|Updated: 9/17/2012 5:28 pm
||Published: 9/17/2012 3:53 pm
FAYETTEVILE, Ark. (AP) - Tyler Wilson had a moment before the Alabama game when he wanted to do anything but heed his doctors' orders.
Concussion or not, the Arkansas quarterback wanted to play against the No. 1 Crimson Tide.
"Give me my helmet," Wilson thought. "I don't care what anybody else says, I'm playing."
Of course, Wilson didn't play in the 52-0 drubbing at the hands of No. 1 Alabama. Even the first-team All-Southeastern Conference quarterback didn't have enough pull to overrule what he said was an absolute "No" last week from his doctors.
The Razorbacks (1-2) put up little fight against the Crimson Tide without Wilson, losing their second straight game and putting an early end to their preseason hopes of a national championship run. They face another difficult test this week when they host Rutgers (3-0), a game Wilson said he is "extremely optimistic" he'll be able to play in.
Wilson acknowledged for the first time Monday that it was indeed a concussion that kept him out of the second half of a loss to Louisiana-Monroe and the Alabama game. Arkansas had previously referred only to a head injury, but Wilson said he suffered from headaches and other symptoms.
"I didn't feel like my 100-percent self," Wilson said.
The senior practiced sparingly last week and even took part in warmups before the game against the Crimson Tide. However, he knew going into the game that he hadn't been cleared by doctors and wouldn't play, viewing the throwing session as just another step in his recovery.
After bypassing the NFL draft following last season, Wilson knew to listen to the professionals about his health - with regard to both his short- and long-term futures.
"You have some of that," Wilson said. "But the deal is you've got to play football. That's why I came back. I'm not going to risk my complete health, but when I feel good enough to play and I feel good right now ... I feel a lot better, and I think it will continue to get better. I'm going to be out there on the field, period."
Rutgers coach Kyle Flood said he's preparing this week as though Wilson will play in the nonconference matchup, the first meeting between the two schools.
"And I think to do it any other way would be a mistake," Flood said. "He's one of the elite quarterbacks in the country. So, you don't get to be an elite quarterback just on physical talent alone. He's obviously a tremendous leader for their program and when he steps on the field, he probably makes everybody else in the huddle more confident just by his presence alone."
Wilson took part in Arkansas' practice Sunday night, running with his teammates while working to try and get back on the field this week against the Scarlet Knights. It was less than a day before that Wilson publicly questioned the effort of some of those teammates during an impromptu news conference following the Alabama loss, a game in which Wilson said he thought the Razorbacks "gave up."
Arkansas coach John L. Smith praised Wilson's statement and said the Razorbacks will prepare this week as though they'll have their starting quarterback against Rutgers. Smith said Arkansas will also continue to prepare redshirt freshman Brandon Allen and junior Brandon Mitchell at quarterback should Wilson be unable to play.
The two were a combined 11 of 25 passing for 79 yards against Alabama, a game in which Arkansas looked like anything but the team that finished last season ranked No. 5 and won the Cotton Bowl over Kansas State.
"It was good to see (Wilson) get up and talk," Smith said. "He's the spokesman of our football team. And I think he's saying nothing more than we all have to be accountable, we all have to go to the field and we all have to get our jobs done. That's something we talked about as a football team last night. We all have to be accountable. Let's go get it done. Playmakers make plays."
Wilson said his intention wasn't to speak to the team following the loss, but rather to fans across the state - fans the Greenwood, Ark., native relates well with.
"And I wanted everybody to know that that is not acceptable here, and going forward we are going to do the best we can," Wilson said. "I'm going to do the best I can to keep everybody together and display a much better product out there on the field. Period."
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