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SALT LAKE CITY — Following a disappointing loss to San Diego State on Saturday, Utah has more clarity in its quarterback room.
Cameron Rising, who was inserted into Saturday's game and led a comeback that narrowly fell short in triple overtime, was officially named the starting quarterback Tuesday when the university released an updated depth chart ahead of Saturday's game against Washington State. Rising's backup listed was Texas transfer Ja'Quinden Jackson, who has been the No. 3 quarterback this season.
Not named in the depth chart was senior quarterback Charlie Brewer, who was the team's starting quarterback in the first three games of the season before being sidelined. Brewer's time with the program, however, has come to an end.
"Charlie has decided to move on and we wish him the best," Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham said in a statement provided to KSL.com.
On Monday, Whittingham said the team wasn't going to make an official announcement on its starting quarterback, but that the program had "a solid idea" of the direction they were going. The writing, however, was on the wall as Rising led a spark to the offense.
Without confirming Rising was named the starter, coaches and players on Monday pointed to the offense led by Rising as the type of offense the team wanted to have moving forward.
"If you kind of look at the fourth quarter of the last game, I think that's the offense that we have a good shot of being — playing fast, playing aggressively, wearing the other team down, and that's, I think, going to be our offensive identity," tight ends coach Freddie Whittingham said. "We're not going to change as far as, you know, our basic philosophy and everything that we do. We've just got to put more points on the board, and that's the focus going forward."
But with Rising leading the charge, the players see a teammate they respect and trust. He was named a team captain and is someone the team is ready to rally around.
"A lot of times when people aren't playing, they're kind of sitting on the sideline. It's not that they're pouting, but they're not as hyped and they're not hyping people up as much," receiver Britain Covey said of the situation when Rising was named the backup quarterback at the start of the season. "And then when they do get called in, and you bring that energy, it just feels like a different person, whereas Cam is that person all the time.
"When Charlie won the job, there was no drop-off or disappointment from Cam that you could see. He was still passionate. I think that's what people could rally behind was the fact that we're gonna get that from Cam 24/7 no matter who it is."
We have a depth chart and Cameron Rising is listed at QB1. Ja'Quinden Jackson is listed as QB2. pic.twitter.com/ezUhRByEYj— Josh Furlong (@JFurKSL) September 21, 2021
Kyle Whittingham said Monday the team needs a proven leader at the quarterback position. Leading by example works, he said, but at quarterback the team needs someone with an "Alpha Dog type of mentality."
"Leading by example is great, but it doesn't seem to work as well at the quarterback spot as it does in other spots," Whittingham said.
And to his credit, Rising has been the one to lead the charge — on and off the field.
"I take great pride and just making sure that I'm setting the example and just focus on doing that, but just making sure that everybody stays together and is really locked in on what we're trying to accomplish," Rising said. "That's the most important part of it. Obviously, got the L but it's not where we want to be.
"I think this is a team that has athletes from top to bottom — running back room, receiver room, tight end room, O-line room. We've got everything that we need on this team right now and just making sure that we go out there and play with swagger from the get go."
For wide receiver Devaughn Vele, Rising is the type of leader that works to make everyone comfortable any chance he gets. Whether that's in the halls of the football facility or on the field, Rising is there for his team.
"Cam's a great guy. He's very vocal, he makes sure he lets his voice known and he always tries to get us in the right headspace. Even when Charlie was starting, he would always talk to us on the sideline and make sure everything's good. And that's something that we need, especially during these tough times.
"Not every team is going to be perfect, and everybody understands that's the game of football — nobody's perfect, no team is perfect. But it's finding those right guys that can fix those small little kinks that we have and capitalize on that, and then not focusing so much on the bad but improving on what we need to work on. Cam brings that a lot. He always brings a positive attitude every day. He's always the guy smiling, seeing you in a hallway saying 'what's up,' so he brings a lot to the table."
Rising was named the team's starting quarterback in 2020 before suffering a season-ending shoulder injury to his throwing arm in Utah's first game of the season. Utah's coaching staff elected to name Brewer the starter this season in large part due to playing experience.
Brewer finished his career with 10,184 passing yards and 68 touchdowns. In his three games with Utah, Brewer passed for 484 yards and three touchdowns.