Razorback Q&A: George Wilson
By Nathan Striegler
George Wilson is the kind of guy that every father hopes that his son will grow up to be. He is a polite, compassionate, intelligent young man with a strong faith in God. His humility and easy-going personality make him a joy to be around. His maturity and excellent work ethic have granted him success in all aspects of life, including the classroom where he is currently pursuing a degree in computer information and quantitative analysis. Oh by the way, he's also one of the best young receivers in the Southeastern Conference. His precision routes and reliable hands have made him a favorite target for Arkansas quarterbacks Zak Clark and Matt Jones, as he has piled up 31 receptions for 436 yards and 2 touchdowns through the first nine games. I tried to succeed were opposing d-backs have failed this season, by matching up with George one-on-one.
Nathan Striegler: George, congratulations on another big win this week. It was obvious that Central Florida was a very dangerous team for you guys to play, especially on the heels of the Ole Miss game. How difficult was it to prepare for them?
George Wilson: It was extremely hard. We were mentally, physically, and emotionally exhausted, probably as late as Thursday last week. The coaches tried to do their part by giving us two days off and keeping us off of our feet as much as possible. On Saturday we were playing on just pride and will power. We were very fortunate to come away with a win.
NS: What did Coach Nutt tell the team at Half time?
GW: He reemphasized the fact that they were very athletic and capable of putting a lot of points on the board. He was just saying we've got thirty minutes left, so let's go out there and stay together and do the best we can to get the "W."
NS: After reeling off five consecutive wins, how high is the confidence level of this team?
GW: It's really high now. But I think that last week brought us down from cloud nine and really taught us that even though we were on the winning streak, anybody can give us a ballgame. We're still very confident in every one of our teammates and as long as we keep believing in each other and the coaching staff, I think we can continue to win.
NS: This team is now 4-1 in games decided by seven points or less. How comfortable has the team become in performing under pressure?
GW: I think we kind of excel under pressure. It's like being at the free throw line in a basketball game where you've got to hit those two to win. We have guys all across the field on offense and defense that are capable of making the big catch, the long run, the big throw, or the big hit. In the Ole Miss game we had so many guys step up and make plays that you couldn't pick out just one guy. We have playmakers across the board and as long as we continue to make plays we'll continue to excel under pressure.
NS: How do you feel about the two different packages that Zak and Matt bring to the game?
GW: Its awfully difficult. You have to prepare for two different packages. A week's time is not enough. Our two-headed monster at quarterback puts the opposing defensive coordinator and defensive unit in a bind. I love both of them. The offense has excelled ever since coach Nutt implemented the option with Matt and opened up the passing game with Zak. Both of those guys are doing great jobs back there, and if it aint broke, don't try to fix it.
NS: How much has Zak improved over the past year?
GW: A lot. From the UNLV game alone he's come along way, being poised in the pocket, stepping up, making the big throw, being the leader on the field, calming the guys down, getting the guys together. He's an exceptional leader. He's a great quarterback. He's a great person off the field. You can't help but put all your faith and trust into a guy like that.
NS: Your downfield blocking has helped spring some big runs this year, especially on the option. How much pride do you take in your role as a blocker?
GW: I like blocking probably more than catching the ball at times. I get more of a natural high by making an RBI block, springing a back for a touchdown or a long run, rather than making a long catch. These are just some of the little things that wide outs have to do.
NS: Talk about some of your fellow receivers.
GW: Richard (Smith) has so much natural ability. Good speed. Good hands. He's a great player and I see a bright future for him. Gerald (Howard) is quick and is a finesse player. He's deceiving because you don't know if he's gonna run a route or set you up to try to cut you. Sparky (Hamilton) is big and fast. He has good hands and is a good route runner. Sam is really similar to Sparky. Actually they look identical on the field. In the few games that Matt (Jones) has played receiver he has made some really big catches with guys on his back. His speed is so deceiving and he's got really soft hands. If the ball is anywhere near Matt, he's gonna pull it down.
NS: You face the Arkansas d-backs every day. Just how good are these guys?
GW: They are probably one of best units in the country. The competition out there in practice is really elevated. They make plays we make plays, and at times you might hear some trash talking, but it's all in fun. We're teammates and we're not gonna do anything to hurt each other. Eddie Jackson and me are roommates. He's a DB and I'm a wide out but when we line up on the field we know that we're both out there fighting for a job. We congratulate each other and there are no hard feelings after practice, no matter what goes on out there. I think that's the kind of relationship the team has. We leave it out on the field. We don't bring it into the locker room, arguing about it or try to tease anybody. We're just a family and a family doesn't let anything get in between them.
NS: How has (Arkansas receivers coach) coach Pugh helped you develop?
GW: Coach Pugh has really taught me to listen a lot more. With a new coach coming in we kind of wanted to tell him what's supposed to be going on but he taught us to listen, to strive to be more consistent, and to go out and do a lot of the little things like blocking and just trying to be a total receiver.
NS: You have consistently made big plays on third down this year. Do you view yourself as a go-to-guy in those situations?
GW: Yah, I want the ball in those pressure-type situations. I think that if the game is on the line or we need a play, I want the ball, and likewise with Richard. I feel like if we want a play, come to me, and I know that Richard feels the same way. Sparky has made some big plays too and so has Gerald. So really you can't just limit it to Richard and me. There are other guys in the receiver corps that are capable of making the play.
NS: You also have a reputation as one of the most fundamentally sound, sure handed receivers in the conference. How have you reached this level of performance?
GW: Its just working at it in the off-season with Zak. I try to catch as many balls as I can even if we're just standing around having a conversation, we'll go ahead and just toss the ball around a little bit. After practice for about five or ten minutes we'll catch the ball from different angles and practice looking the ball in. You can't just step on the field and expect to catch the ball. That's why I try to get a little extra work, especially with hand-eye coordination.
NS: After a standout high school career in Paducah, KY you received no scholarship offers from Kentucky. How excited are you about playing them next year?
GW: Let's just say that date is circled on my calendar already. They have to come here. I'm not going to say what I'm going to do at that game, because I'm more concerned with what's going on right now. But I look forward to hopefully having a big game. It may not be catches or touchdowns but I want to have my presence felt and give them a taste of what they missed out on.
NS: You came to Arkansas as a walk-on and have since earned a scholarship and a staring role in the receiving corps. How proud are you of your accomplishments thus far?
GW: I have to give all praise and honor to God. Coming out of high school I just prayed for a place where I could grow and become a better man, meet a lot of new friends, and excel at football, and he brought me here to Arkansas. The family environment amongst the team and the coaching staff is indescribable. It's great, the way you can go to a teammate or your coaches when something is wrong or you have a problem. The environment around town is great too, with the way everyone speaks to everyone, and it's just a great place to be. This is one of the best decisions I've made.
NS: What has been your greatest Razorback moment?
GW: My greatest Razorback moment is the game against Ole Miss. All we went through that entire game and just not giving up in all the overtime periods. That's got to be my greatest moment since I've been here. It's so amazing. You really would have had to have been there, on the sidelines, or in the huddle to imagine what the mood and the mentality of our team was. It was truly amazing how everyone on that sideline believed in each other and knew that somehow we were gonna come out with that win.
The locker room scene was probably the most memorable when everyone had a piece of the turf and there were men in there hugging and jumping on each other. If you had a camera it would have been a picture-perfect ending to a movie, to see a group of men coming together, rejoicing, just laughing and having fun, singing the fight song together.
NS: You also lettered in track, baseball, and basketball in high school. Are there any other sports or hidden talents we should know about?
GW: I like to bowl. Me and a couple of my friends like to go to the bowling alley from time to time. I usually score around 150. Every now and then I might get a couple of strikes in a row and get over that, but its really just time for me and some of my friends to just get out, loosen up, and have some time together.
NS: So you won't be pursuing it as a career?
GW: No, not at all.
NS: How do you want people to remember you when your career is over?
GW: A guy that was outgoing, friendly, easy to talk to, a team player, always cacheable. A guy that was trustworthy and loyal to his friends.
NS: George it's been a pleasure watching you this year. Thanks for your time, and good luck on Saturday.
GW: I appreciate that, man.
End of Story