LOS ANGELES — Following a dramatic 36-34 victory over USC on Saturday night, Utah coach Kyle Whittingham announced that starting quarterback Cam Rising, who has not played all season, will be shut down for the rest of the year.
Rising, who has led Utah to back-to-back Pac-12 titles, injured his knee during last year’s Rose Bowl and had to undergo surgery to repair what the senior quarterback later referred to as a torn meniscus, MPFL and MCL along with a torn ACL.
“I wasn’t really expecting to do this, but I just want to let everybody know I didn’t just tear my ACL,” Rising told ESPN 700 earlier this season. “It was a big surgery and it’s not an easy comeback. I’ve been working my tail off.”
Both Rising and Utah had expressed optimism about the senior quarterback being able to play this season despite a long road of recovery since the injury. But while Whittingham said after the Utes’ season opener that Rising had been cleared to practice with the team, last year’s Pac-12 Championship MVP has never appeared close to returning.
“I’m trying to make sure I can be out there because nobody wants to be out there on the field grinding with those guys more than me,” Rising said. “But at the end of the day, it’s my body. My body has to recover.”
With Rising on the sidelines, Utah has relied on both Bryson Barnes and freshman Nate Johnson to take on the snaps under center. The tandem has led the Utes to a 6-1 start. After beginning the year with a two-quarterback system, Whittingham handed Johnson the reins for a few games before most recently turning to Barnes, who shined against USC Saturday.
The junior threw for 235 yards against the Trojans’ defense, adding three touchdowns as well as 57 yards on the ground and a rushing touchdown to boot. Barnes also clinched the game for the Utes by scrambling for a 23-yard gain late in the fourth quarter that allowed Utah kicker Cole Becker to make the 38-yard field goal as time expired.
“They got themselves a Heisman Trophy winner. We got a pig farmer,” Whittingham said, referring to Barnes’ background. The longtime Utes coach also called the win one of his top-5 ever.
While it remains unclear whether Rising, who has been in college since 2018, will return for a seventh year. Whittingham also added on Saturday night that tight end Brant Kuithe, who has also been recovering from a torn ACL he suffered last season, will be shut down for the rest of the year as well.