Arkansas tabs Wilson as starting quarterback

Arkansas tabs Wilson as starting quarterback

Published Aug. 26, 2011 12:16 a.m. ET

Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino said Tyler Wilson will start at quarterback in the Razorbacks' opener against Missouri State.

The junior takes over the position following Ryan Mallett's departure to the NFL's New England Patriots. Wilson was thought to be the starter entering fall practice, but Petrino insisted that he earn the position while competing against sophomore Brandon Mitchell.

Wilson takes over a Razorbacks' team that finished 10-3 last season, earning its first BCS bowl game in the Sugar Bowl. Arkansas is ranked No. 15 in the preseason poll and was picked to finish third in the Southeastern Conference's West Division.

''I think it started when we came back from the bowl game,'' Petrino said. ''You could see Tyler say, `This is my time, and I'm going to do everything I possibly can do to win the job as the starting quarterback.'''


Petrino said Mitchell will see action against Missouri State but he hasn't decided when - possibly during the second quarter.

Wilson saw the bulk of his action last season at Auburn after Mallett was injured in the first half. He threw for 332 yards and 4 touchdowns in that game and finished the season 34 of 51 passing for 455 yards.

Wilson found out he had been named the starter from a member of Arkansas' sports information department moments before talking with the media on Thursday evening. Petrino had made the announcement moments earlier, confirming for Wilson that all of his work the past few seasons has been worth it.

''It's a pretty good feeling,'' Wilson said. ''I've been working toward it for a while. I'm obviously excited and confident moving forward.''

Wilson earned his teammates' support during the losing effort at Auburn last season. He also made several game-clinching throws late in a win over Mississippi a week later.

Last season's effort, combined with an offseason of organizing team workouts for the Razorbacks, was enough for Arkansas' players to vote Wilson one of the team's captains at the beginning of fall camp - even while the quarterback competition was ongoing.

''We feel like he deserves it,'' Petrino said. ''He's prepared hard. He's done a good job in practice and working hard at his leadership.''