Utah QB Bryson Barnes beat Florida. Now he can quit his job at Lowe’s

The former walk-on is given a full ride following his second start and second win, as offensive coordinator Andy Ludwig notes, “He’s our guy right now.”

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) Utah Utes quarterback Bryson Barnes (16) runs for a touchdown as the Utah Utes host the Florida Gators, NCAA football in Salt Lake City on Thursday, Aug. 31, 2023.

There has been much said and written about the job that walk-on quarterback Bryson Barnes has done as a fill-in starter for the Utah football team.

But there won’t be anymore.

Not because Barnes won’t start again — that very much remains on the table with Cam Rising still working his way back from injury.

No, it’s just that the “walk-on” part isn’t applicable anymore. Barnes was put on scholarship following last Thursday’s season-opening win against Florida.

Head coach Kyle Whittingham was asked during his Monday morning media availability whether there were plans to give Barnes a full ride now that he’s started and won two games (Barnes famously got the nod less than an hour before kickoff vs. Washington State last season).

Whittingham gave what was, in that moment, a slightly confusing answer.

“Yeah, he is on scholarship. He is on scholarship,” Whittingham said. “Good question — how’d you know that? You leading me on? You baiting me?”

Wait — had we been missing something?

Turns out, it was new news.

Barnes confirmed Monday evening after the Utes’ practice that he’d been awarded a scholarship after the victory over the Gators.

“I mean, it definitely helps a lot,” he said. “You know, you don’t have to worry about paying for school, I don’t have to go back to Lowe’s and work a part-time job anymore. So definitely some perks to that, for sure.”

Asked if his mom and dad were happy, Barnes replied, “I guarantee they’re happy.”

He said that ever since Rising tore his ACL in the Rose Bowl, he’s been preparing with the knowledge that he might get a chance to start.

He filled in capably for Rising against Penn State, then has been putting in the work ever since to prove he warrants continued opportunities.

“The situation had already been set in January, with Cam being out. You kind of have an idea of ACL injuries and the recovery time with things like that,” Barnes said. “So I definitely kind of knew since January the situation that was already brewing. That’s been the back of my mind since January, understanding what’s at stake and what the future may hold.”

Barnes did wind up starting vs. Florida, and splitting time with redshirt freshman Nate Johnson in the 24-11 win this past Thursday at ice-Eccles Stadium.

He had several highlight plays, including a 70-yard touchdown pass to Money Parks on the Utes’ first play from scrimmage, and a five-yard touchdown rush in the third quarter.

“Yeah, I’m proud of Bryson — I’m not surprised,” said offensive coordinator Andy Ludwig. “No one’s more invested than Bryson Barnes. He’s shown continual improvement through his career here, and he’s our guy right now. I’m very proud of the way he played. But we’re looking to get better. He’s got to get better as we all do.”

Barnes will unquestionably keep working to improve.

Which might even be a little easier now that he doesn’t also have to be working at Lowe’s.