UA’s Tuitama gets clearance to play from concussion docsby John Moredich on Dec. 18, 2006, under Sports
Arizona quarterback Willie Tuitama has been medically cleared to play in 2007 and is looking forward to a new spread offense.
“I’m going to start doing everything I can to get the offense moving again,” Tuitama said from his family’s home in Stockton, Calif., over the weekend. “I feel good about the offense. It will give me a chance to throw the ball around a little bit and show people what we can do. The defense gets spread all over the place. You just have to hit the open guy. It makes the defense vulnerable.”
The sophomore went to the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center last week to undergo a battery of tests to determine the extent of his injuries. He missed much of the season because of a number of hits to the head.
UA team officials had said Tuitama suffered three concussions this season, but he was diagnosed by UPMC to have suffered just one major concussion. That one occurred against LSU on Sept. 9 after a hit on the first play of the game.
The specialists in Pittsburgh told Tuitama and UA coach Mike Stoops the quarterback is ready to go for next season, said Lui Tuitama, Willie’s father.
“I know everybody was relieved. I know I’m able to play again,” Willie Tuitama said. “I know (new offensive coordinator Sonny Dykes) was kind of worried, but now we are going to start moving forward and getting the offense going. We have to start over, but I’m sure we are going to be able to take everything in stride and learn what we have to do. Everybody’s excited.”
Tuitama said he will spend the next couple of weeks working out at his parents’ home before getting back to UA. He will then start throwing to receivers again in informal workouts in preparation for the spread offense.
He has not done any physical work since leaving the regular-season finale against Arizona State on Nov. 25 after being hit hard by two Sun Devils.
Before Tuitama was allowed to do anything, the Wildcats wanted to have him examined by the specialists in Pittsburgh, which has a facility acclaimed as the best concussion center in the country.
“The MRI they have in Pittsburgh is a lot more sophisticated. The resolution is 10 times better than what you usually get,” Lui Tuitama said.
“They determined he had just one concussion and that was the one against LSU.”
While there, Tuitama said he saw Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who has suffered a couple of concussions this year.
“I really felt good about everything when I went there,” Tuitama said. “I really was not too concerned. I passed with flying colors. Everything was cleared up. It was good to hear it from the doctors and coach Stoops.”
The Tuitamas said the blow he suffered against LSU orchestrated the rest of the problems he had this season, which led him to miss starts against Stephen F. Austin, Stanford and Oregon State.