SALT LAKE CITY — On the surface, the news Monday that University of Utah quarterback Cameron Rising’s petition to become eligible immediately after transferring from Texas was denied could be seen as a big loss for the Utes.
It’s true that him getting denied is curious given that in this day and age of mass transfers, many quarterbacks’ petitions to play immediately have been granted (see high-profile signal-callers Justin Fields and Tate Martell as just two examples), but Rising’s appeal not getting granted isn't the worst thing in the world for Utah.
As it stands now, the Utes will enter the fall with three scholarship quarterbacks who are eligible to play in 2019 — Tyler Huntley, Jason Shelley and Drew Lisk. It stands to reason that Huntley will be the starter and get the lion’s share of the playing time assuming he stays healthy, and that Shelley will get the rest of the meaningful minutes, with Lisk likely only to enter a game in the event of a blowout win or a complete injury disaster.
With that primed to be the case, perhaps it’s not all bad that Rising won't be able to play in 2019 (he’ll have three years of eligibility remaining after he redshirted in 2018, starting when he becomes eligible in 2020). It might have been nice for head coach Kyle Whittingham to have the extra competition for playing time that Rising’s availability would have provided this season, but Huntley and Shelley have both proven to be capable of successfully carrying Utah in the Pac-12.
Huntley threw for 1,788 yards and 12 touchdowns and rushed for 304 net yards with four touchdowns in 2018 before getting injured, and Shelley was excellent in relief, throwing for 1,162 yards with five touchdowns and rushing for 192 net yards with three touchdowns.
Rising will now be in position to have three years of eligibility left starting when Huntley, who will be a senior in 2019, is gone from the program. With Huntley’s eligibility set to expire after this upcoming season, there is expected to be competition for the starting spot in 2020. Shelley, Rising and Lisk are at this point the names to watch for that race a year from now (there are also a number of walk-on quarterbacks currently on the roster).
So while the NCAA has been inconsistent at best in giving immediate eligibility to some transferred players and not to others, it's not the end of the world for Utah that Rising’s appeal to play right away was not granted.