After being forced out of full-contact activity for all of spring ball due to a intracranial brain injury, Utah Utes quarterback Travis Wilson was cleared by doctors on Tuesday, June 23 to play football again.
The news will be welcoming to a Utes team that had envisioned–and more or less planned–to use either Oklahoma transfer Kendal Thompson or red shirt freshman Connor Manning if Wilson couldn’t play.
With Travis Wilson cleared to play, it doesn’t necessarily mean he’s sewn up the starting job–because a starter has not yet been named–but on the heels of having what most would consider to be a successful season prior to his brain injury and concussion against Arizona State, you would have to like his chances.
Wilson threw for over 1,800 yards and 16 touchdowns against 16 interceptions–with a passing efficiency rating of 129. He also ran 81 times for 386 yards and had five rushing touchdowns, second most among all Ute rushers in 2013.
Wilson appeared to have suffered the injury during a game against Arizona State last November–but nothing was conclusive. He also suffered a concussion in that game according to medical personnel on scene.
A follow-up test in February showed that no further damage had been discovered and that his condition was stable. He returned to the practice field this spring under a no-contact mandate and played well wearing a black no-contact jersey.
“I’m happy I’ve been cleared to play again,” said Wilson in a press release on Tuesday. “My condition is stable and the neurosurgeon predicted it will remain stable in the future. I had a feeling nothing would change from the previous scan, so I’ve been working to get back into shape. I feel totally comfortable about returning to football and full contact. I believe I’ve been playing with this condition for awhile and never even knew about it. I’m going to keep playing just the way I’ve always played. I knew something positive would come out of the whole thing.”
The Utes obviously hope that other positives result from Wilson’s return to the team at full capacity. Utah was 4-2 and hit a rough two-game skid in the Pac-12 last year against USC and Arizona before the injury to Wilson.
After his injury, the Utes lost that game against ASU and two more games before rebounding in the season finale with a win over rival Colorado to cap a second straight 5-7 season.
Had Wilson, now a junior, been on the field in games at Oregon or at Washington State, you might be talking about a Utah team that made a bowl game last year and had a winning season. At any rate, the Utes will get him back for two more years, which is two more shots at making bowl games and reaching lofty expectations that both he and Utah Utes fans have set.