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What Utah QB Tyler Huntley did to make himself bigger, stronger, better heading into senior year

Utah QBs Jason Shelley and Tyler Huntley laugh during a scrimmage at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City on Friday, April 5, 2019. Laura Seitz, Deseret News
Utah QB Tyler Huntley hands the ball to Devin Brumfield during a scrimmage at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City on Friday, April 5, 2019. Laura Seitz, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah quarterback Tyler Huntley received quite a compliment on the opening day of fall camp. It came from offensive coordinator Andy Ludwig.

"I'm real pleased with Tyler Huntley. He's a football fanatic and works very hard at it. He did a super job over the summer with his strength and conditioning and then studying the game," said Ludwig. "I think Tyler is putting himself in position to play the best football of his career."

Huntley enters his senior year with 19 career starts, leading the Utes to a 12-7 mark. He's played in 23 games overall and has racked up 5,115 yards of total offense — 4,259 passing and 856 rushing.

The numbers, though, don't tell the whole story about Huntley. Ludwig was excited about what he saw on tape after returning as Utah's offensive coordinator in January after more than a decade away and following stints at California, San Diego State, Wisconsin and Vanderbilt. He liked the things Huntley exhibited on the field.

And it's continued to improve.

"Since I've been here he's done just about everything you ask a young guy to do — socially, academically. In the weight room he's changed his body. He's going to graduate," Ludwig said. "He's been well-trained. He's had some very good quarterback coaches and you just try to not overwhelm him with a whole bunch of new stuff, but make sure what he's got going fits into the new stuff that we're asking him to do."

In his four seasons at Utah, Huntley has played for several different quarterback coaches and coordinators. The revolving door began in 2016 when Huntley joined the Utes after a stellar prep career in Florida. That's when Aaron Roderick coached the quarterbacks and shared offensive coordinator duties with Jim Harding. Huntley's sophomore and junior seasons featured Troy Taylor as his position coach and coordinator.

Huntley said the transition to Ludwig is going well.

"Yes sir. He's priming me into a great quarterback and he's teaching me things I've never been taught before," Huntley said. "So I continue to want to learn from him and he's continued to teach me. I can't wait to see what this season has in store for us."

Huntley added that what really stands out is how Ludwig is teaching the offense about recognizing defenses when they come to the line.

"That's really what I like about this offense," Huntley explained. "Just knowing what the defense is going to show us and how we're going to go against it."

In preparation, Huntley has bulked up. He's added 25 pounds to his 6-foot-1 frame. He was sidelined after nine games with a broken collarbone last season and missed three games with an injury in 2017.

"He just lifted hard and was very conscious about his diet," said Utah coach Kyle Whittingham. "He's working closely with our dietician and they've done a great job of directing him on what to eat and what choices to make, when to eat and how to eat and all that stuff."

As such, Whittingham acknowledged that Huntley is absolutely bigger, stronger and better.

Utah QB Tyler Huntley hands the ball to Devin Brumfield during a scrimmage at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City on Friday, April 5, 2019.

Laura Seitz, Deseret News

Utah QB Tyler Huntley hands the ball to Devin Brumfield during a scrimmage at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City on Friday, April 5, 2019.

"He's acting with a lot of confidence. He's got great command of the offense, I can tell you that as well. He worked hard in the summer and was in the film room and knows the offense inside and out," Whittingham said. "He just has a different air about him right now than he had in the first three years."

Now tipping the scale at 205 pounds, Huntley may be better equipped to stay healthy. The Utes hope to keep him over 200 throughout camp.

"It's all good weight. I mean, he's not fat. It was good weight. I think he's got a little more zip on the ball. I think his arm strength is a little better," Whittingham said. "The primary purpose of gaining the weight is to be more durable and we hope that's the case."

In Ludwig's scheme, Huntley will be under center more and Whittingham noted that fits well with his skill set.

"He's a tremendous athlete and the unde-center stuff, the play-action, the boots off, that is something he can excel at," Whittingham said.

Huntley joked that he's been eating everything to get bigger, often dining four times before noon each day. It's paid off in terms of power.

"I'm up there. I'm feeling good about it," Huntley said of his weight gain. "I'm feeling good going into the season."

So good, in fact, that Huntley says it's the best he's felt at Utah. He's 100 percent healthy with no restrictions. The last game he played in was Nov. 3 at Arizona State.

"It always feels good to be out here playing football," Huntley said. "It's a blessing to play football."

• . • . •

Senior starting quarterbacks at Utah in Pac-12 era

Year ... Quarterback ... Record

2015 ... Travis Wilson ... 9-3

2015 ... Kendal Thompson ... 1-0

2012 ... Jon Hays ... 1-2

2017 ... Troy Williams ... 1-2