Utah has their 2014 quarterback, and this one will likely stick for more than 24 hours as Donovan Isom made his verbal pledge to the Utes during an unofficial visit. So, what does the quarterback situation look like for the next couple of years? We break it all down starting with 2014.
2014 is shaping up to be a pretty solid quarterback year for Utah. Travis Wilson will be a junior and in his third year as the starter, ready to start pushing for All Pac 12 honors. The incoming freshmen from 2013 will be a year older, a year wiser, and a year better. You'd have to think that at least two of them will redshirt in 2013, with Manning and Thomas the likely candidates to so while running the Scout team. Having both on the scout team is a smart move, as Manning can take the reins on weeks the Utes are playing a team that features a traditional pocket passer like they see against USC and Washington State, while Thomas can play the role of dual-threat in weeks Utah faces guys like Marcus Mariota and Brett Hundley. That leaves Cox as the freshman that plays in 2013 and the likely backup to Wilson in 2014. With the experience he'll gain getting some snaps in 2013, the coaches will be much more confident in making him the backup the following season. Donovan Isom will almost certainly redshirt in 2014 as he's about as raw as any quarterback Utah has brought in, in a long time.
For the sake of argument, we'll assume that there are no transfers or players that change position, although that is a strong possibility. Adam Schulz could move on if he drops down the depth chart, but it's more likely that he finishes up his degree at Utah before doing so, and that probably wouldn't happen until after the 2014 season. Regardelss, The Utes are sitting fairly well heading into next season in terms of depth and experience, something we haven't said in a long time.
Depth Chart Projection
Travis Wilson (Jr)
Brandon Cox (R-Fr or So)
Adam Schulz (R-Jr)
Conner Manning (R-Fr or So)
Micah Thomas (R-Fr or So)
Donovan Isom (Fr)
Things shouldn't change much going into 2015. The players should develop, and Utah could have the best QB situation in the conference with Wilson as a senior. The only problem? Logjam. 8 scholarship quarterbacks could be on the roster. EIGHT!!!!!! The last time a D1 team had 8 scholarship quarterbacks on their roster? I don't think I'm going out on a limb when I say NEVER.
Wilson will be a senior and should be at or near an All Pac 12 level. Schulz will be a senior as well. Cox will be in his third year in the program, and will likely have passed Schulz for the backup spot. Manning and Thomas will be in their third years in the program and ready to contribute in some way. Donovan Isom will most likely be coming off of a redshirt year, but still a year or two away from being ready to see the field.
Chase Hansen will return from his mission and will probably need a year to get himself back in shape. There will almost certainly be discussions about a move to linebacker or safety, and a transfer isn't completely out of the question with the number of quarterbacks on the roster. If Hansen wants to stick at QB, he may have to do it somewhere else.
The 2015 QB recruiting class is stacked. With guys like Kevin Dillman, Ricky Town, Jake Browning, and Josh Rosen all in California, the Utes will have a solid shot at grabbing players that in most years, would be top 10 national quarterbacks. Instead, they might be able to take someone in the 20 to 30 range that is better than their ranking would traditionally indicate. As it stands now, the likely QB commit will come from either St. George (UT) Pine View's Kody Wilsted, or Sam Darnold out of San Clemente (CA). San Clemente produced current starter Travis Wilson, and the Utes have already thrown an offer Darnold's way. An offer to Wilsted would likely produce a quick commitment. Both are Pac 12 quality talents and if the Utes took a quarterback in 2014 (when they really didn't need one), there's no reason to think they won't bring one in for 2015 with the amount of talent out west. That adds another guy to the fold.
For the sake of argument, we'll assume that there are no transfers or players that change position, although by 2015, that is almost a certainty. If Adam Schulz has finished up his degree, and his buried on the depth chart, seeing him move on to a place where he can start his final year is a logical step. The same goes for at least one of the incoming 2013 quarterbacks. If there are two guys ahead of you in the same class on the depth, the writing is on the wall, and a move to another position or another school is likely. The biggest wildcard in all of this is whether or not Travis Wilson is still at Utah. The big guy has NFL size and NFL tools. If he progresses at a solid rate, the NFL waters may be tested early.
Depth Chart Projection
Cox (R-So or Jr)
Manning (R-So or Jr)
Thomas (R-So or Jr)
Isom (R-Fr or So)
Chase Hansen (R-Fr)
2015 Recruit (Fr)
With Wilson gone (assuming he doesn't suffer any injuries and takes a redshirt season), and Schulz gone, theoretically the Utes might not have a player on the roster that has taken a snap before 2016 (although that isn't likely). We'll project Cox as the starter by then, although it could be one of a number of players either already on the roster or future Ute signees. The depth remains and for the sake of argument, we'll assume no one has left or changed positions, but transfers will DEFINITELY happen by 2016 as players are unable to move up the depth chart. What the quarterback roster looks like three years from now is hard to project or say, but Utah should have plenty of depth, if nothing else.
Depth Chart Projection
Cox (R-Jr or Sr)
Manning (R-Jr or Sr)
Thomas (R-Jr or Sr)
Isom (R-JSo or Jr)
2015 Recruit (R-Fr or So)
2016 Recruit (Fr)
The Future Of Utah Quarterbacks
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