clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Looking back at the Travis Wilson Era

New, 17 comments
Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Travis Wilson became the only four-year starting quarterback in Utah football history. With Utah football about to enter spring football with the first new full-time starting quarterback since Wilson took over in 2012, we decided to look back at his career. His career saw its ups and downs. He took Utah to great heights that the program has rarely seen.

Wilson came to Utah as a four-star recruit out of San Clemente (San Clemente, Calif.). He saw reps as a wildcat quarterback early in his freshman season. When starting quarterback Jordan Wynn suffered what ended up being a career-ending shoulder injury, Wilson eventually became the starter (over Jon Hays), starting seven games. Wilson showed promise as a true freshman, including throwing for over 300 yards in a loss against Arizona. Utah failed to make a bowl in the 2012 season, but things looked promising for the future.

Wilson started off the 2013 season on fire. He threw for over 300 yards in a win over Utah State. He then posted a raw QBR of 99.7 against Weber State. In the Pac-12 opener against Oregon State, Wilson accounted for five touchdowns, but his three interceptions and the Utah defense's inability to stop the OSU passing game cost Utah their first loss of the season. In his fourth start of the season against BYU, he won National Player of the Week for his strong performance. Wilson struggled with interceptions in the next game against UCLA, throwing six of them in a close loss to the Bruins. Wilson did not let this get him down though, leading Utah to an upset win over No. 5 Stanford. Injuries began to mount for Wilson that slowed him the rest of the season. First it was a hand injury that plagued him for several weeks. He then suffered a concussion against Arizona State. During testing, doctors discovered damage to an intracranial artery that put Wilson's career in jeopardy, causing him to mis the rest of the 2013 season. Without a healthy Wilson, the offense sputtered, and Utah failed to make a bowl game (for the second-straight season) after a 4-2 start.

Doctors reevaluated Wilson before spring football in 2014 and cleared him for non-contact drills only. His football future was still uncertain, but Wilson made the most of his spring. He was eventually cleared for full contact before the 2014 season. Wilson's role as starter was far from guaranteed however with the arrival of Oklahoma graduate transfer quarterback Kendal Thompson. Wilson eventually won the starting job in fall camp, but offensive coordinator Dave Christensen always seemed to be looking for excuses to bench Wilson in favor of Thompson. Wilson tossed five touchdowns in just over a half against Fresno State in 2014. He suffered a horrible looking injury to his face against Michigan that he returned from and helped Utah get the win at the Big House. Wilson was pulled in favor of Thompson in a game at No. 8 UCLA that Utah won. Wilson also only played in the second half and overtime against Oregon State, due to Thompson starting in place of him. Wilson led Utah to their first victory over USC as members of the Pac-12 with a clutch fourth quarter touchdown drive. Wilson struggled against Arizona State, which led to Thompson getting the start against Oregon. Thompson suffered a season-ending knee injury in the game, and Wilson remained the starter for the rest of the year. He capped his junior season with a 45-10 win over Colorado State in the Las Vegas Bowl, winning the Las Vegas Bowl MVP. Wilson took strides to decrease his turnovers in 2014, only throwing five interceptions all year (after throwing 22 in his first two years as a starter).

Wilson had to again battle Thompson to be the starting quarterback, and he again won the job. Wilson led Utah to a win against Michigan to open the 2015 season. He suffered an injury against Utah State and had to miss the game at Fresno State. He returned to take on Oregon in Eugene. Wilson led Utah to a 62-20 defeat of the Ducks. He scored five total touchdowns in the game and ran for 100 yards (on only six carries). It marked Utah's first win over the Ducks since joining the Pac-12 and made a statement to the nation. College Gameday was in town for Utah's game against Cal, which the Utes won. Wilson also helped Utah defeat Arizona State. At 6-0, Utah was ranked No. 3 in the nation. Utah next had to face the USC Trojans. The lost the game largely because of Wilson's four interceptions (one of which was run back for a touchdown). Wilson bounced back with a strong performance against Oregon State. When running back Devontae Booker got hurt against Arizona, the Utah offense sputtered. Wilson struggled to close out his senior year, throwing for 110 yards or less in each of Utah's last three games. Utah, who was ranked at No. 3 earlier in the season, had to face BYU in the Las Vegas Bowl. It was not a great end to Wilson's Utah career.

Wilson's ups and downs were not completely on him. In his four year career at Utah, Wilson had two different quarterback coaches and four different offensive coordinators. Wilson was able to live up to his potential at times during his career, but the constant scheme changes did not help him develop. He also did not have a quarterback coach fix his unorthodox throwing motion. For much of his career, Wilson was saddled with wide receivers who struggled with drops.

Wilson may not go down as one of the greatest quarterbacks in Utah football history. His career was controversial, but one thing you cannot doubt about Wilson is his toughness (his nickname is not Bulldog for no reason). He gave his all for the Utah football team, and all Utah fans should be grateful to him for that.

Now, enjoy some Travis Wilson highlights