Tom Murphy is a reporter for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. A graduate of Louisiana Tech University, he is a member of the Football Writers Association of America, and voter for the Heisman Trophy and AP Top 25 football poll.
Senior Bowl sendoff
Wilson embraces reputation; Hamilton relishes competition
Senior Bowl South Squad wide receiver Cobi Hamilton of Arkansas catches a pass during Senior Bowl football practice at Ladd-Peebles Stadium in Mobile, Ala., Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2013. (AP Photo/Dave Martin)
FAYETTEVILLE Today’s Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala., featuring Arkansas quarterback Tyler Wilson and receiver Cobi Hamilton, will mark the end of an era for the Razorbacks’ football program.
Wilson and Hamilton will put on their Arkansas helmets for the final time in competition, representing the last vestiges of the “Petrino” pro-style offense’s impact on Arkansas football.
Hamilton and Wilson, both holders of multiple Razorback football records, will suit out for the South team for the 3 p.m. kickoff (NFL Network) at Ladd-Peebles Stadium in what is considered the best of the annual pre-draft all-star games.
WHAT: Senior Bowl
WHEN: 3 p.m.
WHERE: Ladd-Peebles Stadium, Mobile, Ala.
TV: NFL Network
Wilson has turned in a strong week of practice for the South team and will share quarterback duties with Oklahoma’s Landry Jones and Florida State’s EJ Manuel . The North team quarterbacks are North Carolina State’s Mike Glennon, Syracuse’s Ryan Nassib and Zac Dysert of Miami of Ohio.
Wilson has been the virtually unanimous choice as the top quarterback in Mobile.
Dave Richard of CBS Sports wrote: “Wilson has been the most consistent and has the smoothest mechanics, so if I had to pick one of the quarterbacks to start a game for my team, he would be the guy. … It feels like he’s a bit more of a play maker with experience in a pro offense and that’s enough to make him the best passer here.”
Senior Bowl President Phil Savage, the former Cleveland Browns general manager, said on the game’s web site that Wilson and the South quarterbacks have thrown the ball better than their North counterparts.
“Tyler Wilson seems to have adjusted his throwing motion, shortened it up some, and I think that has impressed people,” Savage said, pointing out that Wilson has not competed in a game since late November. “He’s not wasted any time trying to get ready for the draft and this particular game. ... He’s gone back and tried to make some improvements.”
Wilson pointed out the advantages of playing in a pro-style offense.
“It helped me from the standpoint of understanding base defense and what we’re trying to accomplish from an offensive perspective … understanding plays we’ve got to get out of and plays we have to get into and understanding the concepts of the game, going against five-man fronts and six-man fronts and where we’re weak and vulnerable,” Wilson told Google’s Roster Watch at the Senior Bowl. “With that, I think I can translate that and take it to the professional level and have some success at it.”
ESPN analyst Mel Kiper Jr. said Wilson has the “toughness of a linebacker” and projected him as a likely second-round pick before the Senior Bowl.
Wilson, of Greenwood, holds 28 Arkansas records, including 7,765 career passing yards, a 62.6 percent career completion rate and 510 passing yards in a game.
Hamilton set school records with 90 catches for 1,335 receiving yards this season and broke the SEC single-game record with 310 receiving yards against Rutgers. The Texarkana, Texas, native is Arkansas’ all-time leader with 175 catches and ranks third with 2,854 receiving yards behind Jarius Wright (2,934) and Anthony Lucas (2,879).
Hamilton said learning behind Wright, Joe Adams and Greg Childs came in handy.
“I kind of took little tools from them and I tried to put them into my game, and it really helped me out my senior season and I had a lot of success,” Hamilton told Google’s Roster Watch.
Hamilton said his competitiveness has been an asset in Mobile.
“I like to compete. I want to compete,” he told Roster Watch. “It helps me win a lot of those one-on-one battles in the course of a game.”
Sports, Pages 23 on 01/26/2013