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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Tuitama back at practice

    Sophomore quarterback Willie Tuitama surveys the defense in Arizonas opening game win over BYU at Arizona Stadium. Tuitama, who hasnt played since suffering his second concussion against UCLA on Oct. 7 may be available for the Nov. 4 game at Washington State.
    Sophomore quarterback Willie Tuitama surveys the defense in Arizona’s opening game win over BYU at Arizona Stadium. Tuitama, who hasn’t played since suffering his second concussion against UCLA on Oct. 7 may be available for the Nov. 4 game at Washington State.

    Willie Tuitama is back – on the practice field that is.

    The sophomore quarterback returned to practice for the first time in more than two weeks after suffering his second concussion in a month at UCLA Oct. 7.

    “”I’m just excited,”” said Tuitama, who was also knocked out of practice for the week following his first concussion Sept. 9 at LSU. “”I haven’t really done anything for two weeks, I’ve just been lazy, but now I’m back out here running around.””

    “”I feel good except for the fact that my legs are kind of slow right now just cause I’ve been gone for so long,”” he added later. “”But (strength) coach (Corey Edmond) and I are doing a lot of work together just to get me back in shape, because now I can actually start doing things again.””

    Both Tuitama and UA head coach Mike Stoops said they anticipated the signal caller to be cleared for contact by the time the team’s next game rolls around, meaning he should be available to play Nov. 4 at Washington State.

    “”We want to see how he goes through the mental and physical nature of what he has to do day-in and day-out, the running, the conditioning, the thinking on the field, the plays, and see how he handles everything,”” Stoops said of Tuitama. “”We’ll just keep progressing from there.””

    But Stoops cautioned that the final evaluation on Tuitama’s availability wouldn’t come from him.

    “”We’re not going to put him out there until he’s ready … and that (decision) comes from the doctors. I don’t have any say in the matter,”” Stoops said. “”Whether he’s capable of playing the way we need him to play and (whether) we can protect him, that’s my responsibility.””

    Stoops added that Tuitama’s backup, Adam Austin, is still expected back early next week after spraining a ligament in his left knee against Stanford two weeks ago.

    Tuitama, meanwhile, talked for the first time about the hit he took from UCLA defensive lineman Bruce Davis.

    “”The second (concussion) hurt a lot more, definitely,”” he said. “”I remember when I was laying on the field it was just painful. (UA wideout Syndric Steptoe) told me that I was yelling like I broke my leg or something. I don’t know. It was just a whole lot different (than the first).””

    After traveling but not dressing for the team’s 20-7 road win over Stanford, Tuitama was allowed to participate in pregame warmups before the team’s loss to Oregon State last weekend.

    “”I just want to get back out there and play,”” Tuitama said. “”I was actually kind of ready to go against Oregon State, because I was running up and down the sidelines, but that’s as far as I could go.””

    The part he missed the most?

    “”Just not being out there,”” Tuitama said. “”Especially when our offense is struggling a little bit, I like to be there to talk to them in the huddle and everything, just to try to calm them down and make sure that everybody does their assignment.””

    As he returned to practice, Tuitama brought with him a new helmet made by Schutt, called the “”DNA,”” which is specifically designed to protect against concussions.

    And the quarterback was all smiles about his new helmet, with one qualm: “”I look like an alien in it,”” he said.

    “”After the first (concussion), we really didn’t talk about (switching helmets) that much, to tell you the truth,”” Tuitama said. “”(But) after this one, I already knew that no matter what, I was going to have to.””

    Now, new helmet and all, Tuitama’s also received the go-ahead from his parents to return to game action once he’s fully cleared.

    “”They just told me if I feel ready, if I’m 100 percent, to go for it,”” Tuitama said. “”My parents aren’t going to say anything to hold me back from playing because they know it’s the game I love, and if I wasn’t playing it, then I was going to be unhappy.””

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