“Better than before”

S-Football preview Travis Wilson-1062 Brittany Green-Miner

 

Quarterback Travis Wilson shows his U to the north end zone after scoring one of his three rushing touchdowns against Oregon State last year. — Conor Barry

Quarterback Travis Wilson shows his U to the north end zone after scoring one of his three rushing touchdowns against Oregon State last year. — Conor Barry

Just get them ready.

What could someone do with a group of college quarterbacks all on one team? That is what Utah is hoping to find out with its new quarterback coach Aaron Roderick.

Roderick has been coaching the wide receivers at Utah since joining the staff in 2005. Now his new calling places him with the guys who heave the ball to those receivers. With an arsenal of seven quarterbacks at his disposal, Roderick has simply one goal in mind as fall camp comes around: prepare all of them to play better than before.

“[They] have to master this offense,” Roderick said. “This is still a new offense, so the quarterbacks have to own it.”

With so many of them on the roster, Roderick said there is no way to make sure all quarterbacks get a number of snaps. Last season’s starter Travis Wilson, who was cleared medically last month for full-contact play after a pre-exsiting condition was discovered last season that left his football career in doubt, will be the leading candidate for the starting job when the Utes open fall camp Aug. 4. Wilson threw for 1,827 yards and 16 touchdowns for the Utes in a shortened 2013 season.

Roderick said he is no longer as concerned as he was last spring about Wilson’s injury, but the quarterback’s competitive nature does at times leave him exposed to potential injury.

“We are trying to coach him to be smart [because] he is a really reckless player,” Roderick said. “He loves contact, and that is because he is a true football player. He relishes the competition of the game. We have to sometimes tone it down a little bit so he doesn’t take that tackle or hit. There is a time for it, and then there isn’t.”

Wilson will be sharing snaps with new face Kendal Thompson. The Oklahoma transfer graduated in May 2014 and was able to transfer without having to sit out a year, having two years of eligibility remaining. In a backup role at Oklahoma, he only completed four passes for 64 yards with a touchdown and an interception.

Some of the other faces are not as new. Junior Adam Schulz was last season’s backup and took Wilson’s place after the injury. Schulz threw for just over 1,000 yards with six touchdowns and five interceptions. Coming off a redshirt year, Connor Manning is also expected to be in the mix after having a strong spring season. Roderick said the two of them are not ruled out by any means.

“Right there you name four guys that are serious contenders,” Roderick said. “All four guys are capable Pac-12 quarterbacks … there just is not enough reps to get four guys a fair chance. The challenge is to stay ready and make the most of the opportunities that they get.”

Another redshirted quarterback is Brandon Cox who was out of the fall due to a foot injury. Cox, who’s been praised for his good football IQ, could get into the mix. Newly recruited Donovan Isom, out of high school in Louisiana, is anticipated to join Utah before fall camp begins. Junior Jason Thompson, who transferred from Wyoming before the spring, makes the seventh quarterback Utah will have at its disposal.

There is a definite possibility some of the quarterbacks may find themselves playing in different positions. Utah has seen success in the past of players switching from quarterback to a new position. Most noteworthy are former Utes and professional players Paul Kruger and Eric Weddle. But nothing will be revealed, at least until fall camp and maybe not until well into the season.

b.barlow@utah.chronicle.edu