Oregon State may not be known for producing a ton of elite NFL talent, but the Beavers have supplied the league with a gem here and there. Chad Johnson, who was at one time one of the NFL's most effusive personalities, was a product of Oregon State. Steven Jackson, the bruising halfback who has run for more than 1,000 yards every year since 2005, also hails from Oregon State.
The next big playmaker from Oregon State could be in the 2013 NFL draft. His name is Markus Wheaton, and he promises to be an electric talent at wide receiver.
Wheaton is a smaller receiver, clocking in at 5'11" and 189 pounds, but his quickness is fantastic. He can do damage from either the outside or in the slot, his quick feet allowing him to easily overwhelm defenders. He shows great hands and will stretch out to snatch the ball out of the air on wide passes.
Wheaton had a fantastic year in 2012, leading the Beavers with 91 receptions for 1,244 yards and 11 touchdowns. But enough reading, let's check out some of Wheaton's most spectacular highlights from his collegiate days.
As this play begins, Wheaton dishes out a quick head fake to lose the corner who is covering him. He's able to get leverage on the defender and takes his route outside, forcing the corner to initiate contact with Wheaton to throw him off his route.
Wheaton stays upright and runs through the contact, tracking the ball to its peak height before grabbing it out of the air for the touchdown. Wheaton is clearly accustomed to playing against physical corners.
This isn't the fanciest of highlights, but it displays Wheaton's toughness. With Oregon State lined up at about the opponent's 20-yard line, the Beavers' QB hits Wheaton over the middle.
Still roughly 15 yards shy of the goal line, Wheaton stretches to the left sideline to outrun a defender's angle. As he cuts up the middle to the goal line, he lowers his shoulder to accept a big hit from his right side. The impact knocks Wheaton into the end zone, rewarding the receiver's grit with six points.
You can see it in the Arizona State defender's movements. He thinks he's got an easy interception.
Not while Markus Wheaton is the intended receiver.
What initially looks like a poorly placed pass ends up as a perfectly led throw. Wheaton swoops in at the last second to snatch the ball away from the defender, who falls in puzzled confusion. The rest of the defense suddenly seems paralyzed as Wheaton knifes his way between defenders en route to another Oregon State touchdown.
This has got to be one of the most difficult kinds of catches to make.
Not only is Wheaton completely turned around and backpedaling, but he also has a defender in his face and has very little room to get his feet inbounds.
Wheaton never budges, though. His concentration and field awareness allow him to leap in the air and secure the catch even with the defender's hands reaching in for the ball. He then lands inbounds with enough room for an NFL touchdown.
Wheaton shows off his straight-line speed on this deep route. The receiver erupts into a dead sprint as the ball is snapped, blowing right by UCLA's defenders.
The QB sees him come open deep and chucks a hanging spiral. The defender closes in on Wheaton and attempts to distract the receiver from making the catch. But Wheaton's concentration has already been hailed earlier in this slideshow, so it comes as no surprise that Wheaton easily makes the catch in the end zone.
He's not the fastest player on the field, but Wheaton makes up for it with great hands and focus.
Perhaps one of Wheaton's greatest traits is his refusal to give up on a potential reception. If the ball is coming his way, you can bet he's going to do everything in his power to make sure it ends up in his hands.
The above clip is evidence of that fact. Wheaton is running a deep route down the sideline. The corner in coverage is forcing Wheaton to stay close to the sideline in an attempt to ruin his route.
The corner never sees the ball enter the sky, and thus never turns his head. With his only clear path to the ball blocked off by the defender, Wheaton does the only thing he can: He jumps up and over the corner's head and catches the ball off his back.
There truly are some things you just can't defend.
By now, you should have gathered that Wheaton is a deadly deep threat. In case you're still unsure, take this final clip.
This play's success can be chalked up to the defense's blown coverage as much as Wheaton's abilities. The corner doesn't play quite as tight on Wheaton because he expects his safety to be there for help. Unfortunately, the safety plays way too far in the middle, allowing Wheaton to run wide open.
The quarterback hits Wheaton in stride, who then proceeds to make the opposing safety look a little silly before he's finally caught from behind after a huge gain.
As these highlights have shown, Markus Wheaton is definitely one to keep your eye on in the upcoming 2013 NFL draft.