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For a guy who didn't actually lose the starting quarterback job, Travis Wilson had been waiting a while for validation.
On Monday morning, he seemed relaxed only a few minutes after Kyle Whittingham said he would start against Michigan and said he had "been playing his best football" since the end of last season when he was named Las Vegas Bowl MVP. But as experience taught him last year, the work isn't over when the starter is named.
"I'm happy that we get to start and that I get to be the leader of this offense," he said. "I just want to make sure I show it in my play and make sure I'm prepared."
He's been through a bit of a gamut already this fall, as Whittingham sent a few mixed messages. At varying times, Wilson was "the No. 1 quarterback" but backup Kendal Thompson would "get every chance to compete." His top spot on the depth chart never seemed stable.
At least until this week, when Whittingham expressed confidence in his fourth-year quarterback as a surefire starter once again.
Wilson is 15-12 as a starter, and could be in line to set a few program records if he's able to play a full season without injury or without being swapped out.
He said the last year has warmed him to competition, even for his job. Although he was benched twice last year in favor of Thompson, the competition throughout spring and fall camp seems to have helped Wilson's confidence.
"I never doubted myself," he said. "Throughout fall camp I tried working as hard as I could to keep that spot, and to earn that spot. I thought I've done that. Now I'm just making sure I'm playing consistent and making sure I'm the guy the whole season."
Utes shrug off Harbaugh's celebrity
Confession time for Jared Norris: He's heard plenty of jokes and questions about Jim Harbaugh's khakis, and he has no idea why that's supposed to be funny.
"Everybody is saying the slacks thing," he said. "I have no idea what anybody's talking about. I really don't. I didn't know football became a fashion contest."
The way media attention is blustering around Michigan's head coach, it seems like Norris may be the only one who doesn't get the joke. From the Fox Sports 1 "Harbus" clad in his signature khakis to the coach's comment last week about the "big boy's table," to Harbaugh's other antics this summer, he's been generating a good deal of attention for a program trying to rebound after a few seasons below expectations.
But the Utes claim they are unswayed by the spotlight Harbaugh brings. Devontae Booker said he's not treating the man on the sideline any differently because he coached in the NFL last year.
"Honestly I feel like it's overhyped," he said. "I don't care if it was Michael Jackson or somebody. We're just gonna go out there, play hard, and not gonna worry about any celebrity stuff."
The depth chart is still missing Tim Patrick and Raelon Singleton. Tyrone Smith is slated to start at "Z" receiver, and Saiosi Wilson is backing up Kenneth Scott at "X" receiver. Whittingham didn't give specific updates on Patrick or Singleton, but did say he hoped Patrick would be available, and he thought Singleton has the ability to contribute this year.