In the words of Utah coach Kyle Whittingham, quarterback Cam Rising’s status is “day to day to day to day to day.”

Perhaps the longtime Utah coach has grown tired of questions nearly every media availability about the status of his star quarterback, but he provided a glimpse into who has the final say in Rising’s return during his Monday press conference.

“He practices as if he was ... playing the game and ready to roll. But until the doctor says it’s go time, we’ll just keep proceeding as we have.” — Utah coach Kyle Whittingham on Cam Rising

Rising received the green light to practice without limitations since at least Sept. 1 after undergoing surgery in January to repair an ACL injury sustained in the 2023 Rose Bowl.

He can do everything in a practice setting except be hit or tackled.

“He practices as if he was ... playing the game and ready to roll. But until the doctor says it’s go time, we’ll just keep proceeding as we have,” Whittingham said.

From Whittingham’s comments on Monday, it appears that the “ultimate” decision on the senior’s return to action rests not with Utah’s medical staff, but with Rising’s ACL surgeon, Dr. Neal ElAttrache.

ElAttrache, who practices in Los Angeles and is the head team physician for the Los Angeles Rams and Los Angeles Dodgers, also performed tight end Brant Kuithe’s ACL surgery.

“(Rising) is under the direction of the (Utah) medical staff and his doctor in particular ... the surgeon is the ultimate guy that says thumbs-up, thumbs-down for playing and right now we don’t have that thumbs-up,” Whittingham said.

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Utah’s ugly win against Baylor showed the Utes need Cam Rising back as soon as possible — and provided clarity on backup QB

Utah has been hoping for Rising’s return to game action for a while, but that final OK from ElAttrache has not come quite yet.

“We get Cam back at some point, hopefully this week, but I’ve been crossing my fingers for a couple weeks now,” Whittingham said.

As the team waits for Rising to be fully cleared to return this week, there’s clarity behind him at the position.

Utes on the air

No. 12 Utah (2-0)
vs. Weber State (2-0)
Saturday, noon MDT
Salt Lake City, Utah
TV: Pac-12 Network
Radio: ESPN 700/92.1 FM

After Bryson Barnes struggled against Baylor, Nate Johnson was put in with 10 minutes left in the game and Utah down by seven.

“Made the decision to put Nate Johnson in and give him the opportunity to show what he can do within the entire drive and he did a great job,” Whittingham said.

Johnson engineered two touchdown drives, leading the Utes to the win, and putting the two-quarterback experiment to rest.

Whittingham made it official, announcing that Johnson will be the starting quarterback against Weber State if Rising is not able to play. If Rising is cleared to play, Johnson is the backup QB going forward.

“I’d say based on the whole body of work that we’ve seen, Nate deserves the chance to be and he’d be the starter if Cam’s not available,” Whittingham said.

Johnson finished 6 of 7 passing for 82 yards and added 32 yards and a touchdown on the ground against Baylor.

“He made some outstanding decisions, outstanding plays,” Whittingham said.

Johnson’s throwing is still a work in progress, Whittingham said, but he’s grown a lot in that aspect of the game. The redshirt freshman has put the ball on the ground three times in Utah’s two wins, but he hasn’t lost any fumbles yet, and has thrown zero interceptions.

“That’s a work in progress as well, but he certainly understands the importance of it and is committed to being better at it,” Whittingham said.

It took two games into the season, but Utah may have its backup quarterback situation finally sorted out. For now, it’s Johnson’s job, and he will likely get extended run against Weber State on Saturday, whether Rising plays or not.

Utah Utes quarterback Nate Johnson runs against the Florida Gators in Salt Lake City on Thursday, Aug. 31, 2023, during the season opener. If Rising is unable to go against Weber State Saturday, Johnson will get the nod at QB. | Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News