As always, Tyler Wilson looked comfortable in his skin Wednesday as the fall's final speaker at the Northwest Arkansas Touchdown Club.
It was grown man skin, in part because of the way he was worked at Arkansas by Bobby Petrino. Wilson did his best "monotone" impersonation of the offer Petrino gave him the day he committed to play for the Razorbacks.
"I've never offered someone I haven't personally seen throw it, but we are going to offer you," Wilson recalls Petrino's message on his visit to the Hogs. "I said yes. I wanted to be a Razorback. I really didn't know about him as a person or a coach, just that he'd had success."
What he found out, Petrino was a tough taskmaster and could deliver a salty line. And, he would forever keep you guessing if the next man was about to take your job.
"I was really glad I had a guy coach me hard," Wilson said. "He tore off all of the baby skin.
"You aren't going to worry about what fans say about you because it had already been said by him."
Wilson remembers the way he was driven to perform, afraid that Brandon Mitchell might take his spot at any time. He got the same treatment as Ryan Mallett, who was told that Wilson might take his spot.
"I can remember the 2011 season, each game and how I was trying to just keep my job," Wilson said. "I wasn't sure if I screwed up Brandon might be in there. I'd come to the sideline and say something Coach Petrino didn't like and he'd say, 'Get Brandon Mitchell warmed up.'
"I thought I was going to get replaced in the Texas A&M game and I threw for over 500 yards. It was just the way it was. Ryan Mallett heard the same things. He was told that I was warming up."
Wilson is still hopeful that he's going to be warming up for someone soon. He's had NFL shots with Oakland, Tennessee and Cincinnati in the last two years, but has been back home in Greenwood with his parents the last six weeks. Perhaps there is one more chance in him, maybe this year or possibly in the spring. If not, he's gearing up for a possible college coaching job, probably in a graduate assistant role.
"There are some things out there," Wilson said. "I am going to chase it a little longer."
There was as funny story about watching a movie Tuesday night with his father in the downstairs den.
"I'm in the guest room at home," he said. "My stuff is in a storage locker and I'm ready if someone calls. I'm still throwing. But we were laughing, last night the movie was Failure to Launch.
"I'm sitting there thinking, did I really pick this one to watch. It's me! I do have a feel that I could play that part."
Wilson was terrific at the TD club. He said it was a "good feeling" to walk in the room and see familiar faces, fans and the media.
"I'm thankful for everything," he said. "I walk in this room and it feels good to be back home. I appreciate every one of you guys."
It's not lost on Wilson that he's in a country where it's fine to just sit around and talk football, and not be "in a place where they are shooting at you."
Wilson talked about the good times and the bad at Arkansas, the 11-2 Cotton Bowl team and the disaster that came after Petrino was fired.
"Sports is kind of funny like that," he said. "It has a way of telling you about things you already know, but emphasizing them. There are times when you think, can this get any better. Then it can be so humbling. And, that's the way life is a roller coaster. Sports is a great roller coaster."
In a question and answer segment with Bo Mattingly, Wilson was asked about some of the tough times. He recalled the tough moments with Petrino, that seemed to go on and on.
"I was living at the Links on Wedington and I'd go home after practice crying," Wilson said. "I wasn't sure I wanted to do this, but I was learning every day."
It wasn't so much fun to take a physical beating in games. The toughest came early in his junior year at Alabama.
"Without hesitation, I'd say (the toughest) was a day in Tuscaloosa when I didn't know if I was going to be able to get off the ground," Wilson said. "I threw a touchdown and it was when the game was out of reach. They took me out. If I hadn't been taken out, I might still be on the ground there.
"I hurt everywhere. The next morning I got out of bed and had to crawl to the sink. I didn't know if I wanted to play. My dad came by to check on me and he was crying. It was miserable to practice that week."
Then, there was the hit he took his senior year from South Carolina's Jadeveon Clowney.
"I was on a bootleg and here he came," Wilson said. "I threw it away and hit me on my hip. I woke up and it was like I had a water balloon on my hip. It slushed around. Three weeks later I still had it and it was finally drained, 200 cc of blood. That's a large amount but I felt tremendously better."
That's kind of the way Razorback Nation feels this week after a 17-game losing streak was drained away with a 17-0 victory over LSU. Wilson witnessed it, with joy for his former teammates, especially for quarterback Brandon Allen.
"I have talked to Brandon a few times," Wilson said. "To watch, it was like the monkey is finally off his back. It was like watching Phil Sims win the Super Bowl and Sims says afterwards, 'I'm going to Disney World.' I think that's how Brandon feels. He's been dealing with the fans and the media.
"To get a signature win over a ranked team, in your backyard, I was excited to see it and I think it can snowball like our A&M win."
Wilson liked the game plan to get Allen outside of the pocket against the fierce pass rush of LSU's speedy defensive ends. It was something Wilson always liked as a quarterback.
"When you get outside the pocket, it's easier to see," he said. "You get a little more comfortable. You can see your escape plan. You can throw it away easier on the move. I always thought you could throw better on the run."
Among the things Wilson was asked about Wednesday, what did he think the fall out was with teammates after his talk in front of the media after the loss to Alabama his senior year when he did not play because of a concussion.
"I don't think any," he said, "mainly because they had already heard me say the same things in front of the team just before that."
In hindsight, he wished he hadn't made the talk to the media and kept all of that behind closed doors.
"I was asked to do it by someone in media relations, not a coach," Wilson said. "But I think the people in our locker room took it different than the way the media took it."
Petrino's way was discussed in media interviews after the program.
"He was like a tough dad," Wilson said. "At times, it stinks. I think there are two forms of discipline and both involve pain. There is the pain of discipline and the pain of regret. He definitely used pain of discipline."
Wilson has heard from Petrino a couple of times since his playing days at Arkansas, both with invitations to use the facilities at his current school to work out.
"I know that's open to me and Garrick McGee is there, too," Wilson said of his old quarterback coach.
There was discussion of the differences between Petrino's system and the NFL.
"I had such a great opportunity at Arkansas, working behind a great player and was allowed to develop for three years in one system, with continuity," he said. "It's not like that everywhere and it's not like that in the NFL.
"The head coach at Arkansas was involved in every meeting and constantly had his thumb on everything. It might not be like that at the NFL. It might be a defensive coach.
"And, the system is different in the NFL. The backup gets limited reps and the starter gets all of the looks with your offense. The backup at Oakland was running the scout team and not one rep of the Oakland offense.
"In the NFL, they bring in someone each day to replace you. The system with the (Collective Bargaining Agreement) is such that not many rookies get to their second contract."
Wilson: Petrino Peeled Away Baby Skin
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