The Arkansas Razorbacks are getting their leader – and best player – back on the field.
Tyler Wilson suffered a concussion in the first half of the Louisiana-Monroe game on Sept. 8.
Senior All-SEC quarterback Tyler Wilson, who’s missed the past six quarters of game action with a concussion, is expected to play Saturday night when Arkansas (1-2) takes on Rutgers (3-0) at Razorback Stadium.
Coach John L. Smith announced Thursday that Wilson received medical clearance earlier in the day. Wilson did not play in last week’s 52-0 loss to top-ranked Alabama or in the second half of the 34-31, overtime loss to Louisiana-Monroe on Sept. 8.
Smith said Wilson is “ready to roll” after going through each practice this week. Wilson practiced only once last week and although he dressed out for the Alabama game, he was simply a decoy.
The Razorbacks were optimistic that Wilson would return for the Rutgers game, and he took the majority of first-team repetitions at quarterback this week. He was tested after each practice to make sure he was OK.
“I think they’re fired up about that and they realize that the whole week of practice, it’s not for naught,” Smith said of his players. “He’s going to really be out there. So I think they’re definitely fired up about having him out there. Again, that energy, that positiveness, that vocal person that we need. … His energy and that positiveness, it just kind of breeds and it keeps going and it spirals. That’s what we need.”
Wilson did everything the Hogs wanted him to do this week in practice, according to Smith. And the coach said there was no hesitation to decide to play him once they received the good news from trainer Matt Summers on Thursday.
Is Smith concerned that Wilson might take some hard shots when Rutgers blitzes?
“We’re certainly not planning on him getting any direct-line hits. We have to be able to pick it up,” Smith said. “And the other thing is he’s going to have to be able to make sure he makes the checks, but that’s part of our system is he’ll get it checked, he’ll get himself protected. Everybody has to be accountable and make sure that we keep the people off of him. But that’s a concern any week.”
Senior starting middle linebacker Tenarius Wright will move back to defensive end against Rutgers, and Coach John L. Smith talked as if he might play there most of the game.
The plan is for senior “Will” linebacker Alonzo Highsmith to slide into the “Mike” position in Wright’s place. True freshman A.J. Turner and senior Terrell Williams will get reps on the weakside, and “between the two of those guys they have to carry the load at that spot,” Smith said.
Wright, who has 25 tackles this year, was moved from defensive end to linebacker for this season, and the move hasn’t worked out like the Hogs hoped it would. But Wright has also been dealing with a neck stinger, and Smith said that was part of the reason he was being moved back to the line.
“We had planned when we put him back there that that would be the scenario,” Smith said of Wright also getting work at defensive end. “It’s how much we can get to and when we could get to it. We spent most of our time and his time in learning the linebacker spot where he was comfortable with that.
“He’s gotten some stingers and some things like that, what you have (is) a tendency to take more of a hitting back there cause you’re off the ball. So putting him back up on the line of scrimmage is actually, I think … putting him back where he’s used to playing, where he’s going to make a ton of plays, where he’s going to help us with his pass rush. It may lessen his chance of getting another stinger and that type of thing and maybe keep him maybe more healthy. So I think all of those things went into it.”