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Brad Rock: Jon Hays should get keys for game against BYU

Published: Wednesday, July 29 2015 4:10 p.m. MDT

Utah Utes quarterback Jon Hays (9) was thrust back into action against USU as starter Jordan Wynn went down with yet another injury. (Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News) Utah Utes quarterback Jon Hays (9) was thrust back into action against USU as starter Jordan Wynn went down with yet another injury. (Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — His hairdo is a little wacky, and he has that Gotham-size ego, but there's no denying this about Donald Trump: He seems to know something about choosing investments — and maybe even picking quarterbacks.

"Experience taught me a few things," he once said. "One is listening to your gut, no matter how good something sounds on paper. The second is that you're generally better off sticking with what you know. And third is that sometimes your best investments are the ones you don't make."

In that case ...

Jordan Wynn, good luck in your coaching aspirations.

Travis Wilson, you go wait over there.

Jon Hays, here are the keys to the bus.

Utah coach Kyle Whittingham's gut should be telling him that Hays is the best choice the Utes have for a starting quarterback in Saturday's game against BYU. He's certainly the most experienced. Wynn and the Utes did the right thing by ending the torture on Monday. They got all the return they were going to on that investment.

Jordan Wynn, right, smiles during University of Utah football practice at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City, Thursday, Aug. 9, 2012. Travis Wilson and Jon Hays are at center and left. (Ravell Call, Deseret News) Jordan Wynn, right, smiles during University of Utah football practice at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City, Thursday, Aug. 9, 2012. Travis Wilson and Jon Hays are at center and left. (Ravell Call, Deseret News)

Which means now the most viable quarterback is Hays, their hurry-up choice last year, too, after Wynn went down. Thanks to attrition, determination or maybe even desperation, Hays should be Utah's man. He has certainly earned it. How many times does he have to try out? He joined the Utes 15 months ago as a sort of mini-tire spare, not the full-size model made for long trips; just something to get them to the next service station. Now they need to go the distance with him. Whittingham says it's an open battle for the starting spot between Hays and Wilson ("may the best man win"), but do they really want that?

Wilson, a freshman, is the Utes' future quarterback, an intriguing talent. But he probably isn't the second coming of Heisman candidate Matt Barkley. Hays won six of nine starts last season, taking over after Wynn was injured for the umpteenth time.

The Utes know this much: Hays wants to play. That was clear last season, when he rallied his team to a Sun Bowl win. It was even clearer last Friday when Wynn went down for the final count. Shortly after, Hays connected on three passes, rushed for 13 yards, completed another pass, and rushed for three more yards. He didn't get the Utes in the end zone on that possession, but he did get them in position for a 42-yard field goal, their first score of the night. He also threw a 24-yard scoring strike.

Were it not for an offensive interference call, Utah would have logged the tying TD in overtime on a Hays pass.

So it's time the Utes stop thinking of him as a security measure and start considering him their solution, until further notice. Even though Hays wasn't recruited as a Division I player, he has a certain composure and is clearly more comfortable and confident this year.

Wilson should continue in a situational role, getting experience along the way.

Though Wynn declared himself ready to go after last year's surgery, suspicions rose in fall camp when he took a couple of days off to rest his arm. He didn't complete anything longer than a 23-yard pass against small-time Northern Colorado.

By last Friday's game it was obvious the delivery Wynn showed at the 2009 Poinsettia Bowl wasn't returning. It's not as though the latest injury surprised anyone.

Wynn is as frail as parchment. When he first came to Utah he was a 155-pound stringbean. But no matter how much weight or muscle he added, he couldn't stay healthy. He has had three prior surgeries and had played just four complete games in the last 16.

So now it is Hays' team — or at least it should be. He has waited patiently, picking up on the first ring whenever the call came. Until he shows he can't do a consistent job, the Ute coaches should avoid turning this into drama. Rather, they should do what The Donald would do: go with what they know.

Email: rock@desnews.com, Twitter: therockmonster, Facebook: rockmonsterunplugged

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