When the COVID-19 pandemic shut down Utah spring practice in mid-March, Cameron Rising had an early leg up in the Utes’ spring/summer quarterback competition with Jake Bentley and Drew Lisk.
In hindsight, that was to be expected. Rising spent the 2019 season in residence after the NCAA denied his immediate-eligibility waiver. Instead of being eligible right away, Rising ran the scout team, while working with first-year offensive coordinator Andy Ludwig. Rising even spent home game days in the Rice-Eccles Stadium press box to gain a better understanding of the offense and how Ludwig calls a game.
“It’s been great, something I don’t take for granted,” Rising told The Salt Lake Tribune via phone last week from his home in Ventura, Calif., which remains under a stay-well-at-home order through the end of the month. “How much I saw last season, it was mind-boggling at times how much work really goes into a game day. Seeing him call a game, experiencing that, I got to see how Coach Ludwig acts and I think that can only benefit me.”
Rising may have impressed in the early days of spring ball, but that means little anymore. At this point, the quarterback situation at Utah is unsettled. It will remain so until everyone is back on campus and going through whatever ramp-up and training camp is allowed ahead of the season.
“I felt like things were going well and I was ready to keep it going,” Rising said. “We’d just gotten pads on and I was itching to get back after it after spring break. I wanted to keep working with the team. A lot of development was happening and we all could have used as many reps as possible.
“We all just need to hang in there and make sure we hit the ground running when we come back. No hitches or anything like that, get back to work and get better.”
Like Bentley, Rising is up early to get to work. He’ll have some breakfast, he’ll get a little jump roping in, then hit Zoom for a 9:30 meeting. He’ll get a lift in at his house and three times per week, he treks over to nearby Buena High School to get some throwing in with a few local junior college players as receivers in tow.
For what it’s worth, Rising and Bentley have both been able to get throwing done during the pandemic, but under different circumstances.
Bentley’s home state of South Carolina has eased stay-at-home restrictions, allowing him and his family more freedom to, for example, show up at a local field and get a workout in. California’s stay-at-home restrictions have been among the most aggressive in the country. In turn, Rising said he’s had to hop the fence at Buena.
“Spring is spring, but the greatest gains in passing are made in June and July when the players take the system over,” Ludwig told The Tribune. “Throwing on their own, going through the route tree, developing chemistry. That will be the biggest challenge when we come back, where will the chemistry between the quarterbacks and wide receivers be.
“We’re not going to be at ground zero, but pretty close.”
“When I get my reps, I need to try and take advantage of every single one, treat them all like a game time situation,” Rising said. “I’ve gone against some great defenses. I was the scout team QB against one of the best defenses in the nation last year, I was at Texas the year before, so I’ve gone against some pretty good competition.”
CAMERON RISING AT A GLANCE
Personal: 6-foot-2, 225 pounds, redshirt sophomore
On the move: Transferred from Texas in 2019; took redshirt at Texas in 2018
High school: Former four-star recruit from Newbury Park (Calif.) High School
This spring: Involved in quarterback competition with graduate transfer Jake Bentley and senior Drew Lisk