By all indications, Utah quarterback Cam Rising and tight end Brant Kuithe are striving to return to the field as soon as possible.

“I‘m grinding and doing everything I possibly can and even the fact that I’m going out there and practicing and everything is I’m ahead of schedule and just I’m trying to make sure that I can be out there,” Rising said earlier this month on ESPN 700. “No one wants to be out there with those guys just grinding on the field more than me.”

“It is a possibility. It hasn’t really been talked about at length or in detail, but certainly that is something that is one way this thing could break and so we’ll see what happens.” — Utah coach Kyle Whittingham

Kuithe, in his only interview of the season on ESPN 700 on Sep. 12, had a similar sentiment.

“I mean as soon as we’re ready to play, we’re going to play,” Kuithe said.

Both players have been practicing for a while, but Rising and Kuithe won’t see game action until they’re fully healthy and cleared by their surgeon, Dr. Neal ElAttrache.

“Again, it’s just a situation we’re just waiting week after week for a thumbs-up. Here we are at the midpoint, so I don’t want to say the clock is ticking, but we would love to have either or both of those guys back as soon as possible,” Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said. “But again, it’s just a waiting game and waiting for the go-ahead, waiting for the green light.”

Utah hit the halfway point of the season in a 34-14 win over Cal on Saturday at Rice-Eccles Stadium, improving to 5-1 on the year. But the later into the season Utah goes without its two offensive stars, the more questions will be raised about the possibility of a medical redshirt.

To qualify for a medical redshirt, the injury must be season-ending, so because Rising and Kuithe’s injuries caused them to miss the first six games this season, the two players would have to not play a snap this year to be eligible for a medical redshirt.

“Well if you play and then get hurt and then play no more you get the medical redshirt if it’s within five games, no more than four, but if you’re hurt initially, if you play at any time later on, that negates the medical redshirt,” Whittingham explained. “So you can be hurt in fall camp and if you go 10 games without playing, or 11, and play in the last one, then you don’t have the medical redshirt. It’s got to be season-ending injury.”

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Both Rising and Kuithe are in their sixth season of college football, with a redshirt and the 2020 COVID year that didn’t count against eligibility. Would they want to come back for a seventh season at Utah, or would they want to move on and try to make the NFL?

Two factors in that decision could be NIL money and what NFL scouts are saying about their chances of being drafted. Some NFL teams may want film of Rising and Kuithe playing college football after their surgeries before taking a chance on them.

While Whittingham hasn’t talked to Rising or Kuithe about a medical redshirt in great length, he did acknowledge that it’s a possibility.

“It is a possibility. It hasn’t really been talked about at length or in detail, but certainly that is something that is one way this thing could break and so we’ll see what happens,” Whittingham said.

If Rising and Kuithe are unable to play this season and decide to apply for the medical redshirt, Whittingham thinks it will be approved.

“It’s pretty much a slam dunk nowadays. ... I shouldn’t say a slam dunk, but 99%, how about that?” Whittingham said.

Utah Utes tight end Brant Kuithe hands a fan a signed ball.
Utah Utes tight end Brant Kuithe hands a fan a signed ball before Rose Bowl game against Penn Sate in Pasadena on Monday, Jan. 2, 2023. | Ben B. Braun, Deseret News