LITTLE ROCK — There is a kinship with Inspector Clouseau’s bumbling character in the film, “A Shot in the Dark.”
Investigating a murder, he ignored Maria’s fingerprints on the bloody murder weapon and the rock-solid alibis of all other suspects and went looking for the killer.
In an interview with Tyler Wilson on Media Day in 2011, I overlooked a clue about his toughness. During a conversation about the Bequette family legacy at Arkansas, Jay mentioned how his son, Jake, and Wilson competed fiercely on the golf course.
Yes sir, Wilson said, his apartment complex was built around a course and they played a few holes in the evening, maybe the entire nine if there was time.
“I like to hit my long irons,” he said. “I love the 3-iron. It’s my club right now.”
Most amateurs don’t even carry a 3-iron, an almost straight-faced club that requires practice and diligent attention to timing. Buy a set of irons these days and the countdown starts at pitching wedge, 9-iron, etc., and ends at 4-iron. My favorite teaching pro recommends to most of his students that they purchase nothing less than a 5-iron and fill in with easier-to-hit hybrids, or maybe a 7-wood.
To embrace a 3-iron, a player must be tough-minded, an invaluable asset for a quarterback when some 300-pound future NFL player plows you under to the delight of blood-hungry fans in Tuscaloosa or Baton Rouge.
Recently, while in Gulf Shores, Ala., with kicker Zach Hocker, Wilson got in one round of golf and the weather kept him off the course a second time. In response to a question, he said the 3-wood has become his favorite because he can manipulate the ball to his liking. He was enamored with the 3-iron, he said, because he was accurate with it off the tee on short par-four holes and yet hit it far enough to reach some par-fives in two.
That, too, says something about Wilson, who turns 23 on Thursday. Take a 6-foot-3, 220-pound superb athlete to a golf driving range and give him a choice of clubs with which to pound balls. I’d bet nine out of 10 would grab a driver and swing from the heels.
The fact that Wilson is inclined to hit 3-wood off the tee because he understands that an accurate tee shot sets up the next shot and leads to a good score on a particular hole carries over to football. With Cobi Hamilton available, a quarterback with less restraint might be inclined to force a deep ball. Wilson understands a short pass to tight end Chris Gragg can get the attention of a cornerback and give Hamilton some separation on a play a series or two down the road.
Bequette, a third-round draft choice, is trying to find his niche with New England, so Wilson does not have a regular partner for golf. They do stay in touch, comparing scores. If that was the case in our group, the one that went first would be certain to lose.
At every opportunity, head coach John L. Smith has praised Wilson to high heaven, raving about leadership skills, physical ability and knowledge of the offense. Talking about Wilson on Media Day, he said a team with a quarterback who is special has a chance to win.
The platitudes out of the way, he apologetically offered, “ … he’s like a little rose, he’s a pretty little flower that’s starting to blossom.”
Like everything else, Wilson handled the description with aplomb.
“I can appreciate what he meant,” he said. “It’s a unique description, but I took it well.”
Tough-minded, diligent about detail, cognizant of the big picture and understanding to boot — all excellent qualities in the makeup of a successful quarterback.
Harry King is sports columnist for Stephens Media’s Arkansas News Bureau. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.