Breaking Down Utah Football’s 2023 Position Groups: Quarterback

Aug 1, 2023, 3:33 PM

SALT LAKE CITY – Fall camp is here for Utah football, and it makes sense to wrap up this series taking a look at the position group that could make or break Utes’ 2023 season- quarterback.

Everyone knows Utah’s starter in Cam Rising is pretty dang good. He’s led Utah football to their back-to-back Pac-12 Titles and Rose Bowl appearances in 2021 and 2022. Rising has the opportunity to help the Utes to a third title in 2023 (something no Pac-12 team has ever done) and who knows what else if they play their cards right.

Everyone also knows Rising is coming off of a pretty serious injury- an ACL tear he sustained in the Rose Bowl against Penn State. Outside of the condensed 2020 schedule, Rising has mostly made it through two full seasons for the Utes, but injuries in both Rose Bowls have emphasized the importance of having the backups ready to go.


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Where Things Stand With Cam Rising’s Injury Recovery

The good news is that while Rising’s injury was serious and happened at an in-opportune time that put him on a tough deadline, it appears things have been going well and he’s on schedule.

At Pac-12 Media Day, Rising gave a positive update on where things stand with him and his knee.

Additionally, during the first media availability for Utah’s fall camp, both head coach Kyle Whittingham and offensive coordinator Andy Ludwig echoed their starter’s optimism.

Andy Ludwig’s Report On Cam Rising’s Recovery

“He will be very limited this first week,” Ludwig said of Rising. “We’ll get a feel for where he is health-wise, but he is cleared to move and throw and drop. He’s going to get some work there, but we’re just really going to try and limit team type of plays where he has to have sudden reactions. He will get a lot of throws early in this camp.”

Ludwig also added they have full confidence in Rising’s ability to be ready to go based off of his prior work ethic and the amount of quality reps he’s taken for the Utes in the past as the starter.

“Cam is obviously a proven commodity,” Ludwig said. “He’s got a ton of quality reps under his belt and is just a premier player at that position. We have a lot of confidence in his ability- maybe not to pick up exactly where he left off, but he is a really good player.”

Whittingham’s Rising Update

“He’s practicing, but he’ll have limitations,” Whittingham said. “That will pretty much be the report for at least a couple of weeks- practicing with limitations. Hopefully some of those limitations get lifted as we deeper into camp, but today was a good start and we’ve just got to be intelligent about it. We’ve got a great medical staff and I’m sure they’ll do exactly what is right for him.”

Who Is Behind Cam Rising On The Quarterback Depth Chart?

*Bolded names indicate significant experience.

  • Bryson Barnes, Junior, has been the the backup the past two seasons, played in three games (Weber State, Colorado, vs. Ohio State) in 2021 and 10 games in 2022 with one start, going 37-of-57 passing (2 INT, 4 TD) for 430 yards, adding 20 carries for 116 yards.
  • Nate Johnson, Redshirt Freshman, play in four games in 2022, recording one completion for a 16-yard touchdown and five rushes for 51 yards and two touchdowns.
  • Mack Howard, Freshman, three-star quarterback out of Oxford HS, ranked by 247Sports as the No. 48 quarterback in the country and No. 20 player in Mississippi.
  • Brandon Rose, Redshirt Freshman, did not see action in 2022 but has been the favorite for the backup job out of spring ball.

Whittingham’s Thoughts On The Quarterback Battle Behind Cam Rising

Expect the QBs behind Rising to continue getting a lot of work in as he gets back up to speed off of the injury. The vibe talking to Whittingham seems early on to reflect Utah knows they can do something special, but a little extra preparation behind Rising will go a long way to achieving those goals.

“Outside of quarterback, the biggest focus would be quarterback,” Whittingham said. “Then it would be quarterback again. I can’t think of anything that is even close to that right now as far as making sure in the event that Cam can’t go, we have the right guy who can start the game. That supersedes everything. ”

Michelle Bodkin is the Utah Utes Insider for KSLsports.com and host of both the Crimson Corner Podcast (SUBSCRIBE) and The Saturday Show (Saturday from 10 a.m.–12 p.m.) on The KSL Sports Zone. Follow her on TwitterInstagram, and Threads: @BodkinKSLsports

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Breaking Down Utah Football’s 2023 Position Groups: Quarterback