Billy Ray Stutzmann, who led the University of Hawaii football team in receptions and yards receiving in 2012, finally played in a game this season last Saturday as the Rainbow Warriors fell 42-37 to Fresno State. Stutzmann caught three passes for 46 yards and a touchdown.
Stutzmann reported to fall camp late because of head injuries in a one-car accident a couple of days before the start of camp. Stutzmann was driving back to his apartment less than 10 minutes from his parents’ house where he’d just had dinner and blacked out.
Earlier this week I asked him a few questions after practice in preparation for this week’s game against San Jose State.
DR: It must be good to be back and playing. Can you talk a little about that feeling?
BRS: Since the accident I just had to clear my head. I just tried to get better and get back with the team, get healthy. Thankfully Coach Chow gave me another chance. I’m glad I could help the team. It’s good to get back out there.
DR: It seemed it took a long time for you to get back into action. Was it the nature of the injuries?
BRS: With a head injury there are always going to be extra precautions. I didn’t want to come back too soon and get hit there again. Of course there was precautions. I didn’t want to come back and get hit there again. The doctor and trainers watched over me and kept an eye on the symptoms. They cleared me and gave me another chance to come back.
DR: Since you’re a senior do you feel that there is more leadership expected from you? Or since you were recruited by the previous staff does that make it different?
BRS: I think it’s more I like to lead by example. I’m not much of a talker. I try to do all my assignments and go hard every play and show the guys I’m here to help the team.
DR: Was there any kind of communication lapse between you and the coaches?
BRS: I don’t think there was too much of a lapse. At the beginning it was hard because camp started and the coaches were focused and I was a little distant at the beginning. I think everything’s cleared up now.
DR: Did you have any thoughts about calling it a career after the accident and how things were going when you came back?
BRS: It crossed my mind the first week or so. After that I just, I couldn’t be away from football. Especially going into my senior year I couldn’t go out like that. I just kept doing what I can to get back.
DR: Was the family legacy of your brother, Craig, having played here part of what motivated you to keep going?
BRS: Of course. And I do like to finish what I start. Signing with the University of Hawaii five years ago, I want to stick it out. Didn’t matter about the coaching staff change or anything. I want to give everything I can for the state of Hawaii.”
DR: Do you know why you blacked out while you were driving?
BRS: I’m not quite sure what happened. It could’ve been stress or some kind of anxiety. I blacked out before but this was first time driving.
DR: Did you have any alcohol?
BRS: No drinking or drugs or anything like that. I’m thankful I’m healthy now.
DR: Can you explain more about your blackouts? How often does it happen?
BRS: Usually when I’m under a lot of stress it can trigger the blackout. The first time it happened a few years ago I had tests done. Doctors don’t think it’s related to football. It can happen anytime. It’s unfortunate.