A win-win-win situation

By and

When the U football team returns to action in the fall, it’s going to have a high-quality quarterback at the helm. Which one it will be, though, is still up in the air.

Of course, the choice won’t be an easy one for head coach Kyle Whittingham to make, but this is the good type of choice that doesn’t come along too often for many football teams.

Instead of having to choose between a couple decent possibilities or wonder if any of the candidates will excel, the Utes have two proven candidates and one with a lot of upside waiting to get the call.

Just look at what Brian Johnson, Brett Ratliff and Tommy Grady have to offer to make Whittingham’s decision so difficult.

Johnson was groomed his freshman year behind Alex Smith and responded with an impressive sophomore debut as the team’s starting quarterback.

Before going down with a season-ending knee injury, Johnson completed 63.6 percent of his passes for 2,892 yards and 18 touchdowns while throwing just seven interceptions.

He could also run the ball, and he finished as the teams No. 2 rusher with 478 yards and eight touchdowns, which helped him to finish fourth in the nation in total offense, averaging 337 yards a game.

And then there’s Ratliff, certainly the fan favorite at this point. He made his debut after Johnson’s injury against New Mexico in the fourth quarter. He led the Ute offense down the field and nearly found a way to make a comeback, but he threw an interception to end the game.

That pick was quickly forgotten in Ratliff’s first official start, when he ignited the Utah offense in an unexpected overtime victory over archrival BYU and then again in the Emerald Bowl over Georgia Tech.

So although Ratliff only played in two full games last season, he showed he could perform well under intense pressure, something with which Johnson struggled.

Finally, the Utes will also have Tommy Grady gunning for the position. Grady left Oklahoma a year ago and will be eligible to play this season.

The junior is tall (six feet seven inches) and has all the makings of a star quarterback. He went 12-of-14 for 63 yards and a touchdown in limited action for the Sooners, and he had plenty of success in high school.

So which one should start? Both Ratliff and Grady looked impressive during the spring, and for that matter, so did redshirt freshman Kevin Dunn.

Johnson hasn’t been able to prove himself as he’s still recovering from his knee injury, so should that keep him from taking back his starting slot?

Fortunately, the Utes should have it pretty good. It seems that, regardless of whom they choose to guide the offense, they should be in good hands.

Really, it’s too bad they can’t use all of them, but that just can’t happen. Two of them will spend the majority of the year on the bench, while one will take on the role as the starter.

It’s going to be a tough choice, but at least Ute fans can be assured that whomever Whittingham chooses, it will be a good decision.