Red-White game sees addition of new QB contender

By Christopher Kamrani, Asst. Sports Editor

An estimated 4,500 Utah fans squeezed into a few sections of Rice-Eccles Stadium to get a first glimpse of an encore of last season.

They weren’t disappointed.

The annual Red-White game, the finale to Utah’s spring practice, wowed the crowd with electrifying offensive plays that included a few standout performances. But in the end, the game finished deadlocked in a 35-35 tie.

“We got a lot done and we’ve still got a long ways to go, but we found out a lot about some of the younger guys,” said head coach Kyle Whittingham.

When referring to younger guys, Whittingham meant one kid in particular.

Jordan Wynn, a true freshman from Oceanside, Calif., who was in high school fewer than four months ago.

The 17-year-old quarterback tantalized the crowd as he, alongside juco transfer Terrance Cain, led the white squad with impressive performances.

The 6-foot-1-inch, 163-lb. Wynn went 8-for-13 for 158 yards, including a masterful 28-yard touchdown lob to Elijah Wesson.

“It looks like we’ve got three (quarterbacks),” Whittingham said. “It’s tightening up, and Jordan Wynn has closed the gap considerably in the last four weeks. I’ll tell you right now, it’s most likely gonna be a three-man race come fall.”

Although Wynn was the talk of the day, Cain and Corbin Louks, the quarterback for the red team, were effective in their own right.

Cain, the Houston native, had almost a flawless day, going 13-for-18 for 113 yards.

“I’ve just got to get more consistent with making plays and stop thinking so much and just get comfortable and relax and just play football,” Cain said.

Louks fumbled the first snap of the afternoon that was returned 35 yards by defensive lineman Mike Laloni. Louks overcame the shaky start and went 22-for-33 for a game-high 322 yards passing.

“We’ve gotten better, we’ve taken some strides,” Louks said. “There’s definitely some growing pains going through with a new offense. We’re going to carry this over into the fall.”

The junior from Danville, Calif., had a couplem of superb performances backing him as senior wideout Aiona Key and junior tight end Brad Clifford put on a showcase against an undersized secondary that just couldn’t match their physicality.

Key finished with nine catches for 85 yards including two spectacular touchdown grabs, while Clifford had a game-high 128 yards receiving on six catches that included a rumbling 65-yarder.

“We had some playmakers emerge,” Whittingham said. “Aiona Key, Brad Clifford and Elijah Wesson had a nice outing. I just think the whole game was a positive. Nobody got hurt, which at this point and time is the number one issue. We came out of spring drills very clean with just some bumps and bruises.”

Although the defense was referred to as “very vanilla” on account of not doing defensive blitzes or stunts, the fact that each team was able to stack up 35 points on one another sends a message that this team might not have as many offensive struggles as many skeptics predict.

Offensively for the white team, wideouts Jereme Brooks, Luke Matthews and Wesson were standouts, while running back and local product Sausan Shakerin led the game with 49 yards rushing on eight carries and two touchdowns within the redzone.

“It’s been a great spring,” said Shakerin, who said he realizes that playing time could be in order come fall. “You just grind it, gotta be tough and fight for everything. If you want it, you gotta fight for it.”

As the red team erased a 13-point second-half deficit, the final play of the game was a controversial one. With no time left, thanks to a pass interference call, the ball was spotted at the 1-yard line and Louks took a delayed draw play up the middle and fumbled the ball, which was recovered by wide receiver Ryan Lacy.

As the game was all knotted up at 35, the entire white squad and its coaching staff swarmed and taunted the potentially game-winning PAT and forced a botched snap, ending the game tied.

But the story of the day was freshman Wynn, who reminded Whittingham of a certain former No. 1 pick.

“What (Wynn) reminds me of is a young Alex Smith,” Whittingham said.

Wynn realizes that he has seized this moment and must continue to improve.

“Things are really starting to slow down now and that’s helping me a lot,” he said.
[email protected]

Quarterback Jordan Wynn, the 17-year-old true freshman, leads the team in the hurry-up offense just before halftime Saturday. Wynn has performed well this spring and Kyle Whittingham expects a three-man race for the starting quarterback job come fall.