McGEHEE – Former Arkansas Razorbacks quarterback Tyler Wilson said he would not be where he is today if it was not for the support he had from his parents and the Boys & Girls Clubs.
And that was his overall message Friday night, when he spoke to a crowd of about 150 people at the McGehee Men’s Club.
“It starts in a Boys & Girls club much like this one,” Wilson said. “Where you have a community that wants to push its kids towards success and give them every opportunity.
“And I think that was a big reason as to why I was successful.”
Growing up, Wilson and his family spent many summers vacationing near the Gulf Shores and Florida. McGehee became a familiar spot for Wilson because once they reached it, it meant, “We were almost through Arkansas.”
“It is good to be back in a place that I’m familiar with because I grew up in a small town,” Wilson said. “Greenwood is really similar to this and I appreciate that.”
The Oakland Raiders took him in the fourth round with 112th pick in the 2013 draft.
“When I was flying into Los Angeles for a rookie premier event and all I could see is city and pavement, I asked myself, ‘How did a guy from Greenwood get all the way out here,’” Wilson said. “And I think it comes down to one thing and that is support.”
In 2012, Wilson was 249 of 401 with 13 interceptions with 3,887 yards and 21 touchdowns. Arkansas finished 4-8 including an overtime loss to Louisiana-Monroe at War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock.
Before last season, Wilson was projected to be the No. 1 pick but after a dismal season and the loss of head coach Bobby Petrino, Wilson’s stock dropped dramatically.
But he said he likes the opportunity at Oakland because there is competition at the quarterback spot. Wilson will have to go up the likes of Terrelle Pryor and five-year veteran Matt Flynn.
“We’d all like to start,” Wilson said. “I think that is the competitor in me… In football at Arkansas, it was tough being a backup. I wanted to play and Ryan [Mallett] was a great player and when I got my opportunity I tried to make the most of it.
“Whenever I get my opportunity [at Oakland] I know I will make the most of it. Whether it is the starting position or if it is the number two slot.
“My job right now is to help us, the Oakland Raiders, is to do everything we can do in order to win.”
Veteran quarterback Carson Palmer was at the helm last year and he threw for 4,018 yards with 22 touchdowns and 14 interceptions in 15 games. Oakland finished with just four wins and Palmer is now with the Arizona Cardinals.
Flynn has only started two games in his short career and spent the first four years in Green Bay. Last year with Seattle, he played in three games for Seattle and was 5 for 9 with 68 yards.
Darren McFadden, also a former Razorback, has spent the last five years with the Oakland Raiders. While Wilson and McFadden have not spent a lot of time with each other, Wilson said he hopes he can continue to build that relationship.
“We’ve only had a few months together out there in Oakland,” Wilson said. “I think that will be a friendship and relationship that I will continue to build.
“Hopefully we can work together and win a lot of football games together while we are out there.”
In his five years with Oakland, McFadden has only reached 1,000 yards one time. In 2010, he played in 13 games and rushed for 1,157 yards on 223 carries with seven touchdowns.
Last season, McFadden played in 12 games and rushed for 707 yards on 216 carries with just two touchdowns.
According to Wilson, he is the first football player from Greenwood to have signed a letter of intent for a Division I school for a full scholarship.
“I think [Greenwood] was the perfect breeding ground for success and my development all along the way,” Wilson said. “It is a privilege to come from a place like this and you can succeed.”