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Is the Cam Rising era nearing an end for the Utes?

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SALT LAKE CITY — Moments before the Utah players left the postgame press conference after beating Stanford 42-7 in the team’s last game at Rice-Eccles Stadium this season with a record undefeated junior quarterback Cam Rising offered a glimpse of his future with the program.

Hours earlier, Rising took part in the senior night festivities and was honored by the university for his time with the program. So when asked if this was Rising’s last game in Salt Lake City, his answer was, “I think so.”

It’s definitely called a blur, although it’s hard to see it coming back.

Heading into the season, after leading Utah to its first Pac-12 championship and Rose Bowl appearance in 2021, Rising was expected to leave after the end of the year to grab a opportunity in the NFL.

And while that’s likely to stay his way, there’s still a slim chance he’ll return for another season. But don’t count on it.

“That’s the plan right now, but we’re not focusing on that right now,” Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham said of his starting quarterback’s decision to quit. probably the program. “We’re focused on that next game, but those guys that you saw honored and recognized today, that’s probably their plan.

“There could be changes, nothing is set in stone with the guys who are still eligible.”

There’s a chance he’ll return, but after five seasons of college football, including a redshirt season in Texas, the Rising era is coming to an end.

This season, Rising has thrown for 2,225 yards, 19 touchdowns and had just four interceptions in nine games played this season, which ranks him No. 5 in total QBR, according to ESPN. That ranks just below Heisman prospects CJ Stroud (Ohio State), Hendon Hooker (Tennessee), Bo Nix (Oregon) and Drake Maye (North Carolina).

Extend that to the top 10 and Rising is just above Caleb Williams (USC), Stetson Bennett (Georgia), Dorian Thompson-Robinson (UCLA), Jordan Travis (Florida State) and Bryce Young (Alabama). It’s great company to sandwich for the Utah quarterback, and one that ranks him among the best in the country.

How that translates to the NFL is speculative at best, but Rising’s stock probably isn’t going to improve much by returning for another season. Several NFL scouts have been in attendance for Utah games this season, so Rising has enough tape to give teams a good look at what he could offer if he made the jump to the next level.

Given Rising’s production this season, he’s on pace to throw for 2,967 yards, 25 touchdowns and five interceptions — assuming he’s playing in Utah’s bowling game and Utah doesn’t participate. not at the Pac-12 Championship game. He would easily be one of the most productive quarterbacks to come through Utah, second only to Tyler Huntley’s 2019 season in the Pac-12 era, despite Rising having more touchdowns.

With Rising under center, Utah’s offense has never been better under a team led by Kyle Whittingham. Utah is averaging 39.3 points and 462.4 total yards (252.3 passing yards) per game this season. That’s an improvement from last season’s 36.1 points and 431.4 total yards (214.3 passing yards) per game, which also featured more consistent running play.

The closest next season for Utah with this type of offensive outing was in 2019 when Huntley’s offense averaged 32.3 points and 429.0 total yards per game. The 2004 season, which was Urban Meyer’s final season as head coach and had Alex Smith at quarterback, Utah averaged 45.3 points and 499.8 total yards per match.

Rising isn’t quite on Smith’s level in terms of pure statistical output, but he’s close enough to rival a No. 1 pick in the 2005 NFL Draft. won’t be a No. 1 overall pick and certainly not a first-round pick, but he did what he could to put Utah in a better position while showcasing his talent at the same time. .

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Josh is the athletic director of KSL.com and editor of athletics at the University of Utah – primarily football, men’s basketball and gymnastics. He is also an Associated Press top 25 voter for college football.

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