Posted by Brett Kincaid on August 16, 2012
This is the 15th in our series of 30 Thoughts on Razorback Football in 30 Days.
No one questions the importance of Tyler Wilson to the success of the 2012 Arkansas Razorbacks. He’s a fifth-year senior, returning First Team All-SEC quarterback with a great chance to go in the first round of next April’s NFL draft. When thinking about who the Hogs could least afford to lose, Tyler Wilson immediately leaps to mind. Taking aside the obvious answer, which Razorback is most important to this year’s team? There are several candidates, but one sticks out to me more than the others.
The senior wide receiver from Texarkana has produced consistently in a secondary role since his freshman season on campus. With the Arkansas trio of Joe Adams, Jarrius Wright, and Greg Childs leading the way and grabbing the headlines, Hamilton quietly contributed play after play for the past three years. There were a few brilliant flashes – especially in Little Rock against Mississippi State in 2009 and LSU in 2010 – tempting Arkansas fans with the brilliance so many have expected after the highly touted recruit picked the Razorbacks over the Texas Longhorns and Florida Gators, among others.
Now is his time. With Adams, Wright, and Childs gone to the NFL and four other expected contributors gone from campus, Hamilton has easily emerged as the favorite target for Wilson to find this season. There are other receivers on campus that have the talent to emerge, but guys like Jevontee Herndon and Julian Horton failed to impress coaches enough to find regular playing time as underclassmen. Both juniors, neither Herndon nor Horton have established themselves as go-to threats in Arkansas’s pass happy offense. While both need to play a prominent role this season – along with JUCO transfer Demetrius Wilson and freshman Keon Hatcher – only Hamilton has proven on the field he has what it takes to be The Man at the wide receiver position.
Arkansas has depth at the offensive line, running back positions, and can adjust without a proven tight end (should, God forbid, Chris Gragg get injured). Defensively only the linebacker spot presents as many question marks as the wide receiver position. That said, defensive coaches have more flexibility with their schemes and coverages in order to compensate for personnel issues. The Arkansas offense requires precision from its wide outs, and right now only Cobi Hamilton has the goods. That makes him the player Arkansas can least afford to lose outside of Tyler Wilson.
It will be a good season if…
Cobi Hamilton stays healthy and lives up to his potential, earning first-team All-SEC honors and All-American consideration. In doing so the Hogs will likely find themselves playing in a top-tier bowl game and potentially the BCS.
It will be a bad season if…
Either through injury or poor play, Hamilton fails to step up as the leader Arkansas needs on offense. An abbreviated or otherwise poor season from Hamilton could lead to significant frustration as the losses mount this fall.