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Sources: Utah QB Rising won’t start vs. UCLA

Utah star quarterback Cam Rising will not start against No. 22 UCLA on Saturday for the No. 11 Utes as he continues his recovery from an ACL tear in the Rose Bowl, multiple sources told ESPN.

Nate Johnson, the dynamic back-up who leapfrogged Bryson Barnes on the depth chart, is expected to start his second straight game for the Utes, sources said.

Rising’s availability against the Bruins is uncertain. He was given clearance to practice without limitation in early September and was given positive reports by coach Kyle Whittingham earlier this week about how he looked in practice.

Rising has yet to play this season for Utah.

Johnson led Utah’s comeback win at Baylor two weeks ago, scoring the game-tying touchdown on a 7-yard fourth-quarter run. That performance led to Whittingham making the switch between the backups, and Johnson started and played well in a 31-7 victory over Weber State last week.

Johnson is a 6-foot-1, 195-pound dual threat quarterback with unusual speed for the position. He also threw for 193 yards against Weber State. On the season, he has three rushing touchdowns and is averaging 4.5 yards per carry.

He has completed 68.8 percent of his passes, as he had significant roles as a change-of-pace quarterback in Utah’s first two games before becoming the starter.

Rising has led Utah to back-to-back Pac-12 titles, and his status has been one of the biggest questions hanging over the sport this month. Whittingham has told media locally that the medical clearance on Rising’s return isn’t up to the Utah medical staff.

Rising’s ACL was repaired by noted orthopedic surgeon Dr. Neal ElAttrache, and earlier in the month Whittingham told the Deseret News of ElAttrache: “The ultimate guy that says thumbs-up, thumbs-down for playing, and right now we don’t have that thumbs up.”

Rising is one of the most accomplished players in the sport, as he threw for 3,304 yards and 26 touchdowns last year before the injury in the Rose Bowl. With Rising under center, Utah has registered back-to-back 10-win seasons and Pac-12 titles. Utah is 3-0 without him this year and plays UCLA in a battle of undefeated teams.

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