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Home Stretch — Episode 8: The Utah Football Quarterback Situation

In this episode, sports writer Kyle Garrison sits down to talk about Cam Rising’s return to Utah football and the transfer portal, analyzing what this could mean for the football program next year.
(Design by Mary Allen | The Daily Utah Chronicle)
Mary Allen
(Design by Mary Allen | The Daily Utah Chronicle)


Stevie Shaughnessey: Hi and welcome back to Home Stretch, The Daily Utah Chronicle’s sports podcast. My name is Stevie, and I’ll be your host. Today, sports writer Kyle Garrison is joining us to give his thoughts on the quarterback situation with Utah football, and what the recent changes could mean for next year’s football season. Hi Kyle, and welcome back to the podcast!

Kyle Garrison: Hey Stevie. Thanks for having me again. Appreciate it.

Stevie Shaughnessey: So, obviously, everyone saw Cam [Rising’s] decision to come back to Utah football next year. I know there was talk of him transferring, some rumors or it, I’m not sure if those are confirmed, but he has decided to come back. How did you react when you heard Cam was coming back next year?

Kyle Garrison: Yeah, so I was pretty 50-50 all year on whether I thought he was going to come back or whether I thought he was going to hit the transfer portal. I definitely was surprised that he was coming back just because I thought that the portal would be the best option for him just with our, like, high-level recruiting with quarterbacks. I know we got Isaac Wilson coming in, and then we got another guy from California coming in that we just got a commitment from. But then the other half of that, I wasn’t surprised because of the fact that, obviously, he’s a Utah man. He’s been under Kyle Whittingham, he’s a Kyle Whittingham guy. Very X’s and O’s. He fits Andy Ludwig’s offense really, really well. So, I mean, I didn’t really know, I didn’t have an opinion on what I thought was going to happen. But, I am very glad that he’s coming back because he deserves another shot to make the playoffs and win, win a Big 12 championship next year just because he has put a lot of work in here at Utah. He’s kind of turned this program around, bringing them back-to-back Pac-12 championships. So, obviously, like, I’m absolutely ecstatic, and I can’t wait to see what he’s going to be able to do.

Stevie Shaughnessey: Another big announcement that happened last week is that right after camp said he was coming back, Nate Johnson quickly joined the transfer portal. Why do you think that is, and do you think that will lose other people to the transfer portal this year?

Kyle Garrison: I think that, I think that his decision, Nate’s, Nate’s decision definitely relied heavily on Cam’s decision to come back. I think there was also a ton of other things that went into it. One being, just this year, when Nate came in, it seemed like he didn’t really mesh well with the Andy Ludwig offense. He’s a very run-first guy, and he had to be very accurate with his throws, because that’s kind of the offense that we run, and I think that he’s going to fit a lot better with a, like, SEC, or an ACC offense where it’s more high tempo, and he kind of can be more creative. I know Andy Ludwig’s very X’s and O’s on his offensive scheme, and so a guy like Cam Rising fits that very well, just because he’s a student of the game and he doesn’t really make a lot of mistakes. Nate Johnson pretty much relies on his legs and his ability to, like, make plays scrambling out of the pocket and be creative, and that’s not really Andy Ludwig’s style, so I think it was probably the best decision for Nate to transfer. I think that coming in, he expected to probably sit a couple of years and I think this year with Cam coming out, Cam getting, getting injured, I think that he probably thought he was the guy for the job and it obviously didn’t work out for him. So, I think a new change of scenery is good for him – for his development. He’s still young. He’s going to be a junior next year, so with his skill set, I think he’s going to do go somewhere and I think he’s going to do well. I just don’t think Utah was the place for him. And then with that, I don’t know if we’re going to lose a lot more to the transfer portal. I know Cam coming back is kind of like a, for guys like Bryson Barnes and Brandon Rose there, they kind of see that and they think you know, we’re probably going to be sidelined next year, going to be back in backup roles, and with Isaac Wilson coming in out of Corner Canyon next year, I think that he’s also going to be in the mix for that backup quarterback position. So, we’ll see in the next coming weeks. So there’s going to be a lot of mix-ups coming out, and we’ll see what happens but as of right now, I think those guys are probably going to stay put but you never know. It’s a weird world college football is nowadays, so.

