Washington State University's football team has shown its competitive spirit in a season that will likely end with one win.
The Cougars are a better team than they were last year. This is no secret.
One bright spot on this year's squad is true freshman wide receiver Marquess Wilson from Tulare Union High School of Tulare, CA.
Wilson had multiple scholarship offers out of high school. In the end, Wilson chose Washington State over Arizona State, Nevada, San Diego State, UNLV, and Fresno State.
Give head coach Paul Wolff credit for convincing Marquess to bring his talents to Pullman, WA, a college town known for its isolated location.
As the 96th-ranked wide receiver in the nation coming out of high school, many thought Marquess lacked speed and good route running. When evaluating him in high school Scouts.com criticized Wilson for having stiff hips prolonging his cuts, causing minