In an offseason full of doom and gloom, Tyler Wilson remains to be the saving grace for Arkansas football.
It was 11:43 in Nicholls State University's media room, and Wilson was nowhere to be found. The media at the annual Manning Passing Academy in Thibodaux, La. was granted 30 minutes to talk to Peyton and Eli Manning, along with elite college football quarterbacks.
Those 30 minutes were nearing an end, and Wilson had yet to make his way to the media room because the rain had convoluted the camp's schedule.
After interviewing USC's Matt Barkley, Georgia's Aaron Murray and Alabama's AJ McCarron, Wilson was the last quarterback on my list to grab, and it was the interview I craved the most.
After all, Wilson was the one who lost his head coach Bobby Petrino a few months ago for hiring his mistress and lying about their relationship.
Time ran out, and I headed for the door. Disappointed and feeling as though I had failed the one goal I set out to accomplish, I made my way through the crowd when in walked Wilson. None of the players was obligated to come to the media portion, and with no time left, Wilson could have dodged the media easily with a legit reason for missing.
Looking confident and answering intelligently, Wilson fielded the questions surrounding his coach like a champ.
“In a lot of ways, I try to spin it as a positive. I think our team has taken ownership and said ‘Hey, we can still be very successful with the loss of a guy.' We’ve grown closer through all of it, and that’s what’s intriguing to me,” Wilson said.
The team taking ownership is one of the few positives to aspire out of the nightmarish events surrounding Petrino. Another positive that emerged was Wilson's relationship with offensive coordinator Paul Petrino, as Wilson said their relationship strengthened "without question."
“I think I’ve built a tremendous relationship with our offensive coordinator, Paul Petrino. I’ve had relationships with guys in the past, but this is beyond the relationships that I’ve had with those guys. He knows what I like called, and the starting call is important in offensive situations.”
Furthermore, Wilson had a swagger to him that painted the portrait of a true professional at the camp. But the interview session wasn't the only time Wilson exhibited this. At the camp's "Air It Out" session the following day, Wilson showed exactly why he was named First Team All-SEC in 2011.
With a calm and cool demeanor, Wilson spun a tight spiral effortlessly to high school and Nicholls State wide receivers.
It quickly became apparent how Wilson was able to throw for 3,638 yards, 24 touchdowns and six interceptions in 2011.
And because Wilson possesses both the tools and experience needed to lead his team to victory, the expectations surrounding the Razorbacks in 2012 are still high, despite losing their head coach.
“We always said that we like to embrace expectations,” Wilson said. “If you’re not expected to do well, how are you going to do well? I like to think of (expectations) as a positive.”
Jake Martin is a Featured Columnist of Bleacher Report and an intern for the Concordia Sentinel in Ferriday, La. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained first-hand or from official interview materials from the Concordia Sentinel.
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