BEAVERTON, Ore. -- Travis Wilson is familiar with just about everything at the Elite 11, from the schedule to the coaching staff he worked with at the event several years ago when he was a rising senior in high school. He has thrown the branded Nike footballs at the competition too many times to count and has stood out through several days of competition (and not just for his long, flowing hair).
To say he's at ease in the setting would be accurate, but the Utah signal-caller is having a good time in the Pacific Northwest more so because it allows him the chance to throw the football at full strength and get in some much needed extra work after being limited the past few months due to an injury suffered last season.
"I love coming back out here. It's great to work with the younger QBs as well and it's nice to get some work in for ourselves, too," Wilson said Monday. "It's just great to be playing football again."
That's an understatement for the normally reserved Utes starter, to say the least, given what he's been through recently.
Wilson passed for more than 3,000 yards and 23 touchdowns during his two seasons as a starter at Utah and has shown plenty of potential. He has a strong arm, the ability to make plays with his legs and leadership traits -- he's a calming presence for the offense. He helped direct the team's massive upset of Stanford last year and had the Utes on the verge of getting to a bowl game before he injured his hand halfway through the season.
Though he came back for a game against Arizona State, he suffered a concussion and was held out the rest of the season as the team failed to make a bowl game for the second straight season. Late last winter, he was diagnosed with a possible career-ending medical condition to his intracranial artery, but despite the scary pronouncement at the time, Wilson remained confident he'd be able to return to the sport he loves -- he was cleared to resume playing football last month.
"It was amazing, I'm super blessed to be able to play again," he said. "I know the doctors worked super hard to find the results and the school did a great job getting the right statement out. I'm just happy to be back and ready to finish out my career at Utah strong."
Wilson was limited to mostly non-contact drills during spring practice but did as much as doctors would allow and became a mainstay in the quarterback room learning new coordinator Dave Christensen's offense.
He was admittedly a little rusty early on, but Wilson still put in enough work to be the presumptive starter for Utah despite possible challenges from Oklahoma transfer Kendal Thompson and redshirt freshman Conner Manning.
"As spring went along, though, I felt myself really separate from the other QBs," Wilson said. "Hopefully I'll keep on doing that in fall camp."
And seeing that familiar site should make everyone involved in the Utes program happy.