by Zach Reger
Happy Swoop Saturday Utes Nation!
Last May, the main debate was who the quarterback would be for the Utah Utes in 2020. Well, the Utes are at it again for the 2021 season. Yet another high-profile quarterback transfer came to Salt Lake City to make the quarterback room much more competitive. Last year, it was Jake Bentley from South Carolina. This year, it is Charlie Brewer from Baylor.
While Brewer and last year’s starting quarterback, Cam Rising, are the most likely candidates for the starting job in 2021, they are not the only two talents in the Utah quarterback room. In fact, this could be the most talented QB group that the Utes have had in school history.
Outside of Brewer and Rising, the Utes also landed freshman transfer Ja’Quinden Jackson from Texas. Jackson was a four-star recruit coming out of college and was the number three dual-threat quarterback in the country. After a season at Texas, he transferred to Utah and is still a freshman due to the extra year of eligibility being granted due to the pandemic.
Jackson has good size at 6’2” and 232 lbs. He can make defenders miss with his elusiveness while also being able to break tackles. He is seen as a run-first quarterback. It will be exciting to see his arm develop under Ludwig.
Utah has had success with mobile quarterbacks in the past. Jackson looked explosive in the Utah Utes Spring Game. He carried the ball nine times for 31 yards. His long was an 18-yard scamper.
Jackson will be exciting to watch in the red and black. This is especially true if he improves his arm talent and gets more comfortable throwing the ball. He will most likely not be in the mix for the starting role in 2021. However, he brings a lot of athleticism to the quarterback room and will get a chance to be the QB1 in years to come.
You can listen to the latest episode of The Hive Sports podcast to get more details on this position preview.
While transfers are happening more now than ever, recruiting out of high school is still important when building a program. The Utes did a great job at that with Peter Costelli. He is another four-star quarterback. The much-anticipated recruit was the number ten ranked pro-style quarterback coming out of high school.
Don’t misinterpret the term “pro-style” though. Costelli can move. In high school, he clocked a 4.65 second 40-yard dash and has shown his arm strength many times. Like Jackson, 2021 does not seem like the year for Costelli to get much playing time. Nevertheless, the future for the young freshman is bright in Salt Lake City.
Rising is 1-0 in quarterback battles at Utah, but he is now likely facing his toughest task yet. He beat out Jake Bentley in 2020 due to his athleticism and accuracy throwing the ball. Rising only had about three possessions before facing a season-ending injury. He did a good job moving the Utes down the field, but still made a few mistakes. This was understandable since it was Utah’s first game in almost a full calendar year and the whole game was full of mistakes against the Trojans.
While Rising was ruled out for Spring Camp, he should be ready to go for Fall Camp. He is the most likely guy in the quarterback room to challenge grad-transfer Charlie Brewer. Rising has the experience, accuracy, and decision-making to lead the Utes to a Pac-12 Championship.
Here he is: the projected starter for the Utes in 2021. He is the only player who is not a four-star recruit on this list. He still has the most on-field experience by far. Brewer was a four-year starter for the Bears and led them to the 2019 Sugar Bowl. In his college career, Brewer has thrown for 9,700 yards and 65 touchdowns. It will be quite the transition as he is coming from a Big-12 air-raid attack to a pro-style offense in Utah.
Brewer has still been up to the task so far. He threw the ball a perfect 15/15 for over 150 yards and two touchdowns in the Spring Game. Like some other quarterbacks in the room, Brewer can run the ball sneakily well. He ran for over 1,000 yards and 22 touchdowns in his four years at Baylor. It served as a great change of pace for the Baylor offense. Besides Brewer, the quarterback room at Utah is very young. Brewer’s experience should help in multiple ways.
While the battle is just beginning, the quarterback room in Salt Lake City is very exciting. All four of them have the talent to improve the Utes program for 2021 and for years to come.
Featured image courtesy Utah Athletics