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Spring football practices are winding down at the University of Utah.

Fans will have their chance to watch the two-time defending Pac-12 champions Saturday when the Utes host their annual spring game — rebranded as the Forever 22 Game — at noon at Rice-Eccles Stadium.

The school announced last month that the new name of the spring game will pay tribute to fallen Utes Ty Jordan and Aaron Lowe, who both wore No. 22 during their time at Utah.

“Those guys are in our thoughts and minds around the clock all year long. It’s not like we only remember them at certain events,” said coach Kyle Whittingham. “They’re always in our thoughts. It’s going to be a nice day and another way to honor them and we’ll continue to keep their memory alive.”

The biggest storyline of the spring has been, of course, the battle for the backup quarterback job behind starter Cam Rising, who has been sidelined as he recovers from knee surgery.

Brandon RoseBryson Barnes and Nate Johnson have received the majority of reps, with Rose separating himself while Johnson has missed practices due to an injury. How will they perform in the Forever 22 Game?

Saturday will provide fans with the first glimpse of the 2023 team. The Utes kick off the season on Aug. 31 against Florida at Rice-Eccles Stadium.

In case you missed it

Former Utah basketball guard Brandon Jessie died at 48, the university announced on Tuesday. A key part of Rick Majerus’ 1994-95 and 1995-96 teams, Jessie transferred to Utah from Ventura Junior College and instantly became one of the Runnin’ Utes’ most productive players. He averaged 16.1 points, 5.9 rebounds and 2.4 assists, good for the second-most points on the 1994-95 team, just behind Keith Van Horn.

From the archives

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Extra points

  • Utah baseball makes history in 29-14 victory over BYU (Deseret News)
  • Which Utah players have surprised, turned heads this spring? (Deseret News)
  • Utah college basketball transfer portal tracker (Deseret News)
  • Are the Olympics the future for Grace McCallum, Amelie Morgan or Kara Eaker? (Deseret News)
  • Another year, another third-place finish for Utah. Not for a lack of trying though (Deseret News)
  • Will Utah or BYU have more NFL draft selections this year? (Deseret News)

Fanalyst

Normally you lose a starting center, and to your archrival at that, and you are in trouble on the offensive line. But that does not appear to be that much of an issue for coach Whitt. Unclear why Maile split for Provo, but as coach always says, next man up! And apparently there is a good deal of talent available to play on the offensive line in general. With the exception of wideout, Utah’s offense looks as good or better than last year and that’s a good place to be as you close out spring ball. Next team up ... Florida!!! Go Utes!!!

— stathis

It was disappointing, the vault series was awful. We have two of the six participants that don’t even have 10.0 start values. That is an issue to win the NC in my opinion. Yes, if Grace could have been back in the vault lineup, perhaps the Utes would have scored higher. But the other three events went pretty well on Saturday. I don’t think our floor routines are the super outstanding types, but the scores are pretty decent. Utah excelled on bars this past weekend, and beam was unbelievable. But Oklahoma is unbelievable on every event. we are outstanding on 2 of 4. That needs to change. We are so lucky Maile is returning, I’m not a big Rucker fan, but she did not fall on her behind as many times this year on the vault as last year. I think we should be getting more out of Kara Eaker, only ONE event yet she made the previous Olympic team, is there a hidden story here? McKenna has a bright future and gave us added depth. I bought the whole dream of “this was the year.” I think this article was on point, plateau is really a good word to describe this unbelievably consistent and excellent program, but this falling short at the NC is tough to take. I do believe they gave it their all and wanted to win badly. We are ridiculous for being critical of a top 3 team. Hoping with graduation the other final four schools are not as deep next time. Great season, GO UTES!

—JD

Up next

April 21 | 7 p.m. | Baseball | vs. Arizona | @Tucson, Arizona | Arizona Live Stream-3
April 21 | 8 p.m. | Softball | vs. Washington | @Seattle, Washington | Pac-12 Networks
April 22 | 4 p.m. | Softball | vs. Washington | @Seattle, Washington
April 22 | 7 p.m. | Baseball | vs. Arizona | @Tucson, Arizona | Arizona Live Stream-3
April 22 | Noon | Football | 22 Forever Game | @Salt Lake City | Pac-12 Networks
April 23 | 1 p.m. | Baseball | vs. Arizona | @Tucson, Arizona | Arizona Live Stream-3
April 23 | 1 p.m. | Softball | vs. Washington | @Seattle, Washington | Pac-12 Networks

Utah gymnasts pose with the trophy after finishing third at the NCAA women’s gymnastics championships Saturday, April 15, 2023, in Fort Worth, Texas. | Tony Gutierrez, Associated Press