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Utah football notebook: Chase Hansen is team's 'insurance policy' quarterback

Utah Utes quarterback Chase Hansen (15) runs for extra yards against Utah State Aggies in Salt Lake City Friday, Sept. 11, 2015. Utah won 24-14.
Utah Utes quarterback Chase Hansen (15) runs for extra yards against Utah State Aggies in Salt Lake City Friday, Sept. 11, 2015. Utah won 24-14.
Jeffrey D. Allred,

SALT LAKE CITY — As Utah transitions from winter training to spring camp, coaches look to build on last year’s 10-win season.

“Trajectory is the key,” said Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham. “You want to stay on the right trajectory, and we’ve been able to do that for the last few years.”Whittingham said positive momentum is fed by positive results.

Whittingham said positive momentum is fed by positive results.

“It comes from winning,” he said. “When you win, it helps with recruiting. When you have better recruiting, you win more. It all kinds of builds off of each other.”

He said each year the staff analyzes what can be done to improve results.

“We’re building each year, taking another step forward,” he said. “You try to continue making your program better.”

UTAH’S QB INSURANCE POLICY

Even though Chase Hansen will miss Utah’s entire spring camp recovering from a lower leg injury, he was still a topic of conversation on the first day of camp because of the Utes' question mark at quarterback.

The Lone Peak standout was stuck on the sideline as the third-string quarterback last season until injuries to Utah’s secondary forced coaches to look for replacements.

“We came to him and said, ‘Would you be willing to give this a try?’” Whittingham said of Hansen moving from quarterback to safety. “He was the third-string quarterback, not getting any reps, and he really, really embraced it.”

Hansen had an impressive debut in his first collegiate start with a game-high 11 tackles, a pass breakup and a forced fumble in Utah’s 34-23 win at Washington on Nov. 9. And then, in the waning minutes, he suffered a season-ending injury.

When asked whether Hansen will ever compete at quarterback again, Whittingham said it’s possible.

“His desire is to stay on defense,” the coach said. “Chase will not be able to compete this spring, but he’s kind of an ace in the hole, an insurance policy.”

The best-case scenario is that one of the team’s other quarterbacks establishes himself as the unequivocal starter, which allows Hansen to continue developing as a defensive player.

It’s an interesting development after Utah was so clear when they recruited Hansen, and when he returned from his LDS mission, that the team planned to use him as a quarterback.

“We made a commitment to him that he’d compete as a quarterback,” Whittingham said. “But he’s had a little taste of defense, and that gave him a change of heart. …But he’s a team guy, and he would do whatever the team needed him to do.”

UTAH PRO DAY THURSDAY

Utah will host Pro Day Thursday at 8:30 a.m. Seventeen players are expected to participate this year, and the day will begin with bench press and vertical and broad jump tests, followed by sprint, speed, agility and position drills.

Those expected to participate are: Siaosi Aiono, Devontae Booker, Tevin Carter, Ahmad Christian, Jason Fanaika, Viliseni Fauonuku, Andrew Fletcher, Tom Hackett, Jon Halliday, Jared Norris, Gionni Paul, Bubba Poole, Kenneth Scott, Kendal Thompson, Chris Van Orden, Jason Whittingham, and Travis Wilson.

Email: adonaldson@deseretnews.com

Twitter: adonsports