SALT LAKE CITY — For the most part, football players are afforded a degree of anonymity by a helmet and pads.
Take a safety off the football field and he could be an ordinary run-of-the-mill person, albeit one who is in excellent shape.
The same goes for most running backs, wide receivers, cornerbacks, even linebackers.
Things get a little harder when players are an offensive or defensive lineman, simply due to their size, but thanks to a helmet and pads you might not know which lineman they are when you bump into them, unless they are Leki Fotu, whose hair is a dead giveaway.
The only position where equipment regularly fails to mask the user's identity is quarterback.
Take Utah’s Tyler Huntley.
His might be the most recognizable face of any Utah football player.
Backup Jason Shelley’s visage isn’t too far behind, and even Texas transfer Cameron Rising could probably be picked out of a crowd at this point.
If you are a quarterback at a major university in America, odds are people know your face.
What they don’t always know, however, is a quarterback’s personality. What are they like away from football?
More applicable to the sport itself is what their interactions are like with their fellow quarterbacks.
Do the guys in the quarterback room get along? Do they even need to?
At Utah, the answer is yes to the first question, and probably to the second.
Ask any of the Utes’ signal callers, including Huntley, Shelley, Rising, Drew Lisk or Zach Hymas — freshman Jayden Clemons, a Skyridge Falcon a season ago, started the spring at quarterback, but has since moved to safety — and they’ll tell you.
“It is a fun group. We like to have fun,” said Lisk. “As a group we hang out on the weekends and stuff. We all loosen up when we aren’t in business mode. We all have that in us.”
“We have a solid bond,” added Shelley. “We all hang out regularly. We kind of live close to each other so that helps, but we also all have things in common.”
It helps in a way that each member of the group has their own distinct personality.
There is Huntley, who was described by Shelley as ‘Bossman.’
“He thinks he’s been here for too long,” Shelley said.
Rising, meanwhile, is “Mr. Laugh at Everyone’s Jokes,” Shelley added, which explains a little bit as to why the Texas transfer felt so loved upon his arrival up on the hill.
“It has been good. Really, really good,” Rising said. “All the guys have been really good to me. I have a lot of love for those guys so far.”
Hymas, who transferred to Utah from Weber State, is still adjusting to his move, meanwhile.
“He is nice, quiet guy, kind of getting used to it still,” said Shelley.
Lisk is the “cool guy,” with the long blonde hair to boot, while Shelley described himself thusly: “And then there is me. I probably make too many jokes, try to be a little too cool, but I am so cool.”
The quarterbacks themselves haven’t changed much from the days of former offensive coordinator Troy Taylor to new coordinator Andy Ludwig — “We have a bunch of the same guys in there, compared to last year,” said Lisk — but the room itself has.
“Once we get in the room with Coach Ludwig, and I mean we have some fun together as a group, but when it is time to learn it is time to learn,” said Lisk. “With Coach Ludwig we are all business.”
“That is probably the biggest difference between (Ludwig) and (Taylor),” Shelley added. “Coach Lud is very firm and you can tell, when he walks in everyone gets down to business.”
That might eventually change.
The quarterbacks used to hang out as a group at Taylor’s home, but as of the Red-White game, Ludwig was still moving into his house so the most they and their coach had done outside of football was go out to eat, per Lisk.
There was also the fact that this past spring was of great importance as far as learning Ludwig’s offensive system, and on that point, the quarterbacks — the entire room, really — did well.
“Quarterback play has improved throughout spring and I thought we finished out fairly well,” Ludwig said. “I feel a lot better now than I did two weeks ago, as far as system acclimatization, mastering the new terminology,” said Ludwig. “The first spring in a transition period is about being productive. I thought it was an extremely productive 15 practices. We aren’t anywhere near complete, the final product isn’t close, but this spring will serve as a good springboard into the summer.”