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Utah concludes its spring camp Saturday with the “22 Forever” spring game (11 a.m., Pac-12 Network), and shortly after that the spring transfer window opens from April 16 to April 30 — the last transfer window before the 2024 season begins.

“We’ll see what happens. We’ll evaluate spring in its entirety once it’s over with. Portal opens this coming Tuesday. So it’s very possible that we may be in the market, but maybe not. We just have to see what we think is best moving forward once we have the chance to look at all the evaluations.”

—  Utah coach Kyle Whittingham on the possibility of adding another QB via the transfer portal

While Utah’s coaches hope there’s no attrition, they also know that it’s probably an unrealistic expectation.

“You never know. Some guys may hit the portal, you’re like, ‘Wow, that was a shocker,’” Utah defensive coordinator Morgan Scalley said.

Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said earlier this week that the Utes have four or five open scholarships to work with as the transfer portal opens, and that number would increase if anyone on the current roster decides to leave.

The most intriguing question pertaining to the transfer portal is if the Utes bring in an experienced quarterback to beef up the backup quarterback competition between sophomore Brandon Rose and freshman Isaac Wilson.

While Rose has experience at Utah — he’s entering his third year — he’s never played in a college game, nor has Wilson.

In a January interview with ESPN 700′s Bill Riley, Whittingham said he wants to have four scholarship quarterbacks — the Utes have three currently with Cam Rising, Rose and Wilson.

“We’re one shy and so the short answer is yes, depending on what happens after spring, we could add another two more,” Whittingham said.

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On Tuesday, Whittingham was more noncommittal when asked if he planned to bring in a transfer quarterback.

“We’ll see what happens. We’ll evaluate spring in its entirety once it’s over with. Portal opens this coming Tuesday. So it’s very possible that we may be in the market, but maybe not,” Whittingham said. “We just have to see what we think is best moving forward once we have the chance to look at all the evaluations.”

Offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Andy Ludwig said on Wednesday that if Whittingham wants to bring a transfer portal quarterback in, he’s on board.

“If the head coach wants to do that, that’s what we’ll do,” Ludwig said.

Right now, the two viable options for Rising’s backup are Rose and Wilson. An upbeat Ludwig sounded satisfied with their play so far this spring.

“I’m fired up with the growth and maturity of Brandon Rose,” Ludwig said.

After a fall camp injury that extended into the 2023 season essentially knocked Rose out of the backup competition last year, the third-year quarterback has made serious strides through spring camp.

“He’s made the absolute most of that time,” Ludwig said. “He’s come back a better player, more confident, more poised in the pocket, better system understanding, so I’m very pleased with his progress to date. There’s still plenty of work to do through the course of the summer.”

Wilson has also impressed this spring with his physical attributes and has picked up the offense quickly, though he still has some work to do in that area.

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Utah’s ‘swagger’ returns on offense with Cam Rising under center

“With Isaac Wilson, the skill set is definitely there, but you’re talking about a young man that was a high school senior on Friday and then came in, was a college freshman on Monday, so he’s still learning a lot,” Ludwig said. “But the arm talent, the athleticism and the football savvy are there. He’s just still learning the ins and outs of Utah offensive football.

On Tuesday, Whittingham called the competition a “dead heat” still.

Rising has had a front-row vantage point of the competition all spring and says it’s been a back-and-forth affair.

“It’s really iron sharpens iron. Brandon will make a play, then Isaac will come in and make a play,” Rising said. “They’re just really going at it with each other. It’s fun to watch and see them compete and take advantage of each and every day to make sure that they get better and can prove that they’re the guy for the job.”

On offense, Utah is fairly set in terms of depth at all position groups, so Ludwig is looking for instant-impact players as the spring portal opens.

Other offensive coaches — wide receivers coach Alvis Whitted and offensive line coach Jim Harding — shared their philosophies on the transfer portal.

Right now, Utah looks to have talent in the receiver room, headlined by USC transfer Dorian Singer and returning receivers Money Parks, Mycah Pittman and Munir McClain, and redshirt freshman Daidren Zipperer is generating buzz in spring camp.

Whitted will still look to the transfer portal this window to see if the Utes can bolster that room even more.

“Always looking to find ways to improve our football team and the position group,” Whitted said. “I do think that it continues to breed competition so no one gets comfortable and guys are on the up and up and the mindset of, ‘Hey, I got to stay on top of my game at all times.’”

Along the offensive line, Harding is satisfied with the depth of his current group — three returning starters in Spencer Fano, Michael Mokofisi and Kolinu’u Faaiu and two players that played at times last season in Caleb Lomu and Tanoa Togiai, to name a few — but losing players to the transfer portal is always in the back of his head.

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“I hope that does not happen, but as it sits today, I’m really happy with the kids in the room and I think that we can have a darn good season, but the depth is something that you’re always concerned about with the transfer portal and things like that,” Harding said.

Harding prefers developing players from when they are freshmen, but if there’s a player in the transfer portal that’s an upgrade and wants to come to Utah, he’ll take him.

“If there’s a kid that can help us and get us to the next level, we’re always looking to upgrade, but if I could choose, I would rather take a kid that we recruited as a freshman developed through the course of his career and get that end product,” Harding said.

The only area of concern depth-wise for Scalley is at cornerback. Utah’s projected starting lineup is Zemaiah Vaughn and Kenan Johnson on the outside, with Smith Snowden at nickel. Others along the two-deep could be redshirt freshman CJ Blocker, freshman Cameron Calhoun, sophomore Elijah Davis and sophomore Nick Howe, so there could be a need for a more experienced backup.

“I think I’m always uncomfortable with depth at corner, so if there’s going to be a transfer portal, it would probably be at the corner position. Every other position I feel pretty good,” Scalley said.

The position groups he feels good about depth-wise includes linebacker, even with Levani Damuni’s lower leg injury that should keep him out for the majority, if not all, of the 2024 season.

Utah is confident in the ability of Sione Fotu to slide in at LB3, with sophomore Trey Reynolds, senior Josh Calvert, junior Moroni Anae, and freshmen Hunter Andrews and Kana’i Lopes providing depth.

“I do not feel one bit that we’re down at the linebacker position,” Scalley said.

In case you missed it

Utah gymnastics is headed to its 48th straight trip to NCAA nationals after a rally to remember at the Gainesville regional.

From the archives

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College baseball lifer Gary Henderson has Utah on the upswing
Utah women's basketball ‘raised the standard’ in a trying yet successful season

Extra points

  • Utah’s backup quarterback race is a ‘dead heat’ (Deseret News)
  • Utah’s ‘swagger’ returns on offense with Cam Rising under center (Deseret News)
  • Who will step up for Utes in wake of Levani Damuni’s injury? (Deseret News)

Up next

  • April 11-13 | All day | Track and field | Bryan Clay Invitational | Azusa, Calif.
  • April 12 | 5 p.m. | Lacrosse | at Mercer | Macon, Georgia
  • April 12-14 | Softball | at Arizona State | Tempe, Ariz.
  • April 12-14 | Baseball | at Arizona State | Tempe, Ariz.
  • April 16 | 11 a.m. | Baseball | vs. UVU | Salt Lake City
  • April 17 | 5 p.m. | Softball | vs. Weber State | Salt Lake City

All times MDT.

Utah quarterback Brandon Rose prepares to throw during 2024 spring camp. Rose and incoming freshman Isaac Wilson are competing for QB2 duties.
Utah quarterback Brandon Rose prepares to throw during 2024 spring camp. Rose and incoming freshman Isaac Wilson are competing for QB2 duties. | Utah Athletics