Travis Wilson’s citation for underage drinking will have no effect on the University of Utah’s quarterbacking competition this month.
That’s both a prediction and a recommendation — and a commentary on the frequency of off-field issues involving college football players locally and nationally in the offseason.
But where Wilson’s case will get interesting is in the voting for Ute co-captains in mid-August.
While there’s no dismissing any violation of the law, Wilson’s offense does not rise to the level of actions that should result in any kind of suspension or even missed practice time as the Utes open their preseason camp next week. Just as an example, the separate charges that Utah State receivers Ronald Butler and Jojo Natson face in Logan are more significant. And BYU running back Jamaal Williams received in-house discipline and participated in spring practice after being charged with underage drinking in February.
So Utah’s likely QB duel between Wilson and Oklahoma transfer Kendal Thompson should play out as scheduled in August — and beyond.
Wilson’s off-field issues, however, will become a test case for how his teammates respond to him as a leader. He’s popular among the Utes, having been elected as a co-captain last August, an unusual honor for a sophomore.
Wilson will have have to account for his mistake, one way or another, to prove himself as deserving of that vote in 2014. He’s less than five months shy of his 21st birthday and his offense occurred at a natural time for relaxing and celebrating as he attended a concert in West Valley City at the end of Utah’s summer conditioning program. But let’s just say someone who’s nearly 21 should be mature enough to make a better decision than drinking in public.
Wilson created a distraction that the Utes don’t need, as they prepare for an important season in the program’s development in the Pac-12. He’ll have to overcome it in multiple ways, re-establishing the trust of his teammates. Logically, some of them will disregard his indiscretion, and some will wonder about his leadership qualities.
Fans probably are divided as well. But none of them will have a vote for co-captains.
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