Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said rather plainly he did not expect his quarterback room to be crowded heading into the 2024 season. With Cameron Rising announcing his decision to return for a seventh year, Whittingham said the staff was expecting attrition around him in the room.

Bryson Barnes and Mack Howard both announced on Monday they are entering the portal. That news comes several weeks after Nate Johnson revealed plans to enter the portal and leave the program.

Johnson started three games this season. Barnes started eight. He won the job out of camp and started the first two games, but was replaced late in the win over Baylor in Week 2 and backed up Johnson for each of the next three games.

In the second half of the Oregon State loss, Utah went back to Barnes, and he started the next six games.

Barnes initially walked on at Utah. At the end of the 2021 season and then again at the end of the 2022 season, injuries to Rising in the Rose Bowl forced Barnes into late action. He also made a spot start against Washington State in 2022.

This season, Barnes was placed on scholarship. He led a win over USC on Oct. 21 and helped deliver a record day in a 55-3 pounding of Arizona State on Nov. 4. Barnes closed out the season with 1,517 passing yards, 12 touchdowns, and nine interceptions.

According to KSL’s Josh Furlong, Barnes plans to stay with the team long enough to play in the bowl game. Utah faces Northwestern in the Las Vegas Bowl on Dec. 23.

Howard is the other quarterback to hit the portal for the Utes. The true freshman from Columbus, Mississippi, did not appear in a game for Utah this season. He signed with the program as a 3-star prospect in the 2023 class.

With three departures, the picture looks a little clearer now for Utah heading into the 2024 season.

If he’s healthy, Rising will be the starter. Brandon Rose and incoming freshman Isaac Wilson will provide depth behind him.

If not for an injury in camp, Rose looked like he may have been on his way to winning the job this season. Instead, he missed the entire year to save a medical redshirt. Utah is particularly excited about Wilson, the 4-star passer from Draper (Utah) Corner Canyon.