The Utah Utes and Travis Wilson received great news last week when the quarterback was medically cleared to fully return to football activities. After suffering a concussion last season, doctors discovered that Wilson had a preexisting condition that threatened to end Wilson’s football career for good. While the Utes are happy to welcome back their two-year returning starter from such a scary injury, Wilson still has work to do to win the starting job for 2014.
When healthy, Wilson flashed the ability to be one of the better quarterbacks in the conference, like when he led the Utes to an upset win over the Stanford Cardinal, but struggled with consistency. Against the UCLA Bruins, for example, Wilson threw a preposterous six interceptions (and the Utes only lost by a touchdown). In the final three games before he was shut down with his head injury, Wilson has hampered by injury and he struggled, completing just 31.8 percent of his passes with three touchdowns and six interceptions.
While Wilson is penciled in as the starter for next season, he’s going to have to prove that he can play at a consistently high level or risk losing the starting job to one of the many other contenders the Utes will be looking at for 2014. Chief among them will be Oklahoma Sooners transfer Kendal Thompson. While Thompson didn’t get much of an opportunity to show what he can do on the field at Oklahoma, new offensive coordinator Dave Christensen appears intrigued by Thompson’s ability. That will, at the very least, open up the competition this fall.
Travis Wilson will have the support of the entire Utah community behind him as he makes his return to the football program. But while he returns at the top of the depth chart for now, Wilson still has to prove he’s the man to lead the Utes back to the postseason. With pressure on Kyle Whittingham and the Utah program to start winning in the Pac-12, the margin for error will be slim.