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Utah football gets right to work on 2021, lands two QB transfers

Baylor’s Charlie Brewer and Texas’ Ja’Quinden Jackson commit to Utes

Baylor quarterback Charlie Brewer (5) out runs the Kansas State defense for a first down in the first half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Nov. 28, 2020, in Waco, Texas. (Jerry Larson/Waco Tribune-Herald via AP)

It took all of 24 hours after the end of its season for the University of Utah to aggressively put together its quarterback room for the 2021 season.

Late Saturday night, the Utes picked up a commitment from Ja’Quinden Jackson, a transfer from the University of Texas and a former four-star recruit out of Dallas-area power Duncanville High School. On Sunday afternoon, Utah landed a big fish in four-year Baylor starter Charlie Brewer. Jackson and Brewer announced their respective commitments on Twitter.

With the NCAA having frozen the eligibility clock for fall and winter athletes due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Jackson will arrive in Utah next month with true freshman eligibility, while Brewer will be a graduate transfer.

“I’m going to tell you that there’s a really good likelihood that we’ll continue to try and address that position,” Utah head coach Whittingham said Thursday morning of his quarterback situation, on the heels of signing his highest-rated recruiting class ever on Wednesday. “I think we’re going to be able to have a good situation by spring ball.”

Given his experience and collegiate resume to this point, Brewer becomes an automatic threat to start the 2021 opener Sept. 2 vs. in-state FCS Power Weber State. In four seasons and 44 games in Waco, Brewer threw for 9.700 yards, 65 touchdowns and 28 interceptions while completing 63.5% of his passes. Brewer’s 9,700 passing yards are No. 2 all-time at Baylor, while standing as one of only two players to have 10,000 total yards in a career (9,700 passing, 1,039 rushing).

As a true freshman in 2020, Jackson did not take a snap for the Longhorns while rehabbing a knee injury suffered late in his senior season during Duncanville’s run to a second straight Texas Class 6A Division I championship game.

A dual-threat quarterback from the high school Class of 2020, Jackson was rated as the No. 73 overall prospect, No. 3 dual-threat quarterback nationally, and the No. 10 prospect in the state of Texas coming out of Duncanville.

Brewer and Jackson will be joined by four-star 2021 recruit Peter Costelli, giving the Utes three healthy scholarship quarterbacks for spring practice in March, if the COVID-19 pandemic allows it to take place.

Beyond those three, Whittingham has already said he does not expect redshirt sophomore Cameron Rising to be ready for spring ball after undergoing season-ending shoulder surgery following his injury 14 plays into the Nov. 21 opener vs. USC. In the shorter term, the arrival of two quarterbacks from the transfer portal may signal that South Carolina graduate transfer Jake Bentley will not return in 2021, but that remains unofficial.

Bentley started the final four games this season with Rising shelved, but he was inconsistent in completing 62.1% of his passes for 882 yards, six touchdowns and six interceptions. He was benched late in the first half of Saturday’s 45-28 win over Washington State in favor of redshirt senior Drew Lisk.

Whittingham said postgame Saturday that he does not expect Lisk to return for a sixth season, while there is a team meeting scheduled for Tuesday as decisions among seniors eligible to return next begin to get hashed out.

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