On a picturesque day for football with the sun shining, Utah concluded spring camp with the “22 Forever” game Saturday, playing in front of fans at Rice-Eccles Stadium.

The Red team, which had the much better roster, defeated the White team 41-21.

Here are three takeaways from the game:

Cam Rising is back

The bad moon rose once again over Rice-Eccles as Cam Rising made his first spring game appearance since 2022 and looked like his old self in a dominant performance.

There was a huge caveat: Rising couldn’t be touched, and the pass rushes were definitely not at the level that Rising will see in an actual game. Even so, there was not much to nitpick about Rising’s performance.

“It was a little surreal. Just fun. Just really grateful for the fans showing support. It was a hard year last year. Just to have that was amazing,” Rising said of the fans giving him a standing ovation as he entered the game.

On his first play from scrimmage, Rising found Dorian Singer for a six-yard gain, and the Red team’s offense was off to the races. Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said postgame that Rising hasn’t missed “one minute” of spring ball, and it was apparent on Saturday.

Fans in attendance, and those watching on TV, got to see a good amount of their starting quarterback as Rising played for three series, stretching well into the second quarter.

The veteran signal-caller finished 15 of 19 for 208 yards passing and two touchdowns, including a pretty 57-yard bomb to Money Parks for a score, which was the highlight of the game.

Rising and Parks connected three times for 73 yards and two scores, picking up right where they left off in the 2022 season. There should be more where that came from, and the pairing is one to watch this season for the Utes.

Three drives led by Rising led to three touchdowns, with a few fourth-down conversions mixed in (there were no punts or kickoffs in the game), and the Red team held a 21-0 lead with 4:24 remaining in the first half.

The offensive success Utah was missing last season was back with Rising at the helm, and in the fall, coaches hope to see drives just like the ones put together on Saturday.

Arm strength was one thing Whittingham mentioned that Rising had to build back following his injury, noting that Rising’s arm strength had gotten better throughout spring and that he had shaken off the rust.

That much was evident in a couple of big throws — the aforementioned 57-yard touchdown to Parks and a 40-yard completion to the USC transfer Singer that wound up being Rising’s final throw of the afternoon.

Players and coaches have said it all throughout camp — the offense just feels different with Rising out there. The arm talent, knowledge and feel of the offense and decision-making that led the Utes to two Pac-12 titles was on full display.

“Exactly where we hoped he would be. He was accurate, moved well in the pocket, good pocket presence, too — which he always does — went through his progressions quick, got the ball out on time. Really couldn’t have asked for anything more than what he gave us today,” Whittingham said.

By design, Utah’s defensive line never put Rising under pressure, though he did have a few moments in which he extended plays with his legs before throwing, like on a touchdown pass to Parks.

Rising has checked every box he can in the spring. The next checklist will come on August 29 against Southern Utah, when he’ll get tackled, have to evade defenders and make real cuts on his surgically-repaired knee at game speed.

So far, so good for Rising.

Dorian Singer looks as advertised

Potentially Utah’s WR1 in the fall, Singer was as advertised, leading all receivers with 92 yards on five receptions.

All of those catches came via Rising. Ute fans will be seeing a lot of the Rising-to-Singer connection this fall, and the chemistry the two have built on their own during the offseason and in spring camp was evident.

“We can do a lot of stuff. We got a pretty good connection. A lot of it’s because we meet outside of football, we always hang out, just building our relationship up so we can have good chemistry on the field,” Singer said.

The highlight of the duo’s production was a 40-yard deep ball, which looked effortless coming out of Rising’s hands. There was another 25-yard reception during the game, and a few short completions.

Singer ran crisp routes, had good hands and showed what he can bring to the team’s receiver room.

“We kind of ran a similar offense when I was at Arizona in ‘22, so it’s just different terminology, but it just helped me just get out there and play fast,” Singer said.

Isaac Wilson’s “big step forward”

The backup quarterback battle between Brandon Rose and Isaac Wilson will extend into fall camp, and it was on display during Saturday’s game.

Rising played longer than anticipated, but after those three series, all eyes were on Rose and Wilson.

Rose started the game on the White team opposite Rising’s Red team, going 1-for-3 passing with two three-and-outs on his two series (The White team had a first down on the second series after Micah Bernard’s run, but it was called back due to holding).

After those two series on the White team, Rose switched to the Red team after Rising’s exit and found more success, completing 8 of 11 for 70 yards, including an 18-yard pass to Cameron Mitchell.

Wilson, who suited up for the White team after Rose was traded to the Red team, came in and made an impact. It took a minute, as his first series of the game was a three-and-out — his first throw of the game was a catchable ball that was dropped by Taeshaun Lyons — but he cashed in on his second drive.

Running backs Mike Mitchell and Dijon Stanley helped the Utes down the field, then Wilson threw a deep shot to a wide-open Luca Caldarella for a 39-yard score.

Wilson had a number of flat-out great throws in his first spring game, including a completion up the seam to Landen King for a score.

“It was an amazing feeling. I saw right down the middle, I threw it. (Landen) dove, he caught it. He did an outstanding job pulling the safety. Just having that first one, many more to come,” Wilson said.

Wilson had another 26-yard pass to King up the middle and a dart to Jett Meine, who made a great catch. In all, Wilson finished the afternoon 8 for 12 for 165 yards and two touchdowns.

The performance by the former Corner Canyon star was impressive for someone who was just playing high school football about five months ago.

“Isaac was really good today,” Whittingham said. “He’s a talented kid. Handled the stage, I guess you could say, very well. He and Brandon will continue to battle into fall camp, but Isaac certainly took a big step forward today.”

Other observations from Utah’s spring game

  • Whittingham said cornerback Cameron Calhoun, linebacker Moroni Anae and defensive tackle Aliki Vimahi stood out on defense. Calhoun, a Michigan transfer, led all players with six tackles and had a tackle for loss and a pass breakup. Anae had a pick-six off a Luke Bottari pass and had an additional pass breakup, while Vimahi had a “sack” of Bottari.
  • Tight end Brant Kuithe made his spring game return. Kuithe was wearing a yellow jersey and was not able to be tackled, but he looked fluid running routes and had two receptions from Rising — a 14-yard catch on fourth-and-3 and an 11-yard catch.
  • The run game was not a big factor Saturday, with Utah opting to go pass-heavy. The Utes passed it 58 times and ran it just 27 times. Micah Bernard was stuffed on both of his two rushing attempts, Mike Mitchell had five carries for 16 yards and a score, Dijon Stanley had the best run of the day, bouncing it to the outside for a 10-yard gain, Jaylon Glover had five carries for 20 yards and a score and Charlie Vincent had a touchdown run.