Tyler Wilson will be back for what he and his Arkansas teammates hope will be a championship run.
The Razorbacks’ quarterback decided Friday to come back for his senior season with Arkansas, bypassing the NFL draft in favor of chasing both Southeastern Conference and national titles.
Wilson earned first-team All-SEC honors this season, his first as the starting quarterback after replacing Ryan Mallett. He threw for 3,638 yards and 24 touchdowns, leading the No. 5 Razorbacks to a Cotton Bowl win over Kansas State.
The standout performance was enough for Wilson to consider leaving school early, though the Greenwood, Ark., native eventually decided another year of starting experience in college was his best path.
Arkansas led the SEC in scoring this past season, and will also get running back Knile Davis back next year after his recovery from a broken left ankle. The two will once again work under Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino as well as new offensive coordinator Paul Petrino, the head coach’s brother who replaced Garrick McGee last month.
”Although my goal is to play in the NFL, I believe I can benefit from another year of working with coach (Bobby) Petrino and coach Paul Petrino,” Wilson said in a statement. ”I am excited to be able to spend one more season at a university where the leadership shows a tremendous amount of support and the passion of the fans is the best in the country.”
Wilson threw for a school-record 510 yards in Arkansas’ win over Texas A&M, and he led the SEC with 279.8 yards passing per game.
Arkansas finished the season 11-2, tying the school record for wins, and its top-five finish was the school’s first since 1977. Its only two losses were to No. 1 Alabama and No. 2 LSU, and Wilson is hopeful the Razorbacks can overcome its fellow SEC West competitors next season.
”This past year was great for us with 11 wins and a top-five finish, and we want to build on that,” Wilson said. ”The group of players we have returning has high expectations and wants to work hard to compete for championships.”
Arkansas opened this season with championship expectations and won its first three games before falling 38-14 at Alabama. The Razorbacks rallied from an 18-point halftime deficit for a 42-38 win the next week against Texas A&M, a game which Wilson had deemed a ”must win” beforehand.
The junior did his part, completing 30 of 51 passes in Cowboys Stadium and earning his first signature win as Arkansas’ starting quarterback. The wins followed after that, seven in a row in all as the Razorbacks climbed as high as No. 3 before a regular-season loss at LSU.
They bounced back from the loss in the Cotton Bowl, where they defeated the Wildcats 29-16. Wilson threw for 216 yards and a pair of touchdowns in the win, setting the stage for what he hopes is at the minimum a return to a BCS bowl game next season.
The Razorbacks open the season Sept. 1 at home against Jacksonville State, then host Louisiana-Monroe before a visit from the national champion Crimson Tide on Sept. 15.