All my friends, and all the coaches, and all my family, have been super supportive. It’s definitely been probably the hardest week of my life. —Utah quarterback Travis Wilson
SALT LAKE CITY — Utah quarterback Travis Wilson is returning to San Clemente, Calif., Sunday to attend the funeral of his best friend, Nick Pasquale. The UCLA wide receiver was hit by a car while walking in their hometown last weekend.
“All my friends, and all the coaches, and all my family, have been super supportive. It’s definitely been probably the hardest week of my life,” Wilson said as the Utes prepare to face Oregon State at Rice-Eccles Stadium Saturday night. “But I think it’s just getting me more motivated to play this Saturday for him. I’m just ready to get this week underway and play on Saturday.”
As noted, Wilson really wants to play well for Pasquale.
Utah coach Kyle Whittingham credits the 19-year-old sophomore with handling the situation well.
“Of course, when you lose your best friend it’s going to impact you. But Travis is a tough guy and he understands that he’s got a job to do with his team as well,” Whittingham said. “But he’s certainly going through a tough time and we support him 100 percent. But he’s been very good about it and been able to put it aside when he gets on the practice field.”
Co-offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Brian Johnson is among those assisting Wilson through the grieving process.
“It’s been hard. I just try to be there and support him in any way that I can. I had a similar situation happen to me not too long ago — actually a couple of months back with one of my good high school buddies passing away — so I definitely, definitely understand what he’s feeling and what he’s going through and it’s my job as a coach to support him,” Johnson said.
IN LOVING MEMORY: All Poly Sports is administering the “Gaius Vaenuku Leadership Scholarship Fund” in honor of the incoming Utah freshman who was killed in an automobile accident over the summer. Alema Te’o, the founder of All Poly Sports, said the organization “will grant a scholarship to a young man who exhibits exemplary leadership and academic achievements. Our aim is to develop this scholarship to honor Gaius and have his memory bless honors in need.”
Wristbands to honor Gaius and help fund the scholarship can be purchased in front of the KSL radio booth at next week’s Utah-BYU game at LaVell Edwards Stadium.
EXTRA POINTS: Oregon State leads the all-time series, 10-6-1. ... The Utes are 57-31-4 in homecoming games. ... Whittingham and Oregon State coach Mike Riley are the longest tenured head coaches in the Pac-12. Riley is in his 13th season at the helm, while Whittingham is in the midst of his ninth.