Competition at QB spot could be interesting for Utes
Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said all the usual things here at the Pac-12 media day. He talked about how excited he was to participate in the day's festivities ('It's California baby!', he said), talked about the depth the Utes have on the defensive line and talked about the need for more offensive productivity and talked about how the team was focused on the opener against Northern Colorado, not any of the future games. Everything was fairly status quo for him, except in one area. Asked about the quarterback situation and Whittingham, who has always called returning starter Jordan Wynn, "our guy," hedged a bit. Could it be that freshman Travis Wilson, who looked so strong at the end of spring camp, be on the verge of giving Wynn a run for the starting role? It sure sounds like it, after talking to Whittingham Tuesday. Wynn, the fourth-year starter who is still a junior thanks to all the games he has missed due to injuries, has the advantage of more experience, but Wilson could be the future of Utah football. How soon we see that future in action could be decided in fall camp. "Every job is up in the air, that is how it is for all of our positions," Whittingham said. "I wouldn't say we have a quarterback battle, at least not right now, but that is something we can let play itself out. We'll play whoever the best guy is, nothing is set in stone." I still expect Wynn to be the starter when the season begins because he is more experienced, but it sure sounds like Wilson is a tantalizing possibility. Regardless, the Utes feel a whole lot better about their quarterback position than they did last year when Jon Hays filled in for Wynn. In addition to Wilson and Hays, the Utes also have another option in freshman Chase Hansen, the former Lone Peak H.S. star. "We really helped ourselves with that position," Whittingham said. "Last year we were a little thin at that spot and we've turned it around. Travis is pushing Jordan, you bet, but we've also got Chase in the mix as well. We are in a much better situation than we were last year." Wynn very well might be Whittingham's 'guy' right now, but it sure sounds like he likes his other options too. Whittingham said he stood behind Utah athletic director Chris Hill's decision to not schedule BYU in 2014 and 2015, noting the constraints of playing nine conference games made it hard to do so. "It's tough to put together a schedule and something had to give and that is what transpired," Whittingham said. Most of the coaches at the Pac-12 media day were asked to give their thoughts on the situation at Penn State. Whittingham said the focus should be on the victims, not the football program. "I feel for the victims," he said. Part of the NCAA sanctions handed down to Penn State allows players to transfer from the school without penalty. Already, USC is said to be pursing Penn State running back Silas Redd. Whittingham said the Utes would take a look at possibilities too, although he said the Utes have little contact with any of the Penn State players. "Most of them are east coast guys but it's interesting to look at," he said. Whittingham said he expects all of Utah's players to be in camp when it opens next week. In the past, Utah has had some players delayed due to academic issues. "That shouldn't happen this year," he said. "We're in good shape." The lone exception could be running back James Poole, who is transferring to Utah from Saddleback College. The 6-foot-1, 195-pound Poole led the Gauchos in 2011 rushing with 305 yards and four touchdowns. Whittingham can't comment on Poole's situation until he signs with the Utes, but it is expected Poole will add some depth to an already deep position for the Utes. The Utes not only have White returning, but also added junior college transfer Kelvin York and were excited about the way freshman Jarrell Oliver looked in the spring. Former Bingham High star Harvey Langi has left on a mission, a decision Whittingham said he supports fully. "I'm proud he made that commitment," he said. Joining Whittingham at the media day were defensive lineman Star Lotulelei and running back John White. White seemed to be having more fun than Lotulelei, who admits he doesn't like the media spotlight. Lotulelei did say he had fun spending time with the other players, particularly during a bowling event the league sponsored for the players Monday night. "We bowled with (USC quarterback) Matt Barkley and he was a cool guy," Lotulelei said. Lotulelei said the summer workouts have gone well and was impressed with the way the newcomers, particularly junior college transfers Junior Salt (6-2, 330) and Tenny Palepoi (6-2, 305) have looked. The two are listed as possible backups to returner Dave Kruger (6-5, 300). "They both came in in great shape, better shape than I did," he said. Whittingham said the Utes could play eight or nine guys along the defensive line. "We're really excited about our depth there," he said.