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Matt Piper and Kyle Goon cover University of Utah sports teams for The Salt Lake Tribune. Matt Piper is on twitter at @matthew_piper, Kyle Goon is on twitter at @kylegoon

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Competition for backup role at QB down to two for Utes

Even with Jordan Wynn returning in strong form and freshman Travis Wilson showing he has the talents to play as a rookie, Utah senior quarterback Jon Hays is still managing to stand out as he had yet another good day of practice Monday.

Hays, who started for the Utes after Wynn suffered his season-ending injury last year, made several nice throws in Monday's session. He might not have enough skills to push for a starting role, but he is holding his own in camp and has kept the battle for the backup spot open between he and Wilson.

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"He is a guy who just won't go away," Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said of Hays. "He took a back seat in spring so we could get a good look at the other guys, but he is in the thick of it now."

Whittingham said Wilson and Hays will continue to get equal amount of reps until one separates himself from the other.

"It's a heated competition so both of them are getting as much reps as we can give them."

Hays went 6-3 as the starter for the Utes and completed 120-of214 passes for 1,459 yards and 12 touchdowns, along with eight interceptions.

The competition for the backup role has one less guy involved as Whittingham announced freshman Chase Hansen will have shoulder surgery on Wednesday.

Hansen will go on a mission in December so the Utes want him to start the rehabilitation process as soon as possible.

Hansen, the former star at Lone Peak High, hasn't participated in camp due to the injury that has bothered Hansen frequently in recent months.

"It was the doctors' recommendation," Whittingham said. "They felt like there was enough to go in and fix, particularly with him going on a mission they want to get it strengthened so we followed their lead."

Aside from Hays, others who stood out in Monday's practice were Star Lotulelei and corner Mo Lee. Corner Ryan Lacy also made a nice interception of a pass by Jordan Wynn.

"On Day 4 typically the inexperienced guys hit a wall mentally, the install mounts up and we saw that today in the twos and threes, guys who haven't been here a long time," Whittingham said. "That is to be expected. They have to hit the books, study on their own time and get up to speed."

Receiver Anthony Denham and offensive lineman Vyncent Jones were sidelined at the end of practice with injuries. Jones had a pulled hamstring. Denham has tendinintis in his knee, an issue that is adding to Denham's long injury-related past. A four-star recruit out of East L.A. College, Denham redshirted last year after he suffered a hamstring injury. He also had thumb surgery in the spring.

"He has made strides and he is a good player, but he has to be on the field more to help us obviously," Whittingham said.

The Utes' only notable change on the new depth chart is Jeremiah Poutasi, a freshman out of Las Vegas, has moved into the co-backup role at left tackle with freshman Kala Friel.

Nate Fakahafua, who is projected to start at left end, was on the field Monday after missing the start of camp to take care of some family issues.


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