The Utes continue to progress through spring camp up on the hill, now in week three of spring camp. While there are many position battles taking place none is more high profile than the current three way competition at quarterback between Brandon Cox, Troy Williams and Tyler Huntley. While nothing will be set in stone until the end of fall camp, the spring competition has proved somewhat reminiscent of the quarterback competition of fall 2009.
The summer of 2009 was the year Jordan Wynn, Terrance Cain, and Corbin Louks competed for the starting spot following Brian Johnson's departure. Cain eventually won the job before turning it over to Wynn halfway through the season. Though the current quarterbacks are significantly different players than the 2009 group in terms of talent and skill set, there are similarities.
Both competitions consisted of a player that had been in the program a while, waiting their turn (Cox/Louks), a touted JC transfer (Williams/Cain) and a promising true freshman who surprised in camp (Huntley/Wynn). You could argue (correctly in my opinion) that all three of the current players are better than their 2009 counterparts. For Utah that is a great sign of the recruiting progress that has been made since joining the Pac-12 conference.
The 2009 competition took place in fall camp, but we are already seeing signs of a similar scenario playing out just a few weeks into spring. First of all, the fact that this is a three way competition despite the fact that Brandon Cox has been in the program for three years longer than Williams or Huntley, does not bode well for Cox. I really like Cox and find it easy to root for him, however a player that has been in the system for three years should have a huge advantage in knowing the playbook, understanding the program's culture and having a rapport with the coaches. The fact that Cox has all these advantages and is still in a dead heat with Williams and Huntley indicates the coaching staff sees greater potential in the other two quarterbacks. By all accounts Cox has struggled with his accuracy at times this spring. Louks also struggled with accuracy in his time as a Utah quarterback and eventually transferred and switched positions. If Cox does not win the job, it's hard to see him finding playing time in the future and a transfer could also be in the cards down the line.
Troy Williams like Terrance Cain was a four star prospect from a JC. A main difference here is Williams already has playing experience in the Pac-12 when he was at Washington. Williams seems to be the unofficial favorite both in fans and coaches minds alike through the first part of spring. Despite the fact Kyle Whittingham maintains this is an open competition, he sure seemed anxious to get Williams back from a minor injury on Tuesday, making the comment "We have to get Troy back, that is something that absolutely has to happen soon." This could mean it's important to have all three getting reps so the coaching staff can fairly evaluate all three, but I get the feeling he is more concerned about Williams getting as many reps as he can before he becomes the eventual starter. Williams has shown good accuracy and command in spring practice and I believe is the odds on favorite to be the starter in week one.
Playing the role of surprising freshman is the reigning Gatorade Florida State High School player of the year, Tyler Huntley. Just as Wynn came in and showed coaches he could compete right away, Huntley has shown up and impressed in all facets, from accuracy, to arm strength, to leadership abilities. Another trait Huntley has that Wynn also possessed, is a body that has room to grow. Huntley is still rail thin as an early enrolled freshman. Wynn was undersized when he took over the starting gig and injuries ended his career. For this reason I think it would be smart for the Utah coaching staff to sit Huntley for a year and work on getting some weight on him. Even if he turns out to be the most talented of the three, it is not worth risking injury at the future of the position when both Cox and Williams are available. As impressive as Huntley has been, he is still a freshman and will make freshman mistakes. Having someone who has already gone through the growing process, such as Williams, seems the better route to take.
Of course this is all speculative, as official word from the program is all three are progressing nicely and have shown both positives and negatives. Any lasting decisions won't be made until well into fall camp. From an outsider's perspective however, it's easy for me to draw similarities between this year's battle and 2009's competition. In the end I think there will be a similar result with Williams starting, Huntley not far behind and Cox with a decision to make on his future.
Who would you like to see win the competition? Let us know in the comments.