Win-Wynn Situation: Utah Utes' Selection Bleeds Shades of 2005

A shell of my former selfCorrespondent IAugust 14, 2009

SALT LAKE CITY - NOVEMBER 22:  Head Coach Kyle Whittingham of the Utah Uteswatches the game against the BYU Cougars at Rice-Eccles Stadium on November 22, 2008 in Salt Lake City, Utah.  (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)

Think back to 2004.

The Utes were lucky enough to have Urban Meyer in their head coaching office, and a tall, thin-framed kid from San Diego had just weaved a 12-0 masterpiece en route to a BCS-busting win and a grasp on the No. 1 overall pick.

That was then. This is now.

Four years later, Brian Johnson, the winningest quarterback in the history of the program, had just done Meyer and that San Diego kid one better.

13-0, another BCS win, and pissing off Nick Saban to the point where he dubbed Johnson the best quarterback the Alabama Crimson Tide saw last year.

That's right. Better than collegiate football Jesus himself, Tim Tebow.

Just as Johnson did in 2005, following up the Helix high star, 2009 will be deja vu for Utes fans who pack Rice-Eccles Stadium.

As Johnson, the Baytown, Texas native, did in 2005, true freshman Jordan Wynn will be replacing a crimson red legend. Wynn, another San Diego kid, graduated from Oceanside High School early enough to get to the U in January, hoping to toss his name into the hat of who would crouch behind center following the mesmerizing 2008 season on the hill.

Already swirling around in that hat was Corbin Louks, the backup to Johnson for the past couple seasons, a speedster who had his own package designed for him by former offensive coordinator Andy Ludwig. There was also Terrance Cain, the JUCO transfer, who led the nation in passing yards at Blinn Junior College in Texas.

Wynn, who reported to spring ball weighing in at all of 160 pounds, was never really looked upon as a threat, but he played his way into consideration. And he did so in style.

In the final spring scrimmage, Wynn announced his presence with outright authority as he showcased to the 4,500 spectators that he had the most potential out of the now three-headed monster that would ensue during the summer.

Throughout the summer, the question would be the hotbed of following the now distant memory of the unforgettable season of perfection and whipping the Tide in the Big Easy.

Louks, the veteran of the three, was expected to receive a challenge from the incoming Cain, a quarterback that reminded many of Johnson.

With fall camp came Wynn, weighing in at 190 pounds, and filling out those football pads for the first time in his career.

Add that new muscle and strength in with the fact that Wynn, a recruit of newly-minted offensive coordinator Dave Schramm, had picked up the extensive playbook and showcased that his arm strength and vision were a force to be reckoned with. Head coach Kyle Whittingham and his staff had a decision to make.

The season opener against Utah State and former defensive coordinator Gary Andersen is on Sept. 3.

Thursday's scrimmage saw Wynn excel, as many expected, and as Whittingham and Co. released the depth chart, the 19-year-old young gunner was penciled in at the spot that was formerly taken up by Johnson and that other San Diego guy.

So, with Wynn comes optimism and severe doubt.

Here, for the third time this decade comes a youngster, with a .357 magnum for an arm and a knack for studying defenses and getting the ball where it needs to be.

When Meyer ushered in the step that was to be taken next, he tabbed Alex Smith (the other San Diego guy, in case you were puzzled) as the future and in two seasons, a 21-1 record proved to be collegiate gold.

Johnson followed with Whittingham and four years later, the result of hard work, resolve, and never-quit-attitude proved to be too much for opposing teams.

A seed was planted. It grew, and grew, and eventually blossomed.

Wynn's arm and hard-work surpassed the two supposed senior statesmen. With the offense having more potent firepower, but less experience, Schramm will be looked upon to build upon his tank running back, senior Matt Asiata, and a slew of versatile wideouts.

Sure, the kid will have his struggles. Yes, it's not a necessary-and-stamped truth that Wynn will even be the opening day starter, or even yet start or play the whole season, but what truly matters is this.

The Utes' recruiting system is blooming into the national spectrum. A 6'1", 160-lb. kid from Oceanside watched in awe of the work and determination that Johnson laid it all out on the line for four years.

Will the inexperience of Wynn be a factor in this, the encore of the 2008 season?

Without question. No doubt.

But as the Utes are turning into the "second-best football factory west of the Rockies" as one college football analyst puts it, they know how to do a few things.

They recruit, they coach, and they win.

The seed with the name Wynn engraved on it has been planted. Time will only tell how long it will take for him to grow out of the ground, high enough to blossom into the next Utah quarterback to prove to the nation that the Utes are for real.

And if the situation wasn't ironic enough, the new guy at the top of the list is donning the No. 3 jersey, the same jersey that electrified Rice-Eccles in heart-stopping fashion.

It's a Win-Wynn. Because, after all, that's all the boys on the hill seem to be doing lately.


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