Smith more optimistic about Wilson's return

September, 12, 2012
9/12/12
1:15
PM ET
Even though Arkansas quarterback Tyler Wilson hasn't been cleared to practice, coach John L. Smith said on Wednesday that he felt better about Wilson's chances of playing against Alabama Saturday.

"I am more optimistic, but that decision has not been made yet and not in my hands," Smith said. "I’m keeping fingers crossed as well."

Wilson suffered a head injury when he was knocked out of Arkansas' 34-31 overtime loss to Louisiana-Monroe late in the second quarter. Smith is hoping doctors will clear him to practice either Wednesday or Thursday.

"He was out there yesterday, so maybe he'll able to get out and do some throwing and all of that and be able to go today a little bit," Smith said.

If Wilson can't go, Smith said either Brandon Allen or Brandon Mitchell will take his spot. Allen filled in for Wilson against Louisiana-Monroe, completing 6 of 20 passes for 85 yards with a touchdown and an interception. Mitchell arrived at Arkansas as a quarterback, but has spent the first two games lining up at wide receiver, where he has caught four catches for 122 yards.

Smith said that even if Mitchell does have more responsibility at quarterback this weekend, he'll still get some reps at wide receiver.

"You have to assume that Brandon’s going to be out there a ton," he said.

Smith also said that cornerback Tevin Mitchel is out for the Alabama game after undergoing gall bladder surgery that Smith said was "totally unrelated" to the hit that knocked him out of last Saturday's game.

The plan is to use seniors Kaelon Kelleybrew and Darius Winston to fill Mitchel's spot. If needed, Smith said he might even burn Jared Collins' redshirt if he absolutely has to.

"We’d still like to save a redshirt if you could, but you have to prepare that guy just to make sure you have enough bodies to get you out of a game, should something happen," Smith said.

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