Bob Holt is a reporter for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. A graduate of the University of Missouri, he is a member of the Football Writers Association of America, and voter for the Heisman Trophy, Biletnikoff Award and AP Top 25 basketball poll. Holt was awarded Arkansas Sportswriter of the Year in 2000 and 2015.
Hamilton, Wilson wrap up UA record runs
Tyler Wilson completed 31 of 52 passes for 359 yards and 1 touchdown and threw 1 interception in his final game as a Razorback.
FAYETTEVILLE As Arkansas senior receiver Cobi Hamilton lay on the Reynolds Razorback Stadium turf midway through the fourth quarter of Friday’s game after taking a hard hit by LSU safety Micah Eugene, fans began chanting.
“Cobi! Cobi! Cobi!”
The chants grew louder as Hamilton, who had injured his left ankle, was helped off the field.
Fans were acknowledging Hamilton’s record-setting season and career, which ended in the Razorbacks’ 20-13 loss to the BCS No. 7 Tigers.
“I heard ‘Cobi,’ but I’m thinking it’s people calling me from the sideline,” Hamilton said. “If [the fans] did, that’s good. That’s pretty special. It means a lot. It means the support we have throughout this season, the support they have for me and the faith they have for me and this team, it just shows so much.
“They’re standing in this weather and calling the Hogs. It’s just a great feeling.”
Hamilton is expected to be a high pick in this spring’s NFL Draft, but rather than stay safely on the sideline he came back into the game, hoping to help the Razorbacks rally.
He caught one more pass from senior quarterback Tyler Wilson to start Arkansas’ final drive with an 8-yard gain.
Wilson wasn’t surprised to see Hamilton come back, even with the Razorbacks finishing up a 4-8 season.
“This place is pretty special,” Wilson said. “I think Cobi said, ‘I’m not letting that hit be the last one.’ He said he wanted to go out on his terms, and that’s kind of how I view it. I respect him for it.”
Hamilton said he never considered sitting out the last few minutes of the game if he was medically cleared to return.
“There was like a minute left in my senior year, so why not go for it?” he said. “Even if I’m hurting pretty bad, I got a minute or two. I’ve got a lot of time to rest, so that was all I could think about - just go out there and finish the game, finish as a Razorback.”
Hamilton said he was glad to play his last snap on the field with Wilson and his other teammates, even though Arkansas’ comeback ended when Wilson threw an incompletion into the end zone.
“I had so many memorable moments in this stadium as a Razorback with these guys, so I can’t say I left on a bad note,” Hamilton said. “I left here as a Razorback, and I’m so proud of that. I couldn’t ask for anything more.”
Hamilton had 10 catches for 98 yards and set an Arkansas career record with 175 catches, breaking Jarius Wright’s mark of 168. He also set Arkansas season records with 90 catches and 1,335 yards.
Wilson completed 31 of 52 passes for 259 yards and 1 touchdown and threw 1 interception. He is now Arkansas’ career leader with 7,765 passing yards, breaking the mark of 7,493 held by Ryan Mallett.
“They’re two guys that you couldn’t be more proud of,” Arkansas offensive coordinator Paul Petrino said of Hamilton and Wilson. “Two guys that all the Arkansas fans should always love, appreciate, defend, and just thank them because those guys are Razorbacks to the end.”
Wilson said he had no regrets about returning to Arkansas as a fifth-year senior rather than declaring for the NFL Draft last spring.
“I think I’m a better player this year,” Wilson said. “I think I’m more mature. Not only as a player in front of you guys [in the media], but in front of the team, being able to handle everything that’s thrown at you and especially at that level, because there’s a lot.
“So I’m a more prepared person than I was a year ago. ... I wasn’t ready last year. I had to learn some things, and I’m ready now.”
Wilson said it’s been “a fun ride” playing for the Razorbacks.
“Everything you go through, it’s been a life lesson for me, not only the records, but all that other stuff that comes along with it,” he said. “It’s been a wonderful time, and I’m glad I could share it with Arkansas.
“As rough in some aspects as this year’s been - and let’s not sugarcoat it, it’s been tough; it’s been a grind to come to work and prepare every single day - you learn so much during it.
“I wouldn’t trade it for anything.”
Sports, Pages 28 on 11/24/2012