Jason Shelley, once considered a contender to be the University of Utah’s starting quarterback, now is the heir apparent to Jordan Love at Utah State.
The Aggies announced Monday that Shelley will join the USU program this fall as a junior and is immediately eligible. The 5-foot-11, 200-pound player out of Frisco, Texas, is the grandson of Phillip Shelley, who played safety for the Aggies in the early 1970s.
Jason Shelley will likely enter as the frontrunner in what had been a four-man competition to fill the sizable shoes left by Love. One of the most heralded quarterbacks in USU history, Love was drafted and signed by the NFL’s Green Bay Packers this spring and is expected to eventually take over for Aaron Rodgers.
Shelley started five games for the Utes in 2018, filling in successfully when starter Tyler Huntley went down in November with a broken collarbone. Shelley led Utah to wins vs. Oregon and at Colorado to help secure the program’s first Pac-12 South title. In the regular-season finale, Shelley’s 33-yard touchdown run with 1:43 left capped a 21-point fourth quarter as the Utes outlasted BYU, 35-27.
When Huntley returned in 2019, Shelley was listed as the co-No. 2 next to redshirt junior Drew Lisk. He saw action as QB in 10 games, but in the Alamo Bowl he was asked to play safety.
In his time at Utah, Shelley completed 104 of 179 pass attempts for 1,205 yards and six touchdown passes. He also ran for four touchdowns. He was briefly considered one of two players vying for the Utes’ starting spot in 2020 alongside Cameron Rising. Yet when Jake Bentley transferred from South Carolina to Utah on Dec. 9, that changed. He was taken out of the running as the signal caller and moved to safety. On Feb. 7, Shelley announced he would be entering the transfer portal.
By joining the Aggies, he breaks up a juggernaut of potential QBs. As Love’s backup the past two seasons, junior Henry Colombi has the most name recognition among USU fans. He has appeared in 13 games, though started none, and is 53 of 59 for 460 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. Sophomore Andrew Peasley and redshirt freshmen Cooper Legas and Josh Calvin also were in contention for the spot.
The Aggies were scheduled to start the season at Washington State on Sept. 3, but that game was wiped off the slate when Pac-12 teams agreed to play only conference opponents in 2020. USU’s first game is now scheduled for Sept. 12 in Logan against Southern Utah.