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Why quarterback Charlie Brewer is turning heads during spring camp

Brewer’s primary competitor for the starting job is Cam Rising, who is not participating in spring drills as he recovers from shoulder surgery. Rising is expected to be fully recovered when the Utes reconvene in August

Utah quarterback Charlie Brewer looks to throw during spring camp at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City.
University of Utah Athletics

Baylor transfer Charlie Brewer continues to solidify himself as Utah’s No. 1 quarterback as the Utes work through the fourth week of spring practices.

Coach Kyle Whittingham was asked Tuesday if any QB has separated himself from the rest of the group.

“Charlie Brewer, hands down. He’s been everything we’ve hoped he’d be to this point. He’s a proven vet,” he said. “He’s got a lot of experience under his belt at the Power Five level. He’s thrown for a ton of yards and he’s won a ton of games. That’s what we expected. So far, he’s been exactly what we’ve expected.”

During spring camp, Brewer, a senior, has been competing with a group of freshmen — Peter Costelli, Ja’Quinden Jackson, Cooper Justice and Bryson Barnes.

Fans will be able to catch Brewer’s first public performance as a Ute during the spring game on April 17 at Rice-Eccles Stadium.

Meanwhile, sophomore QB Cam Rising is not participating in spring drills as he recovers from shoulder surgery. He is expected to be fully recovered when the Utes reconvene in August.

“As (Brewer) continues to digest and assimilate the offense, he gets better and better,” Whittingham said. “It’s going to be a great battle between him and Cam this fall. They’re two outstanding quarterbacks.”

Whittingham anticipates Brewer and Rising splitting the reps during fall camp.

“They’re going to have equal footing. Cam did a great job for us last year through camp and through spring before he got injured. He’s right on schedule,” Whittingham said. “He’s throwing the ball right now — not very far. But he’s throwing the football. We envision right now a two-man race. It could change if JJ keeps performing and getting better or Peter. But if it’s not just those two right out of the gate, it will be just those two very shortly once we decide who the No. 3 guy is, if we haven’t already done that.”

Quarterback Cameron Rising runs drills during a University of Utah football practice at the Eccles Football Center in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, March 26, 2019.
Quarterback Cameron Rising runs drills during a University of Utah football practice at the Eccles Football Center in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, March 26, 2019. Rising has been unable to participate in spring camp while he recovers from an injury, but is expected to be very much in the QB battle once fall camp rolls around.
Spenser Heaps, Deseret News

Whittingham said the players have been receptive to Brewer’s leadership.

“That’s an important thing when you bring a new quarterback in to compete for the starting job,” Whittingham said. “He’s got to fit as well. Charlie so far has been an outstanding fit.”

Tight end Brant Kuithe has been impressed with what he’s seen from Brewer.

“He can throw at all angles. He can run the ball. You saw it at Baylor, you saw a glimpse,” he said. “I didn’t get to see much from him at Baylor because we’re on the West Coast and I didn’t get to watch much of him. The things I have seen, he can throw amazing. During practice, he can launch it.”

Said tight end Dalton Kincaid of Brewer: “The more reps you get with him, the better the chemistry. He’s very confident in what he does. He has a switch that when he’s in the huddle, he’s locked in. He throws a gorgeous ball that always seems to hit you in the right spot. He’s taken more of a leadership role, I feel like, when he’s in the huddle.”

Earlier this spring, wide receiver Britain Covey praised Brewer as well.

“You can definitely tell that Charlie’s played a lot of football. He’s got that confidence. Charlie’s great,” Covey said. “I’m excited for fans to get to know him. He’s not a shy personality but he’s more reserved. Then you get to know him and he’s hilarious. I love Charlie.”

Covey added that there are two things that have stood out about playing with Brewer.

“One, his movement in pocket. I haven’t seen a quarterback able to move like that in a while. He steps up in the pocket, he slides left and slides right, keeps his eyes downfield. You can tell he has a lot of experience,” Covey said. “It’s like he has an extra set of eyes in the pocket, knowing where to move. It’s amazing.

“Second, his release. He has an extremely fast and quick release, which helps him get the ball into tight windows. He’s not very tall. I know as a quarterback in high school I had a hard time seeing over my line. They were like 6-foot. These guys are 6-5 on the offensive line. Having a quick release to see in these windows and gaps is really important.”

After last Friday’s scrimmage, the first one of the spring, Whittingham noted that Brewer has been receiving the “vast majority” of reps in practices.

“And that’s been the case all spring and that will be the case during these last six practices,” he said. “The other reps were divided almost equally between the other four. Ja’Quinden Jackson and Pete Costelli have gotten more than the other two … throughout the spring. I don’t see that changing in the last (several) practices.”