SALT LAKE CITY — Utah senior Tyler Huntley insists there isn’t going to be any sort of quarterback controversy this spring. As far as he’s concerned nothing is going to change.
“I’m the starter and there you have it,” Huntley said. “It’s that simple.”
Although he added that Jason Shelley, Drew Lisk and Cameron Rising are all good players, Huntley made his opinion clear: “It’s my job.”
Huntley has started 19 games during the past two seasons. He’s completed 354 of 553 passes for 4,259 yards with 27 touchdowns and 16 interceptions. The dual-threat quarterback also has 856 career rushing yards and 11 scores to his credit.
Utah coach Kyle Whittingham acknowledged that Huntley is the No. 1 guy right now.
“So I guess technically and by definition he’s the starter if we had to play tomorrow,” Whittingham said. “But I think everybody in this program understands that it’s what you’ve done lately and you’ve got to continue to compete and you’ve got to continue to produce and if that doesn’t happen you get replaced. But having that confidence and that swagger, I guess you could say, is a positive thing.”
New offensive coordinator Andy Ludwig likes all of the quarterbacks.
“They’re good players, highly motivated and they’ve got a lot of potential,” he said. “So they’’re doing a good job, just got to continue to move forward.”
Spring ball, thus far, has consisted of just three practices. The Utes resume sessions Tuesday.
“Things are going to pick up here when we get back from spring break,” said Ludwig, who noted that the quarterbacks have done a nice job with the install. New terminology is being introduced and the snap count has changed a little bit.
The Utes, Ludwig explained, have a rotation order. Huntley is getting most of the reps with the ones. Shelley is also taking snaps with the group and Lisk is also getting some opportunities.
Ludwig said he’s not really worrying about naming a starter right now. They’re just working to learn a system through spring ball.
Whittingham has similar thoughts.
“There's so little of the offense installed right now that it’s tough to get a real beat on how they’re progressing because it’s just in the infancy stages,” he said. “But when we get back from spring break and about a week or two after that, then we’ll start to get a good idea who is sorting things out and absorbing things.”
Shelley admitted that it’s kind of like studying for a test. The sophomore, who played in nine games last season and made five starts, threw for 1,162 yards last season — completing 98 of 168 passes with five touchdowns and six interceptions. He ran for 192 yards and three TDs.
“I feel pretty good. I’m pretty comfortable,” Shelley said. “I know what to expect now.”
After starting in such high-profile contests like the Pac-12 championship game and the Holiday Bowl, Shelley said he’s “pretty confident” going into the season. As such, he’ll always be pushing.
“That’s why you’re here. You’ve got to compete,” Shelley said. “You’ve got to earn your spot. You’ve got to win.”
Joining Huntley, Shelley and Lisk this spring is Rising, a transfer from Texas. Shelley said Rising has a big strong arm and is very smart.
“He just joined into the family and he’s competing with us,” Shelley said.
Rising redshirted last season, but has filed an appeal with the NCAA to become immediately eligible as a freshman. He cited educational reasons for the request, noting that Texas does not offer studies in his preferred major of criminology.
Rising said he has no idea how things will turn out. He could end up having to sit out this season because of NCAA transfer rules and be a sophomore for the Utes in 2020.
“I’m expecting the worst and hoping for the best, pretty much,” Rising said. “That’s how I’ve been treating it.”
The former California prep star is making an impression with his new team.
“It’s still really early but so far Cam is showing the he has a strong arm,” Whittingham said. “That is without question. He’s a smart kid. He’s picking things up well.”17 comments on this story
Ludwig told reporters that Rising is very motivated and has a high football IQ, adding that he’s doing a good job picking up Utah’s system. Rising didn’t get a lot of reps over the first three practices, but Ludwig said he looks for that to pick up as the Utes get to the latter part of spring ball.
Whittingham said a definite plan on how to distribute the reps this spring won’t be decided until Rising’s eligibility is clarified. That, he added, will probably come in a week or two.
In the meantime, Rising is enjoying everything — except the weather.
“So far, so good. I love it, just getting used to the cold a little bit,” said Rising, who noted that the other quarterbacks in the program are good guys. “Everything’s been going smooth and I love competing with them.”