The University of Utah quarterbacks room is undergoing a radical shift with Power Five transfers Charlie Brewer and Ja’Quinden Jackson entering the fray, but Cameron Rising is the incumbent.
The redshirt sophomore won the starting job last season, out-dueling Jake Bentley late in fall camp to get the nod in the Nov. 21 season-opener vs. USC. Rising lasted all of 14 offensive snaps, though, suffering a season-ending shoulder injury while trying to recover his own fumble.
Rising underwent surgery to repair the shoulder injury and continues to go through rehabilitation as spring practice begins to unfold without him. Utes head coach Kyle Whittingham has ruled Rising out for the spring, so he has no choice but to continue rehab, not to mention wait for his turn to come back around.
“It definitely wasn’t an ideal situation, but it happened and I’m here now,” Rising said Monday on a Zoom call, sounding upbeat during his first session with the media since Oct. 12. “I’m focused on getting back and that’s my only goal right now. I don’t really worry about what happened, I can only control what I can control.
“Rehab is coming along great, getting better each and every day, and just been taking advantage of the time in the treatment room,” he added. “It’s been good and I think, come summer, I should be back.”
Whittingham ruled Rising out for the spring, but his expectation is the Ventura, Calif. native will be ready for fall camp ahead of Utah’s Sept. 2 opener vs. Weber State at Rice-Eccles Stadium. Assuming Rising is ready to go for camp, Whittingham has made clear that this latest Utah quarterbacks competition will wait for Rising. Nothing will be decided this spring, but rather deep into the summer, as was the case last season.
Brewer and Jackson have the hype, and four-star early enrollee Peter Costelli will also get his shot this spring, but Rising has been here before. Not only did he go through a QB competition last summer, but this will be his third year at Utah, not to mention his third year under Utes offensive coordinator Andy Ludwig.
That amount of longevity makes Rising the elder statesman in the quarterbacks room, which makes him a valuable commodity to Brewer, Jackson, and Costelli as those three try to grasp Ludwig’s offense, which he indicated on Monday will not include “radical changes or adjustments to what we’re doing.”
“This is my third year here now, so helping these guys any way I can, any of the subtle nuances we have in the offense here, rather than where they came from,” Rising said. “Whatever they have, whatever they need, I just try to give help wherever I can.
“Competition drives me. It’s the reason I play football, it’s the reason I love football, because you’re always continuing to try and get better, and having a great quarterbacks room is only going to drive me to be better and drive those guys to be better,” he added.