Stevie Shaughnessey: So, you mentioned a few people that are coming in to Utah football next year. Do you think that any of these people are going to challenge camp at all or do you think that this starting position is Cam’s to have?

Kyle Garrison: Yeah. Simple answer: no. I mean, there’s no one that’s going to take his spot. We’re not going to get any transfers coming in. Everybody in the country knows that this is going to be Cam’s team. I think next year it’s going to be between him and Shedeur Sanders as the two best quarterbacks in the Big 12. If Shedeur ends up staying at Colorado for another year, I think that Cam Rising has the potential to be a top five quarterback in the country if he stays healthy obviously. I mean, I just think that a lot of people have forgotten how good he has been the past few years. Last year, like against USC, it was kind of a, that was kind of a legacy game for him. He came out and showed the world that he’s legit and he’s going to, he’s going to make plays and he’s going to be just as good as the guys playing across from him, the Caleb Williams and the Bo Nixs of the world, he’s going to, he’s going to duel those guys every week and he’s just an unbelievable player. And next year, this is his team, this is his year to come in, make the college football playoff, win the Big 12, and you know, maybe, maybe, you know, make a little run, try and win the national championship next year.I think that Cam’s got really high expectations for this team. He’s going to come in with a chip on his shoulder, not being, not being able to play this current year, and I think that he’s gonna make some noise. I’m really excited to see what he does.

Stevie Shaughnessey: And I know everyone is talking all about Cam coming back, but what about Bryson Barnes? Do you think that we’ll still see him on the field next year, because I know he was a talk of the town this year. What do you think will happen with him?

Kyle Garrison: Yeah, so, in my opinion, I think that Bryson’s probably going to take back that backup position, backup role, he’s going to probably be a good mentor to Isaac Wilson coming in and some younger guys that we have on the roster that are going to be probably poised to be the next backup quarterbacks or starters. So, I think, I think Bryson’s role is going to probably turn into more of a mentor and more of a, you know, hype man, for some of these young guys. I love Bryson, I think, I’m just, I’m glad he was able to come in and be the starting quarterback this year. He had a lot of, he had a lot of hype coming in, or the team had a lot of hype coming in, and it’s really hard to be a starting quarterback, when you kind of get thrown into that role at a big school with a lot of expectations, and I commend him for being able to come in and be poised. But, I just don’t know if he has that skill set to be able to take that step, that backup quarterback job next year, just with the arm talent that Isaac Wilson, Isaac Wilson has, and his ability to make big throws. I was watching his highlights from this year at Corner Canyon and he’s legit. He’s a, he’s an NFL guy, so, but I do think that Bryson will probably stick around. I know he’s a Utah man and him and Kyle Whittingham are very, very close so I think that he’ll probably stick around and be a good, be a good glue-guy for this team, good locker room guy to have around for sure. I also wouldn’t be surprised if he were to transfer. He’s got a lot of film. He’s got a lot of tape that I’m sure some mid-major programs are going to look at and really appreciate, and especially, like I said, they’re going to appreciate the fact that he came in, took over a team and just, you know, played, played his heart out and, you know, he never gave up, he never got discouraged, and I think that there’s some teams that are going to be looking for a guy like that to come in as a senior leader – so either or, I wouldn’t be surprised and, you know, I hope, I hope the best for him. He’s a great dude. He’s a great guy and a great teammate, as well, so.

Stevie Shaughnessey: So, along with some lineup changes, what else do you think will change with Cam back next year?

