One prevailing line of thinking on the University of Utah quarterback competition between Charlie Brewer and Cam Rising was as follows.
Brewer is going to wind up starting for the Utes because, if nothing else, Rising is coming off major surgery to his throwing shoulder, so the timeline for rehabilitation and being 100% for training camp will not allow him to compete at a sufficient-enough level.
Brewer, a graduate transfer from Baylor with 9,700 yards and 65 touchdown passes on his college resume, may still wind up starting for Utah, but it won’t be because Rising is not physically able. In fact, quite the opposite.
Rising underwent that major shoulder surgery, completed rehabilitation, and was not only 100% cleared in time for the start of fall camp on Aug. 4, he has performed well, to the point where Utes head coach Kyle Whittingham said Saturday after Utah’s first scrimmage that the competition is “neck-and-neck” and will go at least another week.
At a minimum, the situation speaks to the toughness and fortitude of Rising, who won the job last fall in a camp competition vs. Jake Bentley before suffering the shoulder injury in the Nov. 21 opener vs. USC.
“Unbelievable to come back from shoulder surgery on his throwing arm and spinning it the way he is, with the accuracy, the velocity,” Utes offensive coordinator Andy Ludwig said after practice on Monday. “It speaks volumes of his relentless rehab, it speaks to the doctors that put him back together.”
Speaking of relentless rehab, Rising offered two interesting nuggets on Monday as he spoke to reporters for the second time this month.
The Ventura, Calif., native said it was about a month before camp, so around early July, that he finally felt there were no more problems, no more limitations, and he was able to go out there and “just let it rip.” That indicates that Rising’s timetable from surgery until the point of no more problems was approximately eight months.
There were times during rehabilitation, Rising said, where he would have to be held back from doing too much. On one particular day, he would be allowed 30 throws. He would get through those 30 throws, want to do more, but had to be talked down. Rising trusted the rehabilitation plan, stuck with it, and to him, that was the hardest part of those eight months.
“My teammates make it easy to come out and work,” Rising said. “Whenever I needed a guy to throw to, they would always come out there with me. That made it easy for me. Just having them around was the good part.”
Whittingham reiterated Monday that a quarterback decision would not be coming before Utah scrimmages for a second and final time on Saturday at Rice-Eccles Stadium. The hope then is to have a decision made not long after, potentially by the beginning of next week.
Saturday’s scrimmage will mark 12 days until the Utes open the season on Sept. 2 against in-state FCS power Weber State at Rice-Eccles Stadium.
“All I can do is control what I can control, and that’s to improve every day, don’t make the same mistake twice, and just keep getting better,” Brewer said. “Orchestrate the offense and don’t worry about anything else. I think everything will fall into place.”
Utes ranked No. 24 in AP Top 25 to open season
When Utah plays Weber State on Sept. 2, it will be ranked.
The Utes are ranked No. 24 in the preseason Associated Press Top 25 Poll, which was released Monday. This marks the fifth time Utah has appeared in the preseason AP Poll, which has been conducted since 1950. The AP Poll, which has been in existence since 1936, is voted on weekly by 62 sportswriters and broadcasters from across the country.
Utah is one of five Pac-12 teams to open the season ranked. Two-time, defending Pac-12 champion Oregon is No. 11, USC is 15, Washington is 20, and Arizona State is 25.
The Utes will play the Trojans Oct. 9 at the LA Coliseum in what could be a critical Pac-12 South game, followed by the Sun Devils at Rice-Eccles Stadium on Oct. 16. The Ducks visit Salt Lake City on Nov. 20.
UTAH RANKED IN PRESEASON AP TOP 25
2004: Preseason No. 20, finished No. 4
2009: Preseason No. 19, finished No. 18
2019: Preseason No. 14, finished No. 16
2020: Preseason No. 11, finished unranked
2021: Preseason No. 24, finished TBD