‘I think we can do some special things’: Cam Rising returns to Utah, much to the elation of Utah coach
‘Cam has got to be one of the best, if not the best, returning quarterbacks in the country,’ Kyle Whittingham said
Cam Rising broke the news that he is returning to Utah for the 2024 season, something that Utah’s players and the coaching staff were very glad to hear.
Rising shared his decision to return to Utah with the team last week before making it public in a social media post Sunday afternoon.
“He’s an alpha dog and can’t tell you how excited we are and elated that we are ... it’s going to be a great start and a big part of our outlook on next year’s season.” — Utah coach Kyle Whittingham on Cam Rising
The timing of the decision was key, and it could impact the decisions of Utah players deciding whether to stay or leave, plus give the Utes a leg up in the transfer portal, which opens in early December.
“Huge. That’s huge. Going forward for our program, that’s a huge component to our team. It’ll help in recruiting, it’ll help maybe a few guys that are on the fence. ‘Do I come out, do I stay?’ Maybe a few of those guys decide to return because of that,” coach Kyle Whittingham said in his weekly press conference Monday afternoon.
The real impact of Rising’s decision on the potential return of some of Utah’s key offensive players that could move on after the season, like tight end Brant Kuithe, remains to be seen. Whittingham said on Monday that Kuithe is still deliberating on what he wants to do.
Running back Micah Bernard, who was lost for the season early on after suffering an off-the-field injury, hinted that he may return, posting an Instagram story of Rising’s announcement video with the caption “Squad back together another year.” Bernard, listed as a junior on the roster, has been at Utah since 2019, but would still have eligibility if he decided to come back.
The longtime Utah coach said that he keeps the “self-serving” interest out of his talks with players that are trying to decide whether to come back or leave.
A lot of factors went into the conservations between Utah’s coach and quarterback, including Rising proving to NFL scouts that he’s healthy again and can perform at the same level he was playing at before the injury. A new challenge to face in the Big 12 was also a consideration.
“I would agree that coming back was in his best interest and not just in ours,” Whittingham said.
That said, it’s safe to say that Whittingham is over the moon with the decision from one of the most successful quarterbacks in school history.
“Cam has got to be one of the best, if not the best, returning quarterbacks in the country,” Whittingham said. “He won two championships for us. Ultimate leader, the supreme leader. He’s an alpha dog and I can’t tell you how excited we are and elated that we are ... it’s going to be a great start and a big part of our outlook on next year’s season.”
Rising won’t be made available to the media until the lead-up to Utah’s bowl game after the regular season, but shared why he decided to return to Utah in an interview with Bill Riley on ESPN 700 radio.
“I just think we got a great opportunity and just having coach Whit and coach (Andy Ludwig), I think we can do some special things, especially with some guys returning and just excited to see who stays and who goes and what the team will look like next year,” Rising said.
As expected, other schools reached out to the veteran quarterback, who has thrown for 5,572 yards and 46 touchdowns over his Utes career, but Rising wanted to stay put in Salt Lake City for his sixth season at the University of Utah.
“Yeah, there was good opportunities everywhere. I just kind of felt like the best decision was definitely to just stay a Ute and happy with that decision,” Rising said.
To be clear, Rising’s medical redshirt has not yet been given by the NCAA. That process cannot begin until after Utah’s bowl game. In the past, Whittingham said Rising getting that redshirt is a “slam dunk.”
“I think hopefully it should be a slam dunk like coach said,” Rising said.
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“It’s a very strong possibility. I don’t see that being a hangup. I think at this moment in time, that still has to be paperwork and some sort of a procedure that has to take place,” Whittingham said on Monday.
Asked about whether Rising will be ready for spring ball, Whittingham wouldn’t make any guarantees. After the will-he-won’t-he-play saga that went on earlier this fall and deep into the season, that’s the right call by Utah’s coach.
“We hope so, but again, that’s up to him and the medical staff, but from my vantage point, I don’t see any reason why it wouldn’t be, but I’m just an outsider on that part of it,” Whittingham said.
Rising said that he should be “full go” hopefully in the next month or two.
“I’m feeling a lot better,” Rising told Bill Riley on ESPN 700. “I think my strength is coming along, still have a few things that I need to improve on to make sure I’m full strength and ready to go and running as fast as I can, jumping as high as I can and everything like that. But yeah, I think hopefully within the next month or two I should be full go.”