Kyle Garrison: I mean, I just think everything changes for our offense. I mean, as you, as we’ve seen in the past two years prior to this year, so much opens up in our offense with Cam under center. We have so much more ability to run the ball with the play action just because they’re so focused on Cam being able to run the ball and throw the ball that that play-action game just opens up everything for us. I think our run game is going to be top in the Big 12 next year, especially just because Big 12 is much less of a defensive conference. There’s a lot of, a lot of high-powered offenses, and they don’t really focus on defense nearly as much, so there’s going to be a lot of points being scored, and I think that our offense is going to be a top 10 offense in the country with Cam under center. He’s just so dynamic. He can get hit receivers in stride. He’s just, he does everything like what you want in the starting quarterback of a, of a school with the, with Utah’s caliber. So I think that he’s going to be, I think he’s going to pick up right where he left off. I would, I would be surprised if he didn’t pick up where he left off, and I just, I know that this year, we were very one dimensional, and we still went 8-4 in a loaded Pac-12 conference. So, I think that next year, being in an even worse conference with an easier schedule, I think that he’s going to come in and he’s going to make some noise early on, and I think he’s going to, I’m not saying, I don’t want to jinx it, but I think he’s a legit Heisman contender, so.

Stevie Shaughnessey: Great. Well, do you have any other thoughts on Cam coming back or about anything else we talked about today?

Kyle Garrison: Yeah, I mean, just to reiterate, like I said, there’s, there’s going to be a lot of good stuff to watch next year. I think that Cam is going to be a Heisman contender. I think he’s going to have to put up a lot of points because I think that the Big 12, that any team they play is going to be putting up points so he’s going to have to match that. I think there’s gonna be a lot of games like there was last year against USC where it was like a 43-42 finish, and there’s going to be a lot of shootouts that he’s going to have to put up some big numbers. I could see him throwing for 30 touchdowns, and I could see him running for five to 10. So, that puts him right up there with the guys who are in Heisman contention this year, and I think that he is going to, he’s going to make some noise. I know I’ve said that a million times, but I’m really, really excited to see what he’s going to do, and I think that, I think that Heisman is not only an achievable goal, but I think that it’s very, very, like, likely that he is in that mix, especially early on in the season, and yeah, I’m really excited for that. And I hope that all the guys that have stepped up this year, you know, in his absence, have success down the line, and I hope they can all find good homes and the transfer portal. I love the transfer portal because it allows guys to be able to go and play right away if they, you know, like a Nate Johnson or Bryson Barnes who were able to come in, get some film, get some tape and they can now go on and try and get a starting role and, you know, have their own team like Cam has here at Utah.

Stevie Shaughnessey: Great! Well, thank you for sharing your thoughts Kyle. Thank you for listening to Home Stretch, The Daily Utah Chronicle’s sports podcast. Stay tuned for new episodes coming every other week. 


Transcribed by

Producer and Host: Stevie Shaughnessey —  [email protected]   | @steviechrony

Guest: Kyle Garrison — [email protected] | @kgarry21

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About the Contributors
Stevie Shaughnessey, Home Stretch Producer, Host
Stevie is a junior transfer student at the U who is majoring in communications with an emphasis in journalism, and minoring in documentary studies. In her free time, Stevie likes to take part in many different activities, such as dirt bike riding, snowboarding and photography.
Kyle Garrison, Sports Writer
Kyle garrison grew up in Spring Lake, Michigan. He moved to Salt Lake City to pursue a degree in communications with an emphasis in journalism. Kyle plans on pursuing broadcast journalism as a career once graduating from the University of Utah. Kyle started with the Chronicle this fall and has loved every minute of working with the team.
Mary Allen, Design Director
(she/her) Born and raised in Salt Lake City, Mary is thrilled to be here at the University of Utah studying graphic design. She feels very lucky to get to rub shoulders with the talented people that make up the team here at the Chronicle and is learning a lot from them every day. Other than making things look cute, Mary’s passions include music, pickleball, Diet Coke, wildlife protection, and the Boston Red Sox.

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