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QB Tyler Huntley to start opener for Utah against North Dakota

Sophomore Tyler Huntley has won the quarterback competition at Utah and will start the opener for the Utes against North Dakota, the school announced Monday.

Huntley was in a three-way competition with last year's starter, senior Troy Williams, and Alabama transfer Cooper Bateman. Williams, who was voted a team captain for a second consecutive season, will serve as the backup with Bateman as third string.

As a true freshman in 2016, Huntley's playing time was limited. He attempted passes in two regular-season games -- the opener against FCS Southern Utah and at San Jose State -- before seeing an elevated role against Indiana in the Foster Farms Bowl, when he connected on his lone pass attempt for 36 yards and ran for 23 yards and a touchdown on eight carries.

As a senior at Hallandale High in Florida, he was named the state's Gatorade Player of the Year after throwing for 3,636 yards with 42 touchdowns and 10 interceptions.

If the decision comes as a surprise, it is because Utah went 9-4 with Williams as the starter. There were times last year when it seemed Williams, who began his career at Washington, had a chance to develop into an effective Pac-12 starter. His play was key in the Utes' win against USC, but he struggled over the second half of the year.

Williams threw for 2,757 yards (53.1 percent completion percentage) with 15 touchdowns and just eight interceptions, but completed just 48 percent of his passes over the final eight games.

Huntley, it seems, benefited from the arrival of new offensive coordinator Troy Taylor. Taylor, who played quarterback at Cal (1986-89) and briefly with the New York Jets, spent last season as the coordinator at FCS Eastern Washington and was a record-breaking high school coach in Northern California before that when he coached Washington's Jake Browning.

Bateman transferred and walked on at Utah knowing he was a longshot to win the job. At Alabama, he completed 49 of 66 passes for 410 yards and started just one game.