- Kevin Gemmell, ESPN Staff Writer
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A "crazy road." That's how Jordan Wynn described his career to date as Utah's quarterback. He's experienced astronomic highs in 2009 -- wowing the Salt Lake City fan base with the greatest true freshman season in the history of Utah, capped off with an MVP performance in the Poinsettia Bowl. Utah's future was on his shoulders.
Then the injuries set in, and those shoulders began to falter. He knew there were doubters in the 2010 season. He started 10 games, but most of that time, he struggled with injuries that weren't always made available to the public. Many in the fan base that embraced him as a true freshman began questioning if Utah could get it done with Wynn as the quarterback.
"I think that was a real tough time for him," said offensive coordinator Brian Johnson. "He's a tough kid and he found a way to battle back. People in here [within the program] knew the circumstances of his injuries and what he was going through. And I think he gained everyone's respect in this program. But it was a difficult time for him physically and emotionally as well."
Wynn's second year at the helm wasn't as fun as his first.
"It was very stressful," Wynn said, "waking up every day and knowing it was going to hurt whenever I threw a football."
He finally succumbed to the shoulder injury and missed the Las Vegas Bowl, which Utah lost 26-3 to Boise State -- snapping the Utes nine-game win streak in bowls. Surgery on his throwing shoulder followed.
But 2011 didn't offer much in the way of resolution. Another shoulder injury -- this time on his left (non-throwing) shoulder, followed by another surgery -- forced him out for the year after just four games.
So here we are in 2012. Wynn has added about 10 pounds and is up to 210. He's hoping to add another 10 by the start of the season. He's changed his diet and has worked with trainers to find the best way to keep him healthy.
"This has definitely been a rollercoaster ride that I don't wish on anyone," Wynn said. "It's not one of those things where I'd say if I could go back and do it again I would. Because I wouldn't. It's been a tough, crazy road for sure. But I've come out of it and I'm looking forward to the season."
Wynn doesn't attribute the previous injuries to a bad diet or poor conditioning. Rather, it was just bad luck. A hard hit. An awkward fall. He's watched the cut-ups of his various injuries. But he doesn't waste time questioning the ifs or whys. That's just not productive in his mind.
"I can't linger on it, and I don't," he said. "Right now, I'm focused on making plays. I'm an upperclassman now. I'm full strength and healthy. Now I just need to play how I play. There is no doubt in my mind. I just have to go out and put it on the field. There are a lot of good guys around me. It's time to put it all together."
To do that, there are still a few things he'll need to brush up on. In 20 games, Wynn has thrown 31 touchdowns to 16 interceptions with a completion percentage a fraction shy of 60 percent. But there are intricacies of the game he needs to improve.
"Something we talk about all the time is being a master of situations," Johnson said. "Football is a game of situations within situations. In this league, you have to be great at the quarterback spot. So two minutes, third down, red zone; if we can be efficient in those three situations every time we get that opportunity, that's the next step in his progression to becoming a complete player."
To do that, he'll need an injury-free season. And he's hoping the bad luck is behind him.
"I still haven't played a full year since I've been here," Wynn said. "I'm excited for the challenge of getting through a full season and proving that I can handle it."
Once again Utah's future is on Wynn's shoulders. And if he becomes the player many feel he can be, no one is going to care that they are surgically repaired.
1dChantel Jennings and David Lombardi