Utah campus Friday. (Barton Glasser, Deseret News)

Jordan Wynn said he had a "vanilla reaction" to being named the University of Utah's No. 1 quarterback Friday morning. The 19-year-old true freshman, who, for now, has come out on top in a competition against juniors Terrance Cain and Corbin Louks, planned it that way.

"I'm excited about it. But it's not like I'm going to go out and celebrate or anything," Wynn said after noting that nothing is final yet. "These guys are going to push me. I've just got to keep going out and competing."

The three-way competition to replace Brian Johnson as the Utes' starting quarterback took a turn when head coach Kyle Whittingham announced a pecking order following practice at Rice-Eccles Stadium.

"Jordan's running with the ones, Terrance Cain with the twos and Corbin the threes," Whittingham said while emphasizing that a starter may not be named until the day before Utah's Sept. 3 season opener against Utah State.

Jordan Wynn, the freshman quarterback for the Utah Utes, looks for his receiver during football practice at Rice-Eccles Stadium on the University of Utah campus Friday.  (Barton Glasser, Deseret News) Jordan Wynn, the freshman quarterback for the Utah Utes, looks for his receiver during football practice at Rice-Eccles Stadium on the University of Utah campus Friday. (Barton Glasser, Deseret News)

The depth chart, he added, gives the coaching staff a chance to get things sorted out and start getting some continuity.

"That's our starting point. Nothing's etched in stone, nor is any position on the team," Whittingham said. "You've got to produce. That's where we're at after eight days of evaluation."

Wynn, who graduated from high school early and enrolled at the U. in January, pulled ahead of the other candidates for a variety of reasons. Whittingham explained that the numbers he has put up in camp (every rep of every drill is graded), his accuracy and grasp of the offense were factors in the decision.

The way Wynn carries himself, he added, shows maturity beyond his age. Wynn reminds Whittingham of former Ute quarterback Alex Smith — same demeanor, same attitude and an ability to retain concepts.

Jordan Wynn, the freshman quarterback for the Utah Utes, makes a handoff during football practice at Rice-Eccles Stadium on the University of Utah campus Friday.  (Barton Glasser, Deseret News) Jordan Wynn, the freshman quarterback for the Utah Utes, makes a handoff during football practice at Rice-Eccles Stadium on the University of Utah campus Friday. (Barton Glasser, Deseret News)

Even so, the competition among Wynn, Cain and Louks was tight and should remain that way through the remainder of camp.

"It's neck-and-neck. There's very little separation between any of the three. That's why it was so difficult. But we had to go with what we thought was best and that's what we did," Whittingham said. "It's Jordan's job to hang on to. It's his job to produce every day."

A daily routine is nothing new for Wynn, who threw for 3,336 yards and 32 touchdowns last season at Oceanside High School in San Diego County. He has put on 43 pounds — upping his weight to 195 since arriving in Utah at the start of the year — through a strict exercise and diet plan.

"I was eating constantly," said Wynn, who acknowledged buying a lot of peanut butter, jelly and bread at the grocery. Protein shakes, and lots of them, were also part of the routine. At one point, he'd get up at 2 a.m. to drink a shake or two, or slam down a sandwich.

Coaches and players watch Jordan Wynn, the freshman quarterback for the Utah Utes, pass the ball during football practice at Rice-Eccles Stadium on the University of Utah campus Friday. (Barton Glasser, Deseret News) Coaches and players watch Jordan Wynn, the freshman quarterback for the Utah Utes, pass the ball during football practice at Rice-Eccles Stadium on the University of Utah campus Friday. (Barton Glasser, Deseret News)

The successful dedication to bulking up and learning the system, he added, helped him earn the respect of the older players in the program.

Leaving high school early also paid off.

"If he had not been here in the spring it would have been just about an insurmountable task to become the No. 1 guy," Whittingham said. "Being here in spring and the progress he made in spring ball really positioned himself for the opportunity to try to earn the job this fall."

Wynn isn't taking anything for granted.

"If anything I'm going to go harder," he said. "These two guys are still going to push me. Nothing is final. So I'm just going to keep doing what I've been doing."

Jordan Wynn, the freshman quarterback for the Utah Utes, catches the snap during football practice at Rice-Eccles Stadium on the University of Utah campus Friday. (Barton Glasser, Deseret News) Jordan Wynn, the freshman quarterback for the Utah Utes, catches the snap during football practice at Rice-Eccles Stadium on the University of Utah campus Friday. (Barton Glasser, Deseret News)

If Wynn holds onto the top spot, he'll become just the third true freshman to start at quarterback for Utah since the NCAA restored eligibility to freshmen in 1972. Ken Vierra started twice in 1981 and Scott Cate once in 1982.

e-mail: dirk@desnews.com

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