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Kyle Whittingham says Utah Utes quarterbacks on 'equal footing'

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah coach Kyle Whittingham insists that quarterbacks Brandon Cox, Tyler Huntley and Troy Williams will open fall camp on “equal footing.”

The trio, who are seeking to fill the vacancy left by the graduation of four-year starter Travis Wilson, are now on even ground when it comes to health. After missing the last two weeks of spring ball with what was described as a “sore throwing arm,” Williams is completely back in the mix.

“He’s 100 percent and there’s no limitations,” said Utah coach Kyle Whittingham. “That competition will pick up right where it left off the first day of fall camp.”

Williams, a junior college transfer who began his career at Washington, met a projected timetable when it came to healing from the unspecified muscle problem. After the spring finale, Whittingham noted that he expected Williams to be ready to go by summer.

“According to our medical staff it was not a significant injury,” Whittingham said. “It was something that was just going to take a few weeks. Everything has run its course and he’s back out throwing.”

Although Whittingham acknowledged that Williams was “starting to emerge when he went down with the injury,” he considers all three quarterbacks to be on equal ground now.

“When Troy went down that gave Tyler and Brandon more reps and they made the most of them,” said Whittingham, who added that Huntley and Cox progressed and did a nice job.”

The competition, thus, continues — complete with a sense of urgency. The Utes begin fall practices Aug. 4 and open the season Sept. 1 at home against Southern Utah.

“We feel like we’ve got three really good ones but we want to be able to identify who the guy is going to be as soon as possible,” Whittingham said. “But it’s got to play itself out. Somebody’s got to play their way into the job, and the sooner that happens the better. But we want to make sure we end up with the right guy.”

The bottom line, obviously, is the most important thing as Utah enters a new era at quarterback. The process, though, is pretty much on hold until camp opens.

“There won’t be any depth chart discussions in the summer. None at all,” Whittingham said in April. “They’re just expected to all work hard and get better and continue to perfect their craft and come ready to compete come August.”

Whittingham said that the Utes have three guys they really like. Having a heated battle, he continued, is a good problem to have.

“Nothing’s been settled and it’ll continue in fall camp. We’re not under the gun right now. We don’t have to have it settled yet,” Whittingham said following the spring game. “It’ll keep all three of them hungry throughout the summer and it should be a great battle this fall.”

Williams enters the competition after a stellar season at Santa Monica (California) College — passing for 2,750 yards with 31 touchdowns and just four interceptions. In 2014, Williams played in five games (starting one) for Pac-12 foe Washington. He redshirted for the Huskies before that.

Cox, meanwhile, has the benefit of being in the Utah program the longest. He’s been with the Utes since 2013. However, Cox has played in just one game — completing 3-of-3 passes for 17 yards and carrying the ball twice for 22 yards in a lopsided victory over Idaho State in 2014.

Huntley is the newcomer to college football. The 2015 Florida high school player of the year, who graduated early after racking up 9,053 yards passing and 106 touchdowns as a four-year starter, joined the Utah program in January and made quite an impact in spring ball.

“He’s dynamic. He’s got those intangibles you look for in a quarterback,” Whittingham said in the spring. “He’s got a field-general mentality and he’s got that charisma that you really like in a quarterback.”

Whittingham added that one of the things that Huntley brings to the table is the ability to extend a play.

“He’s got great pocket presence. He feels the rush. He keeps his eyes downfield,” Whittingham explained. “He’s great at avoiding the rush and continuing to stick with the play rather than just tuck-and-run.”

EXTRA POINTS: Offensive lineman J.J. Dielman and defensive back Justin Thomas will represent the Utes at Pac-12 Football Media Days in Hollywood, California, July 14-15. … Players report to camp Aug. 3. … Utah will host Weber State on Sept. 2, 2021. The Utes and Wildcats are also scheduled to play at Rice-Eccles Stadium on Sept. 30, 2018.

Email: dirk@desnews.com

Twitter: @DirkFacer