Utah fans will be belting out “Bad Moon Rising” at Rice-Eccles Stadium next year.
Ute quarterback Cam Rising is returning for the 2024 season, he announced on social media.
Rising coming back for his sixth year at the program is a huge boon for the Utes as they enter their first season in the Big 12 Conference, which coincides with the College Football Playoff field expanding to 12 teams.
The Utes get the leader of their team back and a quarterback who has shined in Andy Ludwig’s offense, throwing for 5,572 yards and 46 touchdowns over his Utes career.
“Cam Rising, tremendous player. Absolute leader of our football team, he’s the alpha dog of our team,” coach Kyle Whittingham said at Pac-12 media day this season.
The timing of Rising’s announcement, which comes one week before the end of the regular season, is also important. Beyond the impact it could have on other Utah players’ stay or go decisions, one has to imagine that it makes Utah a more desirable destination when the transfer portal opens in early December.
The senior from Ventura, California, missed the entirety of the 2023 season after undergoing surgery in January 2023 to repair his torn ACL, meniscus, MPFL and MCL.
During Utah’s 2023 campaign, the will-he-won’t-he play saga stretched from fall camp to the middle of October, when Whittingham announced that Rising was out for the season. Because Rising didn’t play a snap in the 2023 season due to injury, he is eligible for a medical redshirt.
Rising practiced with the team throughout the first few months of the 2023 season and continued to travel to games with the team, often seen offering quarterbacks Bryson Barnes and Nate Johnson advice on the sideline.
“He is the leader of the football team, the leader of the leaders as we’ve said many times before. And he is a guy that affects everybody around him. Everyone looks to him and he sets the bar and then demands everyone live up to that expectation,” Whittingham said during fall camp.
A former four-star recruit, Rising transferred to Utah from Texas in 2019, becoming the full-time starter four games into the 2021 season (he was named the starter in 2020, but was injured in the first game against USC and was lost for the season).
Rising has led the Utes to two Pac-12 championships while helping revitalize Utah’s passing offense.
Utah’s throw game upswing started in 2019 with Tyler Huntley, who threw for 3,092 yards, the first time a Utes quarterback had thrown for over 2,900 yards since Brian Johnson in 2008. Rising kept the offensive momentum going, throwing for 2,493 yards and 20 touchdowns in the 2021 season while leading the Utes to their first-ever Pac-12 championship.
In 2022, the Utes won back-to-back Pac-12 titles while scoring 38.6 points per game, surpassed in the last 20 years only by the 45.3 points per game scored by the undefeated 2004 team.
Rising threw for 3,034 yards and 26 touchdowns that season, with standout performances in both wins vs. USC. On Oct. 15, 2022 Rising led Utah to a 43-42 win over the Trojans, throwing for 415 yards and two touchdowns and adding three rushing touchdowns, including two rushes at the end of the game to win it — a touchdown and a two-point conversion.
Two months later, Rising threw for 310 yards and three touchdowns in a 47-24 win over USC in the Pac-12 championship game.