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Ute football: Freshman QB Travis Wilson making an impact

Kurt Kragthorpe

By Steve Luhm

The Salt Lake Tribune

First published Apr 21 2012 06:01PM
Updated Apr 22, 2012 12:42AM

Freshman quarterback Travis Wilson arrived at the University of Utah with the idea of making an immediate impact.

So far, so good.

Wilson capped an outstanding spring Saturday afternoon by completing 8 of 12 passes for 72 yards during the annual Red-White game at Rice-Eccles Stadium.

The Reds rallied behind the play of two other freshman quarterbacks, Chase Hansen and Adam Shulz, for a 22-21 victory.

As a sun-drenched crowd of 13,503 watched, however, Wilson showed the size, arm strength and poise that made him one of last year’s most sought-after prospects.

"He’s played well every single practice," said coach Kyle Whittingham. "All he does is come out and make plays. His ability to digest the offense and get complete command of the offense [is] impressive."

According to Wilson, learning Utah’s system and becoming accustomed to the "speed and tempo" of college football has been his biggest challenge.

"… But it’s getting easier because of all the reps I’ve gotten in spring practice," he said. "It’s been a great learning experience — a lot of fun."

Wilson doesn’t turn 19 until December but has already grasped his position better than many players with far more experience.

Said Whittingham: "The mental side of the game is huge for the quarterback — understanding the concepts and what all 11 [players] are doing every snap.

"The quarterback can’t just know his job. He has to know everyone’s job. He has to direct traffic. He has to be a field general. Travis has that."

Utah’s surgically repaired incumbent quarterback, Jordan Wynn, had a hot-and-cold spring game as the Red team starter.

He completed 8 of 11 passes for 124 yards and a touchdown, but he also threw two interceptions and lost a fumbled snap from center.

"I felt good," Wynn said. "I [threw] a lot of good passes. … I came out, had fun and competed. That’s what it’s about."

Wynn believes Utah’s offense, under new coordinator Brian Johnson, is vastly improved.

"It can be something special," Wynn said. "We have lot of weapons — a lot of playmakers. We just have to keep working through the summer and be ready for fall camp."

When the Utes reconvene, Wynn could face a battle for his job from Wilson and Hansen.

Last year’s emergency starter, Jon Hays, could also be in the picture after playing well in the spring game.

"Jordan is still our guy going into the fall," Johnson said. "But … we’re not afraid to put anybody in the game. This game is about production, and we pride ourselves in playing our best players."

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