Nate Allen is a columnist for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. A graduate of the University of Missouri, Allen is a member of the Football Writers Association of America and voter for the Heisman Trophy. He has authored three books about the Razorbacks.
Senior QBs earn their appreciation
FAYETTEVILLE What Arkansas Razorbacks offensive coordinator Paul Petrino told the Northwest Arkansas Touchdown Club about Razorbacks quarterback Tyler Wilson should be said about every senior quarterback.
“If you are an Arkansas fan and you don’t love Tyler Wilson, you probably need to look at yourself in the mirror because there is something wrong,” Petrino said.
Of course, Petrino’s words apply all the more to an All-SEC quarterback like Wilson, a senior from Greenwood who means so much to his team, school and state, but they are deserved generic praise for any college athlete who weathers four to five years at the most irrationally perceived position in sports.
It seems no athletic post of any kind is more exalted, more damned, more important and more overrated than quarterback.
It is the position that can test character like no other, especially being told you are way too good way too soon and then learning the hard way that you aren’t. It is the position with the most transfers, the position most apt - usually for the worst - to have a player’s parent quoted nearly as often as the player. It’s the position where a great catch can rescue a poorly thrown pass for a touchdown in the quarterback’s stats, but a receiver’s miss glancing off the hands becomes the quarterback’s interception.
It is the only position that even when the starter stars, there is always some faction clamoring to play the backup, who then dismisses the back up as permanently doomed to ineptness if he doesn’t excel at his first opportunity.
Weather some or all of those scenarios for four or five years, and a quarterback passes more tests than a Rhodes Scholar.
Wilson was the initially heralded backup to Ryan Mallett who struggled before passing for 332 yards when Mallett was injured against Auburn in the 2010 seasons. He then blossomed into a record-setting All-SEC starter for an 11-2 team in 2011.This season, Wilson is on pace to throw for more yards and more touchdowns than ever, but he’s already thrown more interceptions than all of last season and plays for a 3-5 team that requires him to pass more often.
So with all that Wilson has done, which included helping keep the team together after the dismissal of Coach Bobby Petrino last April, Paul Petrino’s reminder is on point.
If you are an Arkansas fan and don’t love Tyler Wilson, something is wrong.
Down the road, Paul Petrino shouldn’t have to worry about Wilson always being appreciated in Arkansas.
Quinn Grovey and Joe Ferguson were great Hall of Honor quarterbacks who are still revered by Razorbacks fans even though they concluded their careers on mediocre teams.
Conversely, Arkansas quarterbacks Scott Bull and Mark Calcagni, among others, endured four ordinary years for an extraordinary fifth year.
Such appreciation should be shown for all - from scout teamers to stars - who have endured at the position that tests tenacity like no other.
Indeed, it’s not just Tyler Wilson. All senior quarterbacks are deserving of such love.
Sports, Pages 20 on 11/03/2012