We're headed out west today to make a stop at Mike Leach's new stomping grounds, Washington State. Not a lot has gone well for the Cougars in the last few seasons, but there has been one true bright spot in the last two years, Marquess Wilson. Never heard of him? You should know this kid's name for 2012.
No. 146: Marquess Wilson, #86, Wide Receiver, Washington State
It is not often that a freshman comes in on a horrible team and puts on a show worthy of tremendous praise. But that's exactly what Wilson did in 2010 for the Cougars. He was a revelation to the tune of 18.3 yards a reception and 12 touchdowns. He followed the freshman campaign up with a sophomore season that saw his production increase, even as teams knew he was the focal point of the offense.
Wilson is a tall guy, not a big kid, but at a true 6'3", he has a body that allows him to be open, even when he is not technically open. He can get up off the ground and has great hands. For those of you who haven't seen the kid play, you're missing out on one of the hidden gems of college football. To go with his height, hands and leaping ability, Wilson has a knack for getting open. He sits down in defenses well for a receiver that has only had one spring of football. He also knows how to get open on the edge to become a target for his quarterback.
It is tough to peg a weakness on a guy that shows up every week and grabs almost seven balls for over 100 yards. If there is a part of his game that needs to improve it is probably just an improved ability to use his body, and this can be accomplished by just getting stronger. That comes with growing up in a program and getting more weight training, but this is not something worth worrying about. He's not a perfect receiver, but this kid is as capable as any at the position.
The Cougars now have Mike Leach at the helm and if the coach is known for anything, it is video game like stats. His quarterbacks will be throwing the ball more than people in Pullman have ever seen and that means more balls in the air for Wilson. Leach knows how to use an elite receiver, so look for Marquess to be used all over the formation as a way to create mismatches and maximize his contribution. Topping last season's 1,388 yard performance is not an easy job; look for Wilson's overall yardage number to remain steady, but his receptions to climb over the 100 catch mark.