California native Travis Wilson has returned to the field for the University of Utah after a head injury not only ended the sophomore quarterback's season three games early last fall — it threatened to end his football career altogether. Just the fourth true freshman to start for Utah, the 20-year-old was undergoing medical tests for concussion symptoms when doctors discovered an old injury to an intracranial artery. He was cleared for non-contact practices and workouts just before spring camp began last week.
While he played in all 12 games as a freshman, he only started seven and finished with a 3-4 record. As a sophomore, he played in nine games before the head injury sidelined him. He completed 133 of 237 passes (56 percent) for 1,827 yards and 17 touchdowns, averaging 203 yards per game. He also rushed for 386 yards and five touchdowns.
His return was among the most anticipated storylines of Utah's spring practices, and he talked with the Deseret News after his first practice last week.
What was it like watching the games from the sideline last fall?
It’s not a good feeling, definitely felt sick to my stomach. But I’m glad now I get to come back. I know I have a lot to prove to this team and for this upcoming season. I’ve just got to work hard and get better.
What do you think of all the coaching changes?
There’s definitely been a lot of coaching changes, but I’m really happy with all the coaches who came in. Having coach (Aaron) Roderick as my coach has been awesome. I’m really excited to kind of see how this goes, see how the season goes.
Were you scared your football career was over?
I was definitely scared. The doctors kind of had me nervous for a little bit and just waiting was really nerve-wracking. I’m just glad everything worked out, and I’m happy to be back.
Did you give some consideration to what your life would be like without football? And what got you through the tough days?
I definitely had to play in both scenarios. I definitely thought about if I can’t play football anymore, I have to figure something out and do something else. I have to kind of figure out my life. I’m just really happy it turned out the way it did. I’m glad I get to finish out my career at Utah.
My family was really supportive. They were always there for me. I definitely feel like they played a big part in me staying strong and thinking positively. They just told me that everything happens for a reason and that something good will come out of it.
Was it emotional to return to the field (last Tuesday)?
Yeah, definitely. During the whole three months, it was just super stressful ... not knowing what I was going to be able to do. Now the decision has finally been made, and I’ve been cleared to come back and play. It’s been a great weight lifted off my shoulders.
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