SALT LAKE CITY — It’s time for football up on the hill.
Utah opens camp Monday at Ute Field. It’s the first of 25 practices prior to the team’s Aug. 28 season opener against Idaho State at Rice-Eccles Stadium.
The Utes will work their way through the NCAA-mandated “acclimatization” period and not don full pads until Saturday, their first double day of camp.
Even so, things are expected to get quite competitive right away — especially at quarterback.
Utah opens camp with seven scholarship signal-callers, including six eligible to play this season.
Returning starter Travis Wilson tops the depth chart. The 6-foot-7 junior received medical clearance to resume his career after missing the last three games of 2013 when an intracranial artery injury was detected.
Oklahoma transfer Kendal Thompson, redshirt freshmen Conner Manning and Brandon Cox, junior Adam Schulz and incoming freshman Donovan Isom are the quarterbacks competing with Wilson. Thompson, Manning and Schulz are listed on the pre-camp depth chart.
“Everything will sort itself out,” said senior receiver Dres Anderson. “It’s all on performance.”
Andersen added that the Utes have a lot of depth right now at quarterback. They also have a new offensive coordinator in Dave Christensen. The former Missouri assistant and Wyoming head coach, who is well-known for his innovation with the spread attack, has been charged with speeding up Utah’s offense.
After back-to-back 5-7 seasons, though, the Utes’ main objective this year is to make it to a bowl game again. They did so nine straight times before the recent slide.
“The last two years we were one game away,” Whittingham said. “So we’ve got to be better finishers to win a better percentage of those close games. That’s really the bottom line.”
The quest to do so is set to begin.
EXTRA POINTS: All camp practices and scrimmages are closed to the public. ... The initial camp roster of 105 players will not include injured returnees Geoffrey Norwood, Moana Ofahengaue and Daniel Nielson. ... Houston Astros minor league outfielder Wallace Gonzalez is a walk-on freshman tight end. ... Single-game tickets for all six home contests go on sale Monday. ... Utah’s annual fan fest is set for Saturday, Aug. 23 from 6-9 p.m., at the stadium. ... Football season-ticket renewals have reached 98 percent for the fourth-consecutive year. ... There are 31 former Utes — spread over 20 teams — on NFL training camp rosters.