The offseason stories on Marquess Wilson have focused on the former Washington State University wide receiver's falling out with that institution, but his player history there shows a young, tall ball-grabber who flashes playmaking ability.
Wilson's split with WSU was messy. A tumultuous relationship with the Cougars' first-year head coach Mike Leach ended when the school's all-time leading receiver quit the team Nov. 4, releasing a letter six days later alleging "physical, emotional and mental abuse" at the hands of the coaches (via the Seattle Times).
This was particularly dicey as Leach has a history of such allegations, but the coaching staff was cleared of wrongdoing in investigations by the Pac-12 conference and WSU (per ProFootballTalk.com).
Wilson continues to claim that what the coaches were doing "wasn't right" and promised to be honest about what happened in team interviews (via ST).
The situation has thrown Wilson's draft prospects up into the air, with him having been going into his senior season as a possible first-round talent (per PFT) to him now being projected anywhere from the first two rounds to maybe not getting drafted at all (via ST).
But with 3,207 reception yards and 23 TDs in three seasons as a Cougar, Wilson has put together an impressive highlight reel that show he has a range of playmaking ability and NFL potential.
Wilson is not a stranger to making one-handed grabs in close coverage. This highlight is just one example of that.
The play has Wilson lined up out wide running straight down the sideline under man coverage.
With the defender never having time to get his head around, Wilson is able to keep distance between himself and the cornerback while stretching his long frame to reach out with his left hand and snatch the ball.
He is then pushed out of bounds.
This highlight shows off Wilson's athleticism.
He is running an out route in the red zone, making his cut just a short distance into the end zone.
It is Wilson vs. the defender, who overruns Wilson's cut but is able to cut back to attempt to make a play on the ball.
Wilson outleaps his defender, extending himself in the air and adjusting to the ball, getting the touchdown.
In this play-action pass, Wilson gets behind the safeties down the seam.
He is able to adjust looking back to catch the ball while maintaining enough momentum to get his hips back around and keep running.
From there it's a footrace, with Wilson showing an extra gear of acceleration that gives him the separation to win the race and run more than 50 yards after the catch to score the touchdown.
In this highlight, Wilson shows what he can do in the open field.
The play is a wide receiver screen pass where Wilson starts off with two blockers a couple of yards past the line of scrimmage.
He makes one defender miss with a cut to the right, then takes advantage of a block, out-guns another defender and takes advantage of one more block.
By this point, Wilson cuts toward the sideline as he uses his arm to fend off one last defender and flies from there into the end zone for the touchdown.
This is a short clip, but it shows an important skill.
Here, Wilson out-jumps two defenders in the back corner of the end zone to come down with the touchdown.
The clip continues with Wilson making several other catches in traffic with at least two defenders bearing down, showing Wilson's skill at fighting for the ball in traffic and against adversity.
In this highlight, Wilson shows what he can do with just one blocker from the flat.
He does a quick route fake before settling back into the flat to wait for the ball.
Once he gets it, he quickly gets behind his blocker to shake off the first defender, then cuts back and simply outruns the remaining defenders by displaying again his acceleration.
He's able to muscle his legs through one late attempted tackle to get into the end zone for the 40-yard touchdown.
Here Wilson executes a nice fake-out at the line of scrimmage with the play setting a pick between another defender and his own.
Wilson is then able to catch the ball over the middle and—with several good blocks—accelerate past the remaining defenders to get into the end zone.
His original defender was never able to get anywhere close again to Wilson despite pursuing him the entire play.