Once Troy Williams reached the final step behind the Eccles Football Center, he looked out at the scrum waiting to inquire about the latest tough break in a football career filled with them. The senior quarterback could do nothing but flash a smile.

“This ain’t nothing new to me,” Williams said. “You can’t break me no matter what you do to me, what you tell me, no matter what it is.”

Offensive coordinator Troy Taylor sat down Williams a few days prior and broke the news that sent shock waves throughout Utah’s fan base. The 22-year-old senior, who a week ago again was voted a team captain by his teammates, was flung into familiar yet dreaded territory.

A new offensive regime was going in another direction, this time with sophomore quarterback Tyler Huntley as the program’s new full-time starter.

“I feel like I had a great camp,” Williams said. “I feel like I was doing everything I was supposed to do, but you know, things ain’t really fall in my place.”

The Carson, Calif., native threw for 2,757 yards, 15 touchdowns and eight interceptions in his first year at Utah in 2016. In all, Williams accounted for 20 touchdowns and helped lead the Utes to a 9-4 record and another bowl victory. Following the final scrimmage of fall camp Saturday, Taylor informed both quarterbacks and coach Kyle Whittingham what he envisioned.


June 2012 • Williams, a four-star recruit at Narbonne High (Calif.), commits to Washington.

February 2013 • Williams officially signs with UW, becoming Steve Sarkisian’s third four-star QB in two years.

December 2013 • Sarkisian is hired by USC; Chris Petersen is hired to replace him at UW.

October 2014 • Williams makes his first and only start, a 24-10 loss to Arizona State.

January 2015 • Williams transfers from Washington, announces his intention to play for Santa Monica (Calif.) College.

December 2015 • Williams signs with Utah, joins program in January to play in spring ball.

August 2016 • Williams wins starting QB job and is voted team captain at Utah.

August 2017 • Williams voted team captain at Utah but is supplanted as team’s starting QB by sophomore Tyler Huntley.

Huntley’s QB No.1.

“You’ve got to go with who wins the job, and Tyler edged [Williams] out,” Whittingham said. “It’s only fair. I mean, if you beat a guy out, you beat a guy out.”

Taylor said Williams understandably was heartbroken to hear the decision that garnered national attention. A senior quarterback and Utah’s first back-to-back team captain since Brian Johnson in 2007 and 2008 is now relegated to a backup role.

“The thing is, it’s not that I don’t believe in him,” Taylor said. “I really know he can play. He’s done it before, and he can come in and be a great quarterback in this conference and might have to still for us.”

Williams arrived in Utah after a standout season at Santa Monica (Calif.) College in 2015. He returned home to Southern California after an emotional exit at Washington. Williams, a former four-star prized recruit of one-time coach Steve Sarkisian, eventually left the Huskies upon the coaching change in Seattle where, he said a year ago, he felt unwanted.

This is a new trial for him, but a complex one, nonetheless.

“Just got to keep grinding,” Williams said.

“There’s no better teammate than Troy,” junior safety Chase Hansen said. “He’s one of my favorite guys.”

Life on the headset will take some getting used to. Williams will be forced to make that awkward walk out to midfield in Utah’s season-opener against North Dakota on Aug. 31, knowing that once the coin is flipped and the special teamers take their place to kick off the 2017 campaign, he’ll be aiding Huntley in his first career start on the east sideline inside Rice-Eccles Stadium.

“It’s always team first,” he said.

“I don’t wish nothing bad upon Tyler,” Williams added. “I hope he go out there and do his thing, but when my number is called, I’m going to make sure I’m ready.”

Both Whittingham and Taylor noted that they want Huntley, who has thrown seven passes in his collegiate career, to not worry about peering over his shoulder at a proven Pac-12 winner.

The job, the coaches said, is his. But with Huntley’s natural gifts as a running option in Taylor’s offense, the risk of getting banged up increases each time the former Florida Gatorade Player of the Year darts off into the teeth of an opposing defense.

“He’ll get some shots this year,” Whittingham said about Williams. “You very seldom get through a year with one quarterback. It’s the exception rather than the rule these days, and so he’s got to be ready.”

Williams will be, he vows.

This is it for him, a senior captain tasked with once again proving himself against the odds in his final go as a college quarterback.

“It’s going to build even more fire,” he said.