@image Walt Beazley/University of Arkansas
One-on-One with Tyler Wilson: Part One:
@Urban writer Whitney Ray talks with the
homegrown hero about his senior season
I recently had 15 minutes to ask Arkansas Razorback star quarterback Tyler
Wilson anything I wanted. We talked about
his senior season, new challenges facing the Hogs in light of recent scandals
and roster shake ups. We also talked
about his love for the game and how Greenwood
football helped shape the way he plays.
Oh yeah, and we asked him how he takes all those helmet rattling, should
pad shaking hits and keeps on playing.
Tell me how you fell in love with football and what does the Greenwood
Tradition mean to you?
Wilson: Growing up I was
a football, baseball, basketball player. I tried to play as many sports as
possible. I never fell in love with one game in particular. I just liked to play all of them. If there was one, it was probably baseball. It’s kind of funny how things turn out. I
fell into a great situation when Coach (Rick) Jones came in to be the head
football coach in Greenwood. He taught me a lot, how to love the game and
everything in it. That was a great
opportunity for me and I think it’s funny how it sometimes plays out.
Tell me about your three state championships and getting in there and being
able to take over in some big games. What did Coach Jones teach you and what
did you learn through your career in Greenwood
Wilson: For one, I think
leadership is always demonstrated through work ethic and that’s one thing Coach
Jones always taught. You got to lead by
example and be one of the hardest workers on the team and field, always do
things the right way. If you do things
the right way, people tend to see that and they trust you. They trust you to lead. They put their faith in you. So one was to work hard and two was to do the
right thing and three is to be a good teammate. I think you have to care about the guys in the
locker room. You have to build great relationships
with the guys you’re around and those three things in combination are what I’ve
learned at Greenwood and it means a lot to me and that’s a reason why I think
I’ve become successful and we’ve been successful.
Tell me about your senior year loss to Little Rock Christian. You really got hammered. How did you responded and how your teammates
looked to you in that situation to ultimately bring home another state
Greenwood football, it means a lot to the people in the city, which is great. I
get a lot of community support. With that, I think everyone in the community
wants to win and expected to win. Going into my senior season, we brought two
previous state championships with us. We had very good seasons. It’s a lot like
the situation I’m in today at Arkansas.
You got great expectations going into your senior season. You got to pull
through and make a lot of those things happen. You know, but I think we had a
great team. You mentioned the Little
Rock Christian loss. Obviously they were
a good football team. They did the
little things right that night and beat us.
You know you’ve got to come to play each and every week. I think we learned from that game, and that
was a time where seniors, juniors and the whole team came together and
responded. I think that was a pivotal moment and more of a positive for our
team. I’ve always tried to spin things
more positive than negative.
It sounds like you really had a renewed focus on practice after that loss and new
determination. How important are
practices then and now? How important is
preparation in terms of having to meet those high expectations?
Wilson: Preparation is
key. You can’t let your guard down if
you want to be successful. It becomes more
important at a higher level when you play because the guys playing against you
care just as much and their preparation and their will becomes higher and on
another level. You learn that every step
you climb up the ladder. After Little
Rock Christian, I learned you have to push yourself hard, you have to push your
teammates harder so you can be more successful and go out the right way. Ultimately you have to pay the price. We’ve got to stay focused in practice and do
those things right. It’s really the same
thing in college. You’ve got to stay hungry, stay dedicated and motivated in
the offseason. It’s the same situation
that I’m in right here.
What does toughness mean to you?
Wilson: Toughness is a
word that a lot of people use in my favor graciously. In the quarterback position toughness is
different than an offensive lineman or being a defensive lineman or any other
position on the football field. I think
there’s a different type of toughness. There’s mental toughness that you can
have as well as physical toughness. Mental toughness is being able to throw a pick
late in the game and have everybody blame you for it. You can be the hero or you can be the goat so
to speak. You have to handle that as a quarterback.
You also have to be able to take the hits. The quarterback doesn’t have to take the hits
every day in practice. You don’t get
beat up every day in practice. So to show your teammates how much it means to
you, you’ve got to take some licks and get right back up. I think players feed off that and say, ’Hey,
he’s tough. We can play for him.’ That’s
something I’ve always tried to implement in my game and work towards.
It’s pretty mind blowing some of those hits
you took last season. What do you think when you see defenders coming straight
at you? Is it just reaction? What’s
going through your head when you’re about to make a throw and you know you’ve opened
up your chest and you know you’re about to get laid out?
A lot of times you do see them. But you
also see a receiver down the field and you know if you can stand in there long
enough to deliver the ball and gain a lot of good yardage or a touchdown, the
hit doesn't hurt nearly as bad. That's
my thought a lot of times. If I can just
hold the ball enough to deliver a good throw down the field and give us a
chance to make a good play, I'll take the lick every single time.”