Utah football: Jordan Wynn quietly working behind the scenes
Utah quarterback Jordan Wynn still isn't talking to media members, having consistently turned down media requests ever since he suffered a season-ending shoulder injury against Washington.
While his refusal to publicly discuss his rehab probably is frustrating to Utah fans who would like assurance the quarterback is well on his way to being 100 percent again, Wynn is on track and has made enough progress that coach Kyle Whittingham feels good about Wynn's recovery and his future with the Utes.
"It is his non-throwing shoulder, unlike the first one, so that is a night and day difference for a quarterback," Whittingham said. "If he played another position it obviously would be a bigger factor than quarterback. But we fully expect a complete recovery."
Still, the Utes aren't banking totally on Wynn's ability to survive a season. The Utes have commitments from two high school quarterbacks: Chase Hansen of Lone Peak High, and Travis Wilson out of San Clemente, Calif. Hansen is supposed to go on an LDS Church mission before enrolling, but Wilson is expected to compete for the backup job along with junior Jon Hays. The Utes are also keeping feelers open for other possible quarterbacks, offensive coordinator Norm Chow said.
"In this league, you need three or four quarterbacks," he said.
Even though he might be silent, Wynn hasn't been idle since the Oct. 1 injury.
A constant figure at practice, Wynn has continued to be a valuable part of the team, coaches and players say. He has worked with quarterback Jon Hays and given input to the receivers.
"You always see him around he is the face of the team," running back John White said. "It was my first year with him and I only had four games with him, but I learned how much he knows and he helps everyone."
He has helped himself, too. Already well-versed in Utah's offense as the anointed starting quarterback, Wynn watched Utah's games alongside Chow at Chow's request.
"Sitting in the box with me, he sees things and he recognizes what is going on even more now," Chow said. "He'll talk to Jon every once in a while. It helps him a lot. He understands the play-calling more and why we do what we do."
Rather than emphasizing a strong arm, Wynn made a point of pulling himself back a bit in 2011 and going for accuracy and good decision making.
The offense didn't please Whittingham in the opener as Wynn was just 15 for 23 for 101 yards in a 27-10 win over Montana State, a game that Whittingham called "abysmal" for the offense.
However, Wynn threw for more than 200 yards in Utah's next two games and was having one of his best days against Washington, going 12 for 17 for 149 yards, before the shoulder injury prevented him from returning in the second half.
"I thought he was playing his best ball in that game right before he got hurt," Utah quarterbacks coach Brian Johnson said. "It may have been his best as a Ute, as long as he has been here. He was going lights out and getting his confidence back and arm strength back and then he got hurt again. That definitely put a damper on it."
Johnson knows what it is like to come back from injuries, having redshirted in 2006 while recovering from a season-ending knee injury. He also knows that people are skeptical of Wynn's ability to last a season, and he felt sympathy for the quarterback earlier in the year when Wynn was getting booed at times.
Johnson went through a similar situation before leading the Utes to an undefeated season in 2008 and setting a school record for wins with a 26-7 record.
"It's the nature of the beast," Johnson said. "There are high expectations for quarterbacks, and he has experienced some good times and rough losses as well. But he has the ability and character to keep pushing, and he has done that."
Johnson believes Wynn will return better and stronger than ever, particularly since he has used his time off the field to hone his quarterback skills in other ways.
"When you sit out, you see how the plays and offense develop from a different perspective," Johnson said. "He is out here every day learning and wants to get back as soon as possible. I can't wait for him to get back." Jordan Wynn
Opponent Comp Att Yds TDs
Montana St 15 23 101 2
USC 23 46 238 1
BYU 16 30 239 2
Washington 12 17 149