2012 Manning Award Watch List: Arkansas' Tyler Wilson Leads Group of 5 SEC QBs

Barrett Sallee@BarrettSalleeSEC Football Lead WriterJuly 16, 2012

Arkansas QB Tyler Wilson
Arkansas QB Tyler WilsonWesley Hitt/Getty Images

With so much talent under center in 2012, the SEC may be more of an offensive conference than it has been in previous years.

With that in mind, the Sugar Bowl released a partial watch list for the Manning Award, which included five players from SEC schools.

Tennessee's Tyler Bray, Missouri's James Franklin, Alabama's AJ McCarron, Georgia's Aaron Murray and Arkansas' Tyler Wilson are the SEC's representatives on the 25-player list. The watch list is being released by the conference in conjunction with the timing of the preseason Media Days for each conference.

If you want a favorite, consider Arkansas's Tyler Wilson as the leader in the clubhouse.

Arkansas' season hinges on Wilson's ability to put the Bobby Petrino drama behind him and replicate the kind of season he had last year. Judging from his spring, he's more than capable.

Wilson completed 111-of-145 passes for 1,593 yards, 15 touchdowns and zero interceptions in four spring scrimmages this spring, in the midst of the Petrino drama. Those stats can be an indictment of Arkansas' defense as much as they are a compliment to Wilson, but those stats are difficult to achieve vs. any defense—including air.

Critics will point to the loss of three top wide receivers as a knock against Wilson, but that doesn't mean that Arkansas lacks weapons. Wide receiver Cobi Hamilton and tight end Chris Gragg each topped the 500-yard receiving mark last season. Marquel Wade was impressive this spring, and if he's allowed back on the team following his offseason arrest, that gives Wilson a trio of top-tier targets to look for.

Wilson received no help from his offensive line last season but still managed to throw for 3,638 yards, 24 touchdowns and six interceptions. The return of running back Knile Davis should take some pressure off of Wilson.

Wilson takes a lot of heat for being a system quarterback, but that system produces results, and it will again in 2012—even without Bobby Petrino.