This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2016, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
There's 2,000 miles between Hallandale Beach, Fla., and Salt Lake City. Dameon Jones didn't travel all that way to see one of his protégés lay an egg.
As it turned out, the former Hallandale High School football coach and a few thousand Utah fans with their own vested interest were treated to a promising passing display from freshman quarterback Tyler Huntley. The reigning Florida Gatorade Player of the Year threw for 233 yards, going 17 for 26 with a touchdown, in a 14-7 win for his White team in Utah's spring game.
Of all the people who came to Rice-Eccles Stadium to get the last glimpse of the Utes before fall camp begins in August, Jones might've been the least surprised by what he saw.
"He's fearless, and he's not afraid to make plays," he said. "He was out there having fun. Whenever he has fun, he plays well."
Huntley seemed to be having a lot of fun Saturday, and he took Utah fans on the journey with him.
He authored arguably the play of the day with a 36-yard strike in the end zone to Caleb Repp, who was draped in coverage. Huntley made the throw off-balance, scrambling from the grip of a Red team pass rusher.
The third-quarter hookup that sealed the White team's win was a sign of rapport that Huntley has developed with receivers: Repp said once he saw Huntley had managed to keep the play alive by rolling right, he knew where the ball was going.
"He can make any kind of throw, and he can read the defense real well," Repp said. "It's not just me, but everybody has a good connection with him because he's willing to put in the time and effort."
Despite being low-scoring, the game itself featured three offensive touchdowns also known as three more than last year's spring finale. The White team's other touchdown was scored by running back Jordan Howard, while running back Marcel Manalo had the Red team's only points on a 9-yard run.
Huntley's only healthy competitor at quarterback labored to move the offense for much of the game. While junior Brandon Cox trumped the rookie in two earlier scrimmages this spring, he was held to 17 for 31 passing with 146 yards and an interception by freshman safety Tyson Cisrow.
While Cox had gained momentum in the position battle toward spring's end, Huntley stated his case on Utah's final live session. In Coach Kyle Whittingham's mind, it's still a three-man race once junior Troy Williams is able to return from injury (sore arm).
"It's going to be heated," he said. "We have three guys we really like."
The game had about a dozen starters on the offensive line, defensive line and secondary sitting out to prevent injury. Many of the game's standouts figure to remain further down the depth chart once fall begins.
But an exception might be Repp, who finished with five catches with 96 yards to lead all receivers. And while tight end Chad Hekking is merely a freshman in an experienced unit, he also was a late reliable target for Cox, with seven catches for 63 yards.
Neither team found much success running the ball, with both combining for 82 yards on the ground. Even the backups on defense still performed admirably: Junior end Kendall Huey had a game-best three sacks, all on Cox (although quarterbacks weren't cleared for full contact).