Who will start for Utah if Cam Rising cannot? Don’t count out the walk-on.

Three QBs are in competition for the starting job if Rising is unable to play in the opener.

Utah’s football team is about three weeks away from its season-opening game against the Florida Gators. This is a time when major position groups would start sorting themselves out.

For the most part, the Utes are right on schedule. But there’s still a gaping hole on the roster.

“The quarterback situation is still in flux,” coach Kyle Whittingham said earlier this week.

Cam Rising is recovering from an ACL injury he suffered late last season. Coaches said last week that he would be limited to start fall camp. On Monday, Whittingham said Rising has the “exact same restrictions and freedoms” as he did last week.

“Cam is in the mode he’s in until doctors tell us that he can progress from there,” Whittingham said.

There are three players vying for the starting quarterback job while Rising makes his way back onto the field: junior Bryson Barnes, and redshirt freshmen Nate Johnson and Brandon Rose.

Barnes, who walked on to the team in 2020, saw action in 10 games last season and started one, while Johnson appeared in four games. Barnes made a name for himself during the 2022 Rose Bowl when the then-freshman threw a touchdown pass in relief work with Rising sidelined. Barnes also led the Utes to a victory over Washington State last October in a starting role.

Whittingham said Barnes is “making less mistakes” and has been more consistent. The other two quarterbacks, he said, have “bright futures” and “can make some spectacular plays here and there.”

But at this point of fall camp, Barnes, Johnson and Rose are all even in the QB competition.

“There’s trust in all three of those guys,” Whittingham said. “It’s just how they’re going to separate themselves.”

For Barnes, staying the course and focusing on his development are most important. He also implied that he’s not eyeing other programs via the transfer portal.

“I don’t really think about what everybody else is doing — all that transfer portal stuff,” Barnes said. “You can’t focus on Plan B and Plan C. You have to focus on Plan A first.”

Florida State transfer Mycah Pittman, who is vying for one of the top receiver spots, said he and Rising have developed a close relationship. But if it’s not Rising calling the shots when the season begins, he believes there’s plenty of talent across the quarterbacks on the roster.

“We have a bunch of capable guys,” Pittman said. “When it comes time, we’ll see who’s going to be playing. I’ll be pushing for whatever guy is going to be under that center. I’m hoping that they have the best game that they have.”

Whittingham added that he hopes there will be more of a pecking order among the three quarterbacks after about six more practices.

“Our first extensive look at live work will be on Thursday with a scrimmage,” the coach said early in the week, “so hopefully by Monday we will have a pecking order.”

There appears to be some level of confidence, however, that Rising could still play against Florida even if he’s currently physically limited. The reason for that, in part, is the level of familiarity Rising has with the offense, Whittingham said.

“There will be a time when that starts to get a little bit tenuous, though,” Whittingham said. “[If] we get a week out and he’s still not ready to roll, if that happens, then we have to make some decisions.”