Early Monday morning, Utah coach Kyle Whittingham was answering questions from reporters about his depth at the running backs position. 

Later that day, just hours later, two of his running backs — junior Devin Brumfield and sophomore Jordan Wilmore — entered the transfer portal.

And just like that, they were no longer part of the Utes’ program. 

Whittingham probably had an inkling, or more, Monday morning that this news was coming.

“When freshmen rise up and do well, upperclassmen sometimes get the notion that maybe they’re not in the plans,” he said. “So we’ll see what happens with that position.” 

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That freshman Whittingham was referring to, of course, is Ty Jordan, who ran for 147 yards and two touchdowns in Utah’s 38-21 win at Colorado last Saturday. The previous week, he rushed for a career-high 167 yards and a TD on 27 carries.

“I give mad props to Ty. He’s a great running back,”  said offensive lineman Nick Ford. “He’s going to be ridiculously good. He already is.”

Jordan has averaged 7.26 yards per carry and 110.8 yards per game, leading the Pac-12 in both categories. He’s ranked No. 15 nationally in rushing. 

“Ty Jordan’s emergence has really given him the lion’s share of the work the last couple of weeks,” Whittingham said. “He’s doing a great job. He’s averaging over seven yards a carry. He’s been a big plus for us.” 

So Utah will be thin at running back as it finishes its regular season Saturday (11:30 a.m., MST, FS1) when it hosts Washington State

Jordan is backed up by redshirt freshman Micah Bernard. 

Tuesday morning, Whittingham addressed the news of the departure of Brumfield and Wilmore, who were listed at the top of the depth chart going into what turned into the first game of the season against USC on Nov. 21.  

“They made the decision that’s in their best interest to move on. They were great members of our program while they were here. They were all-in, all the time,” he said. “Excellent work ethic, great teammates, great students. We wish them all the best. They were major contributors for us. They determined that moving on is best for them and so we support that. We want nothing but success for  them.”

But the timing of their decisions isn’t ideal for the Utes. 

“Once they explained their situations and the thought process they had, I somewhat understood,” Whittingham said. “I sure wish they would have finished out this regular season but that wasn’t the case.”

More and more collegiate athletes are taking advantage of the transfer portal. And this is just a prelude of what’s to come. In January, the NCAA is expected to pass legislation that would allow players to transfer once without penalty of sitting out for one season. 

In other words, transferring could happen even more frequently in the near future, creating even more instability in programs around the country. 

“There’s no question about that,” Whittingham said. 

The coach cautioned that it’s not so simple as leaving one school for another. 

“These guys have to be careful about going into the (transfer) portal because there’s not enough scholarships and opportunities to satisfy everyone that goes into the portal,” Whitttingham said. “You’ve got to be smart and think things through. You’re going to see much more movement and activity than in year’s past. But the portal’s going to be saturated. We’ll see how it all shakes out.”

How did the team react to Brumfield and Wilmore moving on? 

“On the personal level, it hurts. Devin was one of my closest friends here when I first came in,” said wide receiver Solomon Enis. “It hurts seeing guys that you love leave the program. But you have to understand that they’re doing it for their best interest. We’re going to support them no matter what.

“I’m glad those guys are taking the steps to make themselves happy and to help their family out. … Coach Whitt handled it pretty well. The team’s handled it well. But we’re going to for sure miss those guys.”