Perhaps no Arkansas player is more excited to be out at spring practice right now than senior wide receiver Demetrius Wilson.
Wilson (6-3, 190, 4.4) missed all of last season due to a season-ending knee injury and put him through an exhaustive rehab process that was shared through videos released by the Razorback athletic department.
"It feels great to be back, just to be around my teammates and my coaches," Wilson said. "I missed them so much. It's been way too long.
"I feel about 95 percent and I'm just taking it a day at a time," Wilson said. "I'm not rushing anything, but I definitely feel back and ready to go."
Wilson, who had 9 catches for 117 yards as a junior in 2012 while appearing in all 12 games, suffered through both mental and physical anguish as Arkansas went 4-8 in 2013.
"It hurt mentally just to watch my team go through that season besides what I was going through physically," Wilson said. "There was nothing that I could do to help them.
"But the training staff did a great job to get me back mentally and physically so I could help this year," Wilson added. "I am back ready."
That has Arkansas wide receivers coach Michael Smith happy and he is anxious to see Wilson in Saturday's 11:45 a.m. scrimmage.
"He is doing everything and hasn't missed a rep," Smith said. "Now I just need to be a little smarter because I don't want to wear him down. The fact that we are practicing every other day gives him an opportunity to get off that knee."
Smith talked about his admiration for the way Wilson worked in rehabilitation.
"That is a tribute to the kid and to our training staff," Smith said. "(Arkansas head trainer) Matt (Summers) and his guys do a hell of a job with these kids. Demetrius busted his tale."
Wilson caught 51 passes for 921 yards and 10 touchdowns as a sophomore for Glendale, Ariz., CC before signing with Arkansas.
A Glendale native, he was an All-ACCAC first –team selection and chose Arkansas over Tennessee, Arizona and Arizona State.
"I see myself as a deep threat, but I also want to create everywhere- from little routes here and there," Wilson said. "I try to be an all-around wide receiver."
Wilson insists Arkansas won't be as ground oriented as it was in 2013.
"That's definitely going to change," Wilson said. "We want to be balanced. We want to keep the defense guessing.
"If it is going to be a run – we have three great running backs and even some more back-ups," Wilson said. "Our receiving staff, we are getting better each day and we are going to get back right."
Arkansas has two new wide receivers working this spring in junior college transfer Cody Hollister (6-4, 205) and freshman Jared Cornelius (6-2, 190), an early enrollee.
"Unless the Good Lord takes them away from me, they are both going to play in that first game (at Auburn on August 30) and play a lot," Smith said. "…I have been really impressed with how they are picking things up in this offense. Those two kids have really just come in and attacked it and have done a good job doing it."
While sophomore De'Arthur Cowan is not practicing as he concentrates solely on academics, Arkansas does have junior Keon Hatcher and Drew Morgan returning.
"Keon is having a good camp so far," Smith said. "Demetrius is playing really well. He put one on the ground today, but other than that he has been catching the ball and came back right after that and made a nice catch on a slant. I've been happy with the two guys coming back so far.
"And I tell you what, before the break – and he didn't get a lot of opportunities today – but Drew Morgan is practicing and playing a lot faster than he did last year."
Hatcher led Arkansas' wide receiver corp with 27 catches for 346 yards and two touchdowns last season, but also found himself in the doghouse on occasion.
"Hatcher has been more detailed," Smith said. "That was Keon's problem last year. We never had an issue with his effort, never had an effort with his knowledge. It is just the details. He is learning when he needs to tone it down and when he needs to go 100 miles an hour."
Wilson is taking a leadership role with the new wide receivers.
"I am just taking it one day at a time and trying to give them any tips that I can," Wilson said. "We go watch film together and we are just trying to work toward being one of the best units in the SEC."
Demetrius Wilson makes a catch against South Carolina in 2012.
Wilson's Return Bolsters Arkansas WRs
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