This time a year ago, Utah quarterback Cameron Rising was in a much different spot than he is now.

The defending Pac-12 champions have a quarterback spot that is about as settled as any in the country. Rising is the guy after an exceptional debut campaign. It wasn’t his job to open the season last year, though; he began on the bench behind the since-departed Charlie Brewer.

Rising took over for Brewer in the third game of the season and led the Utes to their first Pac-12 Title and then nearly to a Rose Bowl win. The Ventura, California, native was an unknown heading into last season.

He’s far from it this time around. Rising is viewed not just as the Utes’ captain and leader, but as one of the top quarterbacks in the Pac-12.

“I don’t know about a different vibe, but there’s a lot of confidence,” head coach Kyle Whittingham told reporters this week, per UteZone’s Steve Bartle, when asked if the team has a different vibe this time around. They know Rising is the guy. And they know he has them positioned to try and repeat as champions.

“They believe in Cam,” Whittingham continued. “He’s a winner. He rallies the troops, which is what you want your quarterback to do.”

For his part, Rising is approaching the year exactly how a coach would hope.

“I still think I need to come out here and compete every day,” Rising said, per UteZone. “If you aren’t getting better, you are getting worse. I have to make sure I’m putting my best foot forward for my team.”

Rising threw for 2,493 yards and 20 touchdowns in 2021. He tossed only five interceptions while completing 64% of his pass attempts. Rising posted a total QBR—a stat Whittingham loves for quarterback talk—of 84.2, the best mark in the Pac-12 and the sixth-best among qualified quarterbacks across the country. 

Any steps forward from Rising should keep the Utes right at the top of the title conversation in both the much-improved Pac-12 South and in the conference overall.