Here’s what Cam Rising and Brant Kuithe said about returning to Utah football

Rising and Kuithe were injured for all of last season.

(Eli Rehmer | Utah Athletics) Quarterback Cameron Rising participates in Utah football practice Tuesday, March 12, 2024.

Cam Rising looked down the field, saw an open man and let the football fly. In the end zone was Brant Kuithe, watching and waiting.

Kuithe leaped high to snag the ball and came down on the field. He rested on his back for a few seconds, clutching the ball to his chest before getting back up.

It was just like old times.

“It felt good,” Kuithe said Tuesday after the first day of spring practices. “Got up a little bit. I didn’t think I could; I’m getting old.”

Rising and Kuithe participated in Tuesday’s practice after both sat out the entire 2023 season while recovering from knee injuries.

But during the short time reporters could watch the Utes practice, Rising and Kuithe both looked like their old selves. Rising, who tore several ligaments in this left knee, looked smooth and mobile during a sequence where he faked a handoff and ran the football himself for a few yards.

(Utah Athletics) Tight end Brandt Kuithe participates in Utah football spring practices on Tuesday, March 12, 2023 at the University of Utah.

Rising said he’s feeling “pretty dang close” to 100% physically.

“I don’t know what exactly 100% is always,” Rising said. “But yeah, I think I’m close to it.”

The returns of Rising and Kuithe are crucial to the Utes as they prepare for their first season in the Big 12. Rising said he decided to return to Utah “kind of later in the year” last year. He acknowledged earlier this year that name, image and likeness opportunities are partly why he came back.

But Rising also said there’s more to do on the field.

“Feel like there’s just meat left on the bone right here that I want to go finish that and just really make sure that we can go win the championship and go to the playoff,” Rising said. “That’s really my goal this season. I think we have a great team around that can help me, just make a lot of plays for me. I think we’re in a great position to do that.”

For Kuithe, he came back because he wanted to put himself in the best position to play at the next level. Rising and other teammates returning didn’t hurt, either, he said.

“Ultimately, it was kind of more personal,” Kuithe said. “Seeing the growth that I can have in the time that I have until next season gives me an opportunity.”

Coach Kyle Whittingham said Rising is “the guy” and taking every rep as the No. 1 quarterback. He said it’s ”a split” between sophomore Brandon Rose, freshman Isaac Wilson and senior Luke Bottari for the No. 2 QB reps.