To say that Travis Wilson has too soon experienced the pendulum that is college football would be an understatement. As a true freshman just a year ago, he arrived in time to ride the media wave that predicted the Utah Utes football program to finish second in the Pac12 South behind then #1 ranked USC. The Utes were optimistic until they lost to in-state rival Utah State, a game where their veteran quarterback, Jordan Wynn, suffered his career-ending injury. The dreadful season considered a loss, Wilson would take over shortly thereafter as the starting quarterback in an effort to gain some experience. Ending the year with a 5-7 record and missing out on a bowl game for the first time in nearly a decade, it seemed the Utes under Whittingham had reached an all-time low.
Not four months later, Dennis Erickson showed up for spring football to add a spark to the offense and drag them out of their pit of despair. Wilson and Company responded favorably and showed considerable improvement in the red and white game. Ute nation was amped for a good season, all things were possible, and the first kickoff was nearing. Yet in the first month of the 2013 season Wilson experienced the death of a future team mate, the most efficient passing performance against an FBS School in his career versus Utah State, the death of a best friend, and being named Athlon Sports player of the week after beating rival BYU for the team’s fourth consecutive time. Indeed, the swinging bob of a grandfather clock had personified his young career.
But the roller coaster would not slow down after that. In fact, the undulation seemed only to be gaining momentum. On the one extreme, Travis Wilson then led his team to defeat #5 ranked Stanford, the biggest victory in Rice Eccles Stadium history. The crowd rushed the field and carried him off it on their shoulders. On the other extreme, the Utes dropped every other Pac12 conference game, Travis mangled his hand, and now this. His potentially career-ending head injury could mark their newest low, especially in the midst of losing Kenneth Scott, Westlee Tonga, and even Jake Murphy, if only for a time.
Now the Utes must stop the music. They must take a collective breath, stop the swaying, and rebalance. Their goals are still barely possible and Travis Wilson would want nothing more than for his team to carry on the fight. But they will have to be perfect, no more close calls or near misses. The time for mistakes has wound down along with Wilson’s season. But do not let his highs be in vain. Let his combative spirit thrive in the performance of his brother soldiers. Let his misfortune serve as motivation to win in his honor. Win for Family. Win for Travis.
Finish on three.