Travis Wilson ready to return to battle despite devastating fall

— Chris Ayers

On Monday, Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham said his team made it out of Michigan without a lot of bumps and bruises. His quarterback might not agree.

Two days after Ute quarterback Travis Wilson’s terrifying collision and fall that left him lying face-first on the Michigan Stadium turf, the marks were still clearly evident. Wilson’s face was full of scrapes, bruises and stitches — battle scars from the hit that left Utah fans holding their collective breath.

“I think that’s the worst hit I’ve had so far,” Wilson said. “Something I got be aware of and smarter about.”

Wilson missed the end of the first half of Saturday’s 26-10 victory after trying to hurdle a Wolverine defender, getting hit, then flipping before landing face-first and sliding on the turf.

“I saw a couple replays of it, and it didn’t look too pretty,” Wilson said. “Definitely not the smartest decision on my part, but at the same time I’ll do whatever it takes to push myself.”

Wilson’s helmet got taken out in the collision, and blood was immediately visible. The quarterback, who missed the end of last season with a concussion and a pre-existing injury to an intracranial artery, was shaken from the collision and took his time to get off the field.

Offensive lineman J.J. Dielman said it was really tough to watch his quarterback get hurt, adding that it was his job to protect him.

Two people in the Michigan Stadium stands on Saturday felt that same protective feeling towards Wilson, but they call him “son,” not “teammate.”

Wilson’s parents watched from the stands as their son got bent into the shape of a scorpion.

“Mom was definitely a little shaken up and scared,” Wilson said. “I hate to put them through that kind of worry and everything, but I’m just happy I’m okay and happy nothing serious happened.”

After receiving stitches, Wilson returned to the game to start the second half and immediately led Utah on a five-play, 67-yard touchdown drive that put the Utes up 20-10. Wilson later showed he was suffering no ill effects of the scary tumble by barreling through Michigan defenders for a first down run.

“During the game it didn’t really affect me at all,” Wilson said. “I had a whole bunch of adrenaline going, so at that point it wasn’t something I was worried about.”

Wilson has a reputation for going airborne ever since his first game as a Ute back in 2012. In the opening game of his freshman season, Wilson hurdled a hapless Northern Colorado defender for his first touchdown in a Utah jersey. It’s that special athletic ability that makes Wilson so dangerous, but he admits he has to pick his spots better.

“I definitely got to be smarter about situations like that, and I definitely learned from that one,” Wilson said.

Utah doesn’t comment on specific injuries unless they are season-ending, so no official report was given on Wilson’s condition, but Whittingham said he is planning on having his starting quarterback for Saturday’s game against Washington State.

“He’ll be playing this week,” Whittingham said. “He’s a tough kid. He’ll be the first one to tell you he needs to use better judgment in some cases, but he’s a tremendous competitor and exceptionally tough and very smart. He just didn’t use the best judgment on that one isolated play.”

Even bruised, scraped and bloodied, the Ute quarterback will return to battle with his teammates on Saturday.

r.miller@chronicle.utah.edu

@millerjryan

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