On paper, Travis Wilson is the kind of quarterback who makes offense coordinators salivate, and opposing defenses shudder. At 6’6″, 240 pounds, Wilson has good passing and running skills and is exceptionally mobile for a QB of his size.
Hailing from San Clemente, Calif., Wilson was expected to light up the University of Utah’s offense as the starting quarterback in 2013. The season started promising enough, with coach Kyle Whittingham’s Utes posting a 3-2 record through the first five games. A marquee win against Stanford gave the team the look of a Pac-12 contender.
However, Utah’s fortunes—along with Wilson’s—have taken a downward turn of late. The Utes have suffered two straight losses (Arizona and USC) and are now fighting to stay relevant in the highly competitive Pac-12 South Division.
Some of Wilson’s problems can be traced to an injury to his index finger that occurred during the Utes’ game against Arizona on Oct. 19. The injury has clearly affected Wilson’s efficiency throwing the ball—1,118 yards, nine touchdowns and three interceptions in his first four starts of season, versus 588 yards, five touchdowns and 11 interceptions in his four most recent starts.
Against USC on Oct. 26, Wilson played with a protective glove over his banged-up throwing hand, and was largely ineffective. He completed just 5 of 14 passes for 51 yards, throwing two picks and fumbling the ball away while being sacked. He wound up sharing time with backup Adam Schulz, who also struggled.
To his credit, Wilson hasn’t blamed the Utes’ slide on his injury.
“I don’t think it really affected me at all. I was just trying to make throws (against USC), trying to make plays,” he said. “I’ve just got to make sure I get that corrected in practice.”
Wilson has used Utah’s bye week to get healthy. He claims to be fully recovered from the finger injury as the Utes prepare for Saturday’s game against 23rd-ranked Arizona State at Rice-Eccles Stadium.
In 2012, Wilson played as a true freshman in all 12 games for Utah and started the last seven, finishing 3-4 at the helm of the Ute offense. He completed 128-of-204 passes for 1,311 yards and seven touchdowns (with six interceptions). Wilson also rushed 64 times for 40 yards and four touchdowns. He got his first career start at UCLA and completed 23-33 passes for 220 yards, and rushed 11 times for 10 yards. He then passed for a season-high 311 yards against Arizona, completing 28-of-40 passes with two touchdowns and no interceptions. In addition, Wilson completed 17-of-21 passes for 171 yards and two touchdowns against Washington State.
Coming out of San Clemente High School, Wilson was rated the 11th-best overall quarterback by Rivals.com and 17th by Scout.com. He was 21-5 as the team’s starting QB, setting school career records for passing yards (4,320) and total offense (5,244). During his senior year in 2011, Wilson passed for 2,289 yards and 24 touchdowns and rushed for 467 yards and nine TDs. San Clemente made the CIF-SS Pac-5 Championship game and finished with a 12-2 record, as well as a No. 4 state and No. 17 national ranking.