Utah Football Makes Multiple Appearances On Preseason Lists

Mar 10, 2022, 5:40 PM
Cam Rising - Utah Utes vs. Ohio State - Rose Bowl Game...
Cameron Rising #7 of the Utah Utes rushes during the second quarter of the Rose Bowl game against the Ohio State Buckeyes at Rose Bowl Stadium on January 01, 2022 in Pasadena, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
(Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY – Coming off of a historic season, the Utah football program continues to make appearances in preseason lists heading into the 2022 season.

With a good chunk of production returning, particularly on offense, Utah is a favorite to win the Pac-12 once again and even make it to the College Football Playoff.

Here are some of the latest preseason lists that have been post that includes the Utes.

Kyle Whittingham Cracks Top 10 In Best Coaches In College Football

Bruce Feldman of The Athletic and FOX Sports released his top 25 coaches in all of college football. Kyle Whittingham is listed at No. 8, moving up from No. 12 in 2021. Here is what Feldman said about Whittingham.

“The man who produced the most physical team out West never seems to get enough credit. In 2021, the Utes dealt with much adversity, but still responded by going 10-4 and finishing No. 12. It was his eighth Top 25 finish with the Utes — quite a statement considering the program only had two Top 25 finishes in the school’s history before he took over.”

Whittingham is one of three Pac-12 coaches to make the list, joining USC’s Lincoln Riley (No. 6) and UCLA’s Chip Kelly (No. 16)

Stewart Mandel put Whittingham at No. 7 on his list. He is just behind Lincoln Riley. Those are the only coaches to make Mandel’s top 25 from the Pac-12. Here is what Mandel wrote about Whittingham:

“One of the more underappreciated coaches in recent history, Whittingham spent a decade chipping and chipping away until finally breaking through and winning the Pac-12 last season. The Utes are 25-7 in league play since 2018 and have now finished in the Top 25 five times in the past eight seasons.”

Cam Rising Makes QB Ranking From ESPN

Every off-season, Adam Rittenberg of ESPN posts a top 25 list of the best quarterbacks in college football. After not being ranked last season, Cam Rising and Utah was put in the top 15 at No. 14.

They don’t just look at the starter, Rittenberg observes the position group in his power ranking. Here is what Rittenberg said about the Utes’ quarterbacks:

“Despite Utah’s remarkable consistency under coach Kyle Whittingham, projecting the quarterback spot always comes with a hint of trepidation. Other than a few exceptions, the Utes aren’t known for elite quarterback play under Whittingham. But there’s finally some continuity at offensive coordinator with Andy Ludwig, and Rising returns after leading Utah to its first Pac-12 championship and first Rose Bowl appearance. Despite not opening the 2021 season as Utah’s starter, Rising replaced Charlie Brewer and blossomed, completing 63.8% of his passes for 2,493 yards with 20 touchdowns and only five interceptions, and ranking sixth nationally in total QBR (84.2). The Texas transfer likely will lead Utah’s offense through the 2023 season.

“Behind Rising, Utah has Ja’Quinden Jackson, another Texas transfer who was ESPN’s No. 34 recruit in the 2020 class. How Utah uses and develops Jackson will be interesting to monitor. The Utes also have walk-on Bryson Barnes, who delivered some Rose Bowl heroics against Ohio State and could see his role increase. Utah’s likeliest successor to Rising could be Nate Johnson, ESPN’s No. 4 dual-threat quarterback and No. 92 overall recruit for the 2022 class.”

USC (No. 2), UCLA (No. 13), Oregon (No. 19) are the other Pac-12 teams listed in the power ranking.

Utah Football Cracks Top 10 On Two Preseason Rankings

The two latest preseason rankings that were released by national media have the Utes in the top 10. College football analyst Phil Steele has Utah at No. 8 in his top 10. The only other Pac-12 team on his list is Oregon at No. 10.

FOX Sports college football analyst R.J. Young put out his spring football top 10 and has the Utes at No. 8.

Trevor Allen is a Utah Utes Insider for KSLSports.com, Co-Host of Faith, Family and Football podcast with Clark Phillips III and host of the Crimson Corner podcast. Follow him on Twitter: @TrevorASports.

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Utah Football Makes Multiple Appearances On Preseason Lists