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Utah’s football program has produced several defensive stars who arrived on campus as quarterbacks, but here’s a twist. Jason Shelley, who started the last five games of the 2018 season after quarterback Tyler Huntley was injured, likely will move to defense in the spring, Ute coach Kyle Whittingham said during a signing day news conference Wednesday.

Shelley seemingly confirmed the plan when he tweeted, “Surprise!”

Utah’s next media availability is Friday. The Tribune’s Josh Newman will have a thorough analysis of the Utes’ 2020 quarterback situation this weekend.

Other former quarterbacks such as Chad Manis, Paul Kruger, Brian Blechen and Chase Hansen made the successful move to defense earlier in their Ute careers. Shelley has two years of eligibility remaining.

The Ute basketball team made the athletic department’s biggest news Wednesday. Utah’s history vs. Kentucky and the future of the program with only freshmen and sophomores taking the court made the Utes’ 69-66 victory in Las Vegas especially meaningful. It also improved the outlook of the present. The team that lost to Coastal Carolina and Tulane in a tournament last month suddenly is 9-2, thanks to Utah’s response after losing a 17-point lead in the second half, as Newman detailed.

In the buildup to the game, Newman explained the home-and-neutral agreement with Kentucky and quoted Wildcat coach John Calipari’s recollections of the late Rick Majerus.

Newman also had updated the health of Ute guard Rylan Jones, who ended up playing 38 minutes in Las Vegas.

Playing without Jones last Saturday, the Utes were less crisp offensively in a win over Weber State. That win at Vivint Smart Home Arena was part of the last Beehive Classic, as Newman analyzed.

Ute women’s basketball coach Lynne Roberts was denied in her first attempt to reach the 300-win mark for her career, as the Utes lost to Providence on Monday. The milestone should come Friday, when the Utes host Weber State at noon to conclude their nonconference schedule.

The Utah women’s volleyball team’s best season of the Pac-12 era was recognized with a first-team All-America award for junior Dani Drews and second-team honors for senior Berkeley Oblad and junior Kenzie Koerber.

Returning to football, the Utes continue preparing for the Dec. 31 Alamo Bowl vs. Texas. Junior cornerback Jaylon Johnson has chosen to end his college career now, but the Ute seniors intend to play in San Antonio. Tribune columnist Gordon Monson endorsed Johnson’s decision.

Among those seniors are linebacker Francis Bernard and safety Terrell Burgess, who distinguished themselves as one-year starters in the Pac-12.

Ute defensive coordinator Morgan Scalley will have a challenge replacing those seniors, as well as getting a makeshift secondary ready for Texas.

Other voices

Here’s an angle on the Utah-Kentucky game from the Lexington Herald-Leader (LEX).

Pac-12 expert Jon Wilner credits the Utah football coaching staff for developing talent, far more so than USC (MERC).

Christopher Kamrani of The Athletic captures Scalley’s aura in Utah’s program (ATH).

Texas may have more motivation than Utah in the Alamo Bowl, a Fansided writer suggests (FAN).