Utah football hasn't really been known as a quarterback school. For all the Scott Mitchells and Alex Smiths of the world, there are a dozen Lance Rices, Darnell Arceneauxs and T.D. Croshaws - the latter who entirely failed to live up to his name.
Don't get me wrong, those quarterbacks saw some success - including bowl wins and rivalry victories. But when you get down to it, the Utes just aren't known for their potent quarterbacks. Even Brian Johnson, the current co-OC and guider of the most successful season in program history, flew under the radar for much his career. Smith, really, remains the lone quarterback of the last twenty or so years who made national waves - even making it to New York for the Heisman Trophy presentation in 2004.
Since his departure, though, Utah has struggled matching that type of quarterback success. Johnson is the lone exception, leading the Utes to an undefeated season in 2008. But since he's left, and missed a season with injury, Utah has lined up six quarterbacks to varying success - Brett Ratliff, who relieved Johnson during the '06 season, Tommy Grady, who backed up Ratliff and then Johnson, Terrance Cain, who started the first-half of the '09 season and only lost one game, Jordan Wynn, whose career is all too depressing to even get into, Jon Hays, and, of course, the current quarterback ... Travis Wilson.
Wilson, more than any quarterback I mentioned, seems poised to dominate and make a name for himself among the elites currently playing.
Maybe I'm overselling his ability - but when I watched him literally take the game over last week (albeit, in a losing effort), I saw a legitimate star. Only a handful of times in Utah football history (at least since I've been watching) has a quarterback done everything in his power to win his team the game - with Johnson being that last quarterback to do so, in 2008, against TCU. For all the doubts I maybe had about Wilson prior to the season, I've convinced myself he's astonishingly good ... scary good, in fact.
And hes only a sophomore.
Of course, much of that means little if the wins don't follow. Johnson might not have been the prettiest quarterback, and he certainly had some difficult wins while quarterbacking here, but he won and at the end of the day, that's all that really matters. For as good as Wilson is, he's yet to win a meaningful game (unless you count USU, which would be perfectly reasonable). He's come close - nearly leading the Utes to a win in his very first start against a solid UCLA team on the road - but he still hasn't been able to notch that head-turning win.
I am confident that will come, though. Wilson seems too good for it not to. Maybe it'll happen against UCLA or Stanford. But it'll come and it will be glorious.
But before he can take that next gigantic step, what faces him this go around is rivalry magic. You see, most those quarterbacks I mentioned have defeated BYU. Croshaw did it in 1999, Ratliff did it in 2005, Johnson in 2008, Wynn in 2010 & '11, and Hays in 2012.
This Saturday, hopefully we'll be able to add Wilson's name to that list.
Whether we do, though, won't change the fact Wilson is quickly establishing himself as a Utah legend.
Now he just needs the wins to cement it.