"He said that?" Wilson said. "Wow. That's the ultimate compliment. I hadn't heard that and I couldn't be more pleased."
The compliment came from Paul Haynes, the new Arkansas defensive coordinator. It had nothing to do with Wilson's 31 of 41 passing day in the Red team's impressive 65-0 victory.
It had to do with the way Wilson has conducted himself every since Haynes has been in town. It was a compilation of everything the quarterback has done, on and off the field. He said he's been watching all things and then pointing to Wilson for the way he wants his 13-year-old son to grow up.
"Tyler is the best of the best," Haynes said. "He's got it all. He's got the football. But it's the awesome way he leads in all areas. I've got a 13-year-old son and I tell him to be like Tyler. He's an awesome Christian example of what you want your son to be like and he's got all of my respect."
Haynes said Wilson's ability as a quarterback is impressive enough that he wants to pick his brain on what the defense does that makes it tough on the offense.
"I go to Tyler and ask him what we are doing that makes it tough on him," Haynes said. "Because it's tough on him and what we are doing is good, it's going to be tough on everyone else. Like I said, he's the best of the best."
Wilson said they've had those type of conversations several times this spring. So what is it that makes it hard on him?
"The way we play defense – and there are some of the same pressures that we've had – is when they make you take the check downs," Wilson said. "They make it tough on you. Every quarterback wants to take shots down the field. They give you a look that makes you think it's there and I had a couple of times today where I thought it was there and should have taken a check down.
"But this defense makes you go underneath. It makes you be patient. They are going to make it tough on quarterbacks. They are going to keep things underneath. They are going to keep you from going over the top. There weren't many times that the ones allowed us anything this spring. It's got to be check downs."
Back to the Haynes compliment, Wilson said it just reinforces that everyone is watching him at all times.
"I do know my role as (the Arkansas quarterback) is to lead by example. I know that young people are watching me. I want to be the right example for them. I want people like Coach Haynes to point to me and tell their sons that's the way you want to be. That's a huge compliment from him."
So now we know that Wilson has a great relationship with his defensive coordinator. How about the way he feels about his offensive coordinator and quarterback coach? What about Paul Petrino?
"It's been great," Wilson said. "It couldn't be any better. I enjoy playing for him. I wondered how it was going to be like. I have to tell you that when Coach (Garrick) McGee left and (Paul Petrino) was coming in, I wondered."
So he phoned someone who had been in the quarterback meeting room at Illinois. What was it like?
"What I was told was that it was an awesome atmosphere, very good," Wilson said. "I saw that when he got here for the bowl practices and it's just gotten better and better. I'm talking about before the coaching change two weeks ago. It couldn't be better.
"I did remember seeing the way he coached wide receivers. He was very hard on them. But it's not been like that. It couldn't be better. To be hones, it's 180 degrees from how I thought it might be. He has coached me the way I would want to be coached. He's helped me get better. It's been really good."
Wilson said he said as much when Jeff Long called him in for a one-on-one meeting on the coach search.
"I told Mr. Long that players should play coaches should coach and administrators should administrate," Wilson said. "I still believe that. But he asked me and I gave my opinion. I told him that we have a chance to have a very successful season if we keep the staff together."
Does Wilson worry that there is no resolution yet?
"A resolution is coming," Wilson said. "There will be one eventually. I will say that all we can do right now is maintain our attitude and effort. I preach that. It goes for in the classroom and in the weight room. That's what we were going to do anyway.
"I think everyone knows I'm going to be behind the decision the administrators make. I'll be behind it 100 percent. I just want to make sure to take care of everything I can in the classroom and make sure everyone else does, too."
Paul Petrino said that's the good news from the last few weeks.
"We've been checking class room attendance and it's been the best it's ever been," he said. "That's most important. We want to stay on top of that."
Wilson has stayed on top of everything. Taver Johnson has served as interim head coach since Bobby Petrino's firing, but most would agree that Wilson has been the face of the program. Haynes said as much Saturday.
"I'd say Tyler and Knile Davis," Haynes said. "Those two have been awesome. But we've got a lot of leadership."
Paul Petrino said, "Tyler has come out first and led all spring. He's first to the practice field every day with a bounce in his step and his chest up high. I think that has carried over to everybody."
So what did Paul Petrino think coming into a stadium with 45,250? What were the emotions?
"I think there were emotions at first, to see everyone," he said. "Then you just get into coaching a game. That takes everything out of it. You just have to coach and do the things to play a game.
"What I'll say after the game, I wish we just could keep going. We are in a zone right now. Tyler is in a zone. I wish we didn't have to stop.
"Tyler really has a lot of confidence right now. There are always things that you can clean up, like footwork. There are always things to work on. But he's playing very fast, really fast. He's got that swagger about him."
The offense looked good in all areas.
"Our offensive line is a lot better," Petrino said. "It's good competition there, too. No question we are better there than we were at the start of spring.
"Tyler makes it easier for all of us, players and coaches. We just have to make sure we keep getting better. That's what I told him. Just keep playing hard, keep the same attitude, keep getting better. You keep working at everything and you will keep getting better."
It may be tough to beat what he did this spring, all against the first defense until the Red-White game. He had one interception, none in scrimmages.
"There was one the other day, a tipped ball," Wilson said. "I remember that one. But I don't think there were any others."
Told he was at 77 percent for the spring in scrimmages, Wilson laughed.
"So I'll try to get to 80 percent," he said. "I wanted to be 15 of 15 as far as at my best in practices this spring and I think I was. And so now I want to get to 80 percent. That's the goal now. If I keep playing at my best, I think this team can be successful.
"We are together right now. That's every player and every coach in our room. We want to just stay together and continue to roll it down the hill."
Wilson thinks everyone will continue to improve.
"I see guys like Cobi Hamilton getting better and better," Wilson said. "Chris Gragg is really good. Cobi had a great spring. I watched tape of him from a year ago and he's so much different. He goes out there thinking he can beat his man one-on-one. He's got a different attitude, like he's going to make the play."
And Wilson said no one even saw another great weapon, running back Knile Davis. Actually, Davis was on the field for one play. He went in motion, away from the play.
"Knile could have played," Wilson said. "He's ready right now."
Petrino said it's fun to see all of the "studs" across the offense.
"We have three really good running backs," Petrino said. "I tell them all three of them – Knile Davis, Ronnie Wingo and Dennis Johnson – are going to be in NFL camps this time next year. It'll be about competition then, making a team. I told them it might as well start right now. So that's the challenge I gave them, to compete against each other on every play and every time they step in the meeting room."
Yes, there are plenty of studs in the Arkansas meeting room. None are more stud-like than Tyler Wilson. His job is both to feed the studs and lead them.
"I know my role and what I have to do for the team," he said. "Sometimes I'd like to just be one of the guys. Right now, I need to lead. But I might take an afternoon off (Sunday). I might try to relax a little, maybe play some golf."
But he knows he'll be watched. One of those watching might be the son of Paul Haynes.