Utah football: Alabama transfer Cooper Bateman settles in with the Utes – Salt Lake Tribune

a = o + r;
try {
var i = n.contentDocument || n.contentWindow.document;
i.open(“text/html”, “replace”);
} catch (c) {}
r(function() {
var reg = new RegExp(“MSIE ([0-9]+[\\.0-9]*)”);
reg.exec(navigator.userAgent) ? 10 === parseInt(RegExp.$1) && (window.onload = function() {
}) : window.onload = function() {

At Cottonwood High, Siale Fakailoatonga and Lo Falemaka tried their best to recruit the top-rated quarterback in the state to join them at Utah. They were not successful.

So imagine, four years later, when that same quarterback, Cooper Bateman, casually let them know they were about to be teammates.

“It’s Alabama — coming out of high school, you definitely want to go to big time schools like that,” Falemaka said. “Now we’ve got me, Siale and Cooper back. It’s a little high school reunion.”

The 6-foot-3 senior and former four-star prospect has gotten a handful of spring practices under his belt with the Utes. Bateman isn’t receiving as many QB reps as clubhouse leaders Troy Williams and Tyler Huntley, but the Alabama transfer could be an X-factor in an open competition for the starting job this fall.



Offensive coordinator Troy Taylor said he was impressed by Bateman: “He works hard and is very polished.”

For his part, Bateman said he knew he would face a difficult climb to playing time by transferring to Utah. For him, that’s not what his transfer was about.

“I knew I wasn’t coming into a great situation, but it was more so coming to play for a cool guy like Coach [Kyle Whittingham], an offense staff like this that actually cares for their players,” he said. “You can enjoy being out there.”

In four years with the Crimson Tide, Bateman enjoyed 51 wins and took home a national title. But he passed for only 410 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions. Even his championship ring from the 2015 season, Bateman said, left him wishing he had contributed a little more to earn it.

He finds himself learning a new offense for the first time in his college career — Bateman said he still mixes up some of the verbiage, but is adjusting well. Some of the newness of Utah is challenging, yet fun in its own way, including his competitors Williams and Huntley.

“It’s a fun QB room,” he said. “They’re really close and they’ve been accepting of me, which was a relief. Troy was the starter last year, he’s established himself. He’s the No. 1 guy now. Tyler played a little bit last year and is playing great now. Teammates love him.”

He sticks close to his former Cottonwood teammates Fakailoatonga and Falemaka. If things go well for Bateman, he’ll work with them even more closely: Falemaka is on track to start at center, while Fakailoatonga is the most experienced tight end on the team.

After grinding through a process at Alabama where he found himself in tight battles with high-profile recruits, the relative lack of egos at Utah has been one of the biggest changes.

“He’s definitely surprised by the environment out here,” Falemaka said. “He’s surprised how nobody acts as if we’re better than another player. Nobody’s high-headed over here. He said he definitely got that vibe over there.”

Williams, who started last year, said competition is the nature of the beast: “It’s good to have another arm out there, more competition. He’s been around the game for awhile.”

Bateman said he learned a lot from his time under coach Nick Saban at Alabama and had fun experiences. But as he finishes his master’s degree in marketing next semester, a change can be good, too.

“I really didn’t know I was coming here until the last second, but I’m glad this is where I ended up back home and stuff,” he said. “I just kinda weighed some options and figured out this was the best for me. At the end of the day, being able to come home was the biggest relief and the best feeling.”


Twitter: @kylegoon