The assumption from Crosett to Blytheville, from Bella Vista to Texarkana is that Tyler Wilson is the next quarterback at Arkansas. They even expect that in Bristol, Conn., home of ESPN.
We saw Wilson handle the team as the No. 1 throughout last spring drills when Ryan Mallett was sidelined. He did well.
There's been meaningful and significant game snaps -- three quarters at Auburn, one spread out over a couple of lightning delays against Ole Miss. He did throw a couple of interceptions in the fourth quarter at Auburn, but the rest has been impressive.
The 6-3, 215-pound junior-to-be from Greenwood completed 66.7 percent of his passes this season, a hair better than Mallett's 64.7. If you want to whittle it down to meaningful snaps, Wilson was 28 of 39 against Auburn and Ole Miss for 71.8 percent.
The passing ability is there. It's almost as good as Mallett's. Wilson can make all of the throws in the Bobby Petrino offense. There are a couple that Mallett can fit a tad better because of his off-the-charts arm. But make no mistake about this, Wilson can spin it with the best of them. He's plenty good in all areas.
The NFL experts like to talk about mobility and agility. When they rate a quarterback, they ask can they move off the spot? That's that imaginary dot in the pocket between the area where the offensive tackles set in pass protection. Can the quarterback slide and deliver the ball on the move, away from that dot?
Tyler Wilson can do that. I've seen it in scrimmages and games. He can flip it, throw it, lob it and he can spin it on the move. He may not be Tony Romo-like in that area, but he might get there.
The part that's been holding back Wilson is not the throwing game, it's the overall knowledge of the running game. And we see now that Petrino does want to run it and make it an important part of the package. Wilson can do that now, too. We saw that in the fourth quarter against Ole Miss when the Hogs pounded the Rebels with Wilson under center.
But everyone else can see all of that, too. Those performances are the reason the early national polls have the Hogs high. I'm not breaking a ton of news to anyone, including those folks in Bristol, Conn. The real scoop here is what everyone is going to eventually learn about Wilson, the way he carries himself off the field. His character is off-the-charts good. He's the complete package as far as maturity.
This is not to compare him to any other Arkansas quarterback, including Mallett. That's because I don't know many that I've seen over the past 35 years that are like Wilson in that respect. His total package is that good.
This is a man that Don and Suzy Wilson, his parents, can be proud of even when they aren't around. You'd be proud to have him court your daughter. He's a credit to them.
I figure Tyler is still a little scared of Don. His dad is big enough to still whip his son. Tyler might have a little fear of his dad in him. I wouldn't want to be Tyler if Petrino called for a little correction. But that's not going to happen. It won't be needed.
I remember quarterback coach Garrick McGee talking about Mallett after the three interceptions against Alabama. That week he said, "I'm not worried about Ryan because I know he cares and he wants to be the best."
McGee can and will say the same thing about the next Arkansas quarterback. Tyler Wilson cares. He wants to be best and he wants to be it at Arkansas. He's waited his turn.
Oh, it's going to be tough. Playing quarterback at Arkansas is never easy. The whole state praises you and critiques you in the same breath. Ask Mallett.
Tyler Wilson is ready. And Arkansas is ready for Tyler Wilson.
It's a great time to be quarterback for the Razorbacks. There's a little work to be done to rebuild the offensive line and to season some tight ends. But there's a capable hand to steer the ship. And everyone across Arkansas knows it.
State of the Hogs: Tyler Wilson
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