As the calendar turns to March and the sun begins to shine, it always comes with a feeling of excitement and a breath of fresh air.
That's because Utah is set begin its 2021 spring football season, which officially kicked off on Monday, March 15. For one month the Utes will practice before its annual Spring Game, set for Saturday, April 17
Among the expected highlights of spring ball this year will be the position battles at quarterback and running back, where the Utes have been an object of consistency at both positions before Tyler Huntley and Zack Moss moved on to the NFL following the end of the 2019 season.
The quarterback position is one that fans are surely to follow closely as the Utes will be working with two transfers, an incoming freshman and a redshirt freshman to start.
All of them will be practicing for the right to battle against Cam Rising, last year's season-opening starter, for the starter's role this season. With Rising out until at least the summer or fall camp after a shoulder injury and subsequent surgery, the position appears to be wide open.
“Really, the quarterback room is almost a complete rebuild,” Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham said. “Cam will be ready, hopefully, by July. That should make for some interesting competition in the fall.”
Charlie Brewer, the grad transfer from Baylor, is the frontrunner to challenge Rising in the fall — and according to Whittingham a lot of that is because of his prior experience and success in the Big 12.
Brewer is a legit dual-threat after throwing for 9,700 yards, 65 touchdowns and 28 interceptions in 44 games played. He also added 1,039 yards and 22 touchdowns as one of college football's most dynamic talents.
His junior year season is when he shined brightest, leading Baylor to an 11-3 record after throwing for 3,161 yards and 21 touchdowns to just interceptions. He also added 344 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns on the ground.
“We’re elated that we do have him. He went into the portal and we jumped on him right away. We told him what we had to offer here as far as an opportunity,” Whittingham said of Brewer. “Bottom line, Charlie felt good about what our plans were and the opportunity he had here. He felt like it was a good fit. We’re ecstatic that he’s here. He’ll be the guy in spring ball that will get the majority of the reps. We’ll see what happens.”
The biggest threat to Brewer appears to be Ja'Quinden Jackson, a redshirt freshman transfer from Texas who hasn't played a down of football since he was a high school senior in 2019.
Listed at 6-foot-2 and 232 pounds, the Dallas native was ranked as the No. 73 overall prospect and No. 3 dual threat passer in the country last year by the 247sports composite. He threw for 1,711 yards and ran for 1,030 yards as a senior at Duncanville, tallying 37 total touchdowns.
Another dual-threat type, Jackson has at least been in a college program after spending the previous season at Texas. Now fully healthy after recovering from his torn ACL, Jackson will provide stiff competition as his upside is through the rough as he possesses more natural ability and athleticism over anyone else on the roster.
The wildcard in the group is Peter Costelli, a true freshman who enrolled early to get a better jump on the playbook.
One of the best quarterbacks to enter Utah straight out of high school, Costelli possesses rare speed. His athleticism is off the charts as he ran anchor for his school's 4x100-meter time, which was completed in 42.29 seconds, the second fastest time in the state. He also has a personal best of 10.82 in the 100-meter, and all of this during his junior season.
Costelli is rated mostly as a dual-threat quarterback primarily because of his speed, but according to John Garcia of SI All-American, he could easily be a top-10 pocket passing quarterback as well and he sees Costelli as a quarterback who can run rather than a runner who can throw.
Regardless of the way it all shakes out in the end, all of the players are in agreement that the competition is only going to bring out the best in each of them, and with it the team as a whole.