The 2023 college football season is 95 days away, with Week 0 kicking off on Friday, Aug. 25.
Utah won’t host the Florida Gators for 100 more days, while BYU (vs. Sam Houston State) and Utah State (at Iowa) don’t play for 103 days.
There’s a lot of time remaining until college football returns, which means we are smack dab in the middle of rankings season.
From now until the start of the 2023 season, anything and everything to do with college football will be ranked. Coaches, teams, individuals, stadiums, fanbases. You name it and someone will compile a ranking of the best and the worst.
Ranking SEC coaches by who would win a 40-yard dash:— Barrett Sallee 🇺🇸 (@BarrettSallee) May 22, 2023
1. Billy Napier
2. Clark Lea
3. Zach Arnett
4. Shane Beamer
5. Kirby Smart
6. Eli Drinkwitz
7. Hugh Freeze
8. Lane Kiffin
9. Mark Stoops
10. Josh Heupel
11. Brian Kelly
12. Nick Saban
13. Jimbo Fisher
14. Sam Pittman
There have already been some, with The Athletic releasing its ranking of the top coaches in the sport (Utah’s Kyle Whittingham was recognized).
On Monday, ESPN got in on the fun, with Bill Connelly ranking the top 75 quarterbacks of the 2000s.
The names at the top aren’t surprising. Stars like Baker Mayfield (Oklahoma), Cam Newton (Auburn), Vince Young (Texas), Tim Tebow (Florida) and Joe Burrow (LSU), though the order can be debated.
There were plenty of connections to college football in Utah, too.
Utes’ star Alex Smith was the highest-ranked quarterback on the list that came out of Utah, slotting in at No. 40 on Connelly’s list.
The No. 1 overall pick in the 2005 NFL draft, Smith “was a steady, safe option for a defense-heavy Utah team in 2003, but in 2004 he became the perfect vessel for the Urban Meyer offense, leading the Utes to an unbeaten season, finishing fourth in the Heisman voting and flashing enough potential to go No. 1 in the 2005 draft,” Connelly writes.
BYU was also represented, with New York Jets quarterback Zach Wilson making the cut at No. 63.
“The best BYU QB since Steve Sarkisian,” Connelly writes. “He first made waves by going 18-for-18 for 317 yards in a bowl romp as a freshman, then he finished his career as a top-10 draft prospect after posting 3,692 yards and a 196.4 passer rating in 2020.”
Other ranked quarterbacks connected to college football in Utah include:
- Andy Dalton, TCU — Ranked No. 64, Dalton led the Horned Frogs at the end of their time in the Mountain West Conference, battling with (and dominating) both the Cougars and Utes on multiple occasions.
- Matt Barkley, USC — Ranked No. 61, Barkley welcomed the Utes into the Pac-12 Conference in 2012 with 303 passing yards and three touchdowns in the Trojans’ 38-28 victory.
- Kellen Moore, Boise State — Ranked No. 14, Moore was undefeated against teams from Utah (Utah and Utah State) during his collegiate career, throwing for a combined 1,171 yards and eight touchdowns against the Aggies and Utes.
The full list of all 75 ranked quarterbacks can be found here.
The Utes’ (Cam Rising) and Cougars’ (Kedon Slovis) are set at quarterback entering the 2023 college football season, barring injury, while Utah State has an on-going quarterback competition between Cooper Legas and Levi Williams.
Rising is rehabbing from a torn ACL, but the Utes are confident he’ll be back for the upcoming season.
“The guy has a history and an internal makeup and fortitude that being a great player, being a great Utah teammate, is so important to him,” Utah offensive coordinator Andy Ludwig told the Deseret News’ Jeff Call. “He’s going to do everything possible to get himself ready to go.”
As for Slovis, he is the guy for BYU, after transferring in from Pitt.
“He throws some dimes. He throws a good ball. So it is easy to just get along with him and see him as that ultimate leader and put him in that leadership position that we need,” BYU tight end Ethan Erickson told the Deseret News’ Jay Drew. “He came in at full stride. I don’t think at any point he has held us back whatsoever.
“He has propelled all of us, and it is unbelievable that he has learned the offense this fast. He is such a smart guy, and he gives a lot of positive reinforcement. I love him 100%. I am excited for him to be with us.”
Legas and Williams will battle for the Aggies’ QB1 job during fall camp, although Legas is the returning starter and favorite to hold onto the job.
“It’s Coop’s job to lose. It was going into the spring and he didn’t really do anything to lose it,” Utah State coach Blake Anderson said. “Levi did a great job of developing and getting better. He did not overtake Coop by any means. I think Levi is going to try to make it very uncomfortable and close that gap.
“What we’re doing fits Coop really well. If he can just develop a little bit better sense of anticipation and avoid the loss on short yardage plays or the turnover, then he can absolutely run our offense.”