Spenser Heaps
Utah Utes quarterback Tyler Huntley (1) wears a sling before the game against the Oregon Ducks at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City on Saturday, Nov. 10, 2018.

SALT LAKE CITY — Although not cleared for contact, Utah quarterback Tyler Huntley is practicing once again. The junior, who hasn’t played since suffering a collarbone injury in a 38-20 loss at Arizona State on Nov. 3, was on the field with the Utes Friday afternoon.

“I haven’t really, like, 'practiced' practiced but just working my way into individual reps and just working my way back in it,” said Huntley, who was then asked if he expected to be the starter when Utah faces Northwestern in the Holiday Bowl on Dec. 31. “We’ll see. I’m still not clear for contact yet. So we’re just working our way through it.”

Huntley acknowledged that it has been tough watching his teammates play without him.

“I want to play,” he said. “But my team did a great job of getting to the championship. It was a tough loss but we’re going to bounce back and win a bowl game.”

The team captain, who started the first nine games of the season, reminded reporters that his return is still questionable.

“So I’m not getting my hopes too high. But still working through rehab,” said Huntley, who added that rehab and the healing process have been going well. “So we’re working on that.”

If cleared for contact, Huntley admits he’d be happy to play. The injury was on his non-throwing side. He’s been throwing balls for a couple of days now and I feeling good.

“If they clear me then it’s a go,” Huntley said. “Then if they don ‘t clear me, I understand — we’ve got a whole another year next year. So I’m just prepared for it all and we’re just working.”

Redshirt freshman Jason Shelley stepped into the starting role when Huntley was injured and quarterbacked the Utes to wins over Oregon, Colorado and BYU before the Pac-12 championship game loss to Washington. He said it “was just like normal” to have Huntley back. They practiced, had fun and learned from each other.

As for starting in San Diego, Shelley explained his stance.

“I always prepare to start,” he said. “So I’m expecting to start and if it doesn’t happen then I’m just going to keep my mindset ready.”

Utah coach Kyle Whittingham noted that Huntley was very involved in practice. The plan is to work him in and see how much he can progress.

1 comment on this story

“There’s no decision right now on whether he’ll be able to play or not in the bowl game,” Whittingham said. “He’s out there and that’s a good thing.”

When pressed if Huntley would be the starter if cleared to play, Whittingham didn’t reveal Utah’s hand.

“To be determined,” he said. ”Both of those — if he’s cleared and if he’s the starter.”


2018 Holiday Bowl

No. 17 Utah (9-4) vs. No. 22 Northwestern (8-5)

SDCCU Stadium ­ — San Diego, Calif.

Monday, Dec. 31, 5 p.m. (MT)


Radio: ESPN 700AM