Ladies and gentlemen, it is time to ask the one question that is on every Utah Ute fans’ mind.
Who is Travis Wilson, and what will he do with the Utah Utes starting quarterback job once, not if, he gets it?
Will he run to glory? Will he become the Utes’ greatest pocket passer since some freakishly tall guy with a rocket arm named Scott Mitchell showed up? (Google it, young bucks.)
Or, will Wilson be the next Jordan Wynn/flash in the pan/California kid who skipped half his senior year of high school to sneak in a few more snaps in spring ball, yet double clutched his bum shoulder in the end and called it a day a bit earlier than expected?
And when Wilson finally does take the field — which could be this week at UCLA — what kind of player will this 6-foot-6-inch, 230-pound phenom freak from San Clemente, California be?
The problem is, nobody knows — because he hasn’t played much at Utah. He’s thrown 10 passes and ran for a grand total of seven yards on 17 carries.
He’s no Taysom Hill pre-injury, and he certainly isn’t even Wynn — also hit with the injury bug in his career — so does this tiny but important piece of news you’re about to read possibly say that starting a freshman quarterback is, in a word, risky? Whatever the decision may be, it’s coming soon — and fast.
“Travis’s role will continue to escalate,” said Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham. “He’s going to have a much bigger role as the season progresses, that’s our intention.”
Obviously the Utes have been taking copious notes on what not to do with your star freshman quarterback prize — because they have cocooned Wilson much the way a newborn is placed in an incubator.
They only bring him out for special occasions — like say a Wildcat formation, in which he can showcase his freakish gifts, his arm, speed and size — and then he’s shuttled off to the sideline, swaddled in his helmet and padding and No. 7 jersey just as quickly.
Pretty soon, that padding will be taken off of Wilson — unless Hays has an epiphany and he plays like he did in the Sun Bowl — and even normally tight lipped Ute staffers who have coddled Wilson all these many months, have confirmed Wilson is closing the gap on Hays.
In high school, Wilson was the big man on campus, throwing for 36 touchdowns over his San Clemente HS career and a mind boggling 4,320 yards – with another 966 on the ground. In his senior year, he led his team to the CIF-SS state championship game and a No. 17 national ranking.
At Utah, he certainly is a player that fans are fawning over, as he’s already proven he can take it to the house on the ground — but with only 10 passes thrown, eight for completions, how much does anyone actually know about Wilson?
And, if not him, then who? Adam Schulz?
At the moment the Utes are in the middle of a two-game losing streak, which in football parlance, is a nice way of saying they kind of suck at the moment.
To say their play has been marginal is an understatement, and the sad part of it all is that they now travel to UCLA to take on a rejuvenated Bruins team that has every intention of putting a beat down on Utah on Saturday in the Rose Bowl.
And as crazy as this may sound, Wilson, a true freshman in every sense of the word, may be the only player capable of stopping the Utes from having a losing season.
He led Utah to a touchdown late against USC in a game the Utes lost 38-28 — when Hays couldn’t move the team.
And he completed four of six passes in that drive spanning the last five minutes, marching Utah down the field methodically, using that big arm of his to separate his throws from Hays’ sidearm delivery — and most important, finding his receivers.
At this point, Wilson, who again has just attempted 10 passes, needs just 500 more passing yards to eclipse Hays’ output for the entire season– though Hays has taken 90 more snaps. Wilson also has just two fewer rushing yards than Hays, on far fewer carries.
“I thought he [Wilson] did a nice job on Thursday. We probably should have put him in sooner. In hindsight, we should have given him an opportunity a series or two prior to that. We like Travis – we think he’s on track to be a good quarterback for us,” said Whittingham.
And in what may be the most telling stat of all, Wilson has played in more games than Hays. Perhaps that’s what Ute coaches meant when they said Wilson had closed the gap. It’s all but apparent to anyone — once they’ve looked at the numbers.
For more on Utah Utes football, stay tuned to quadrust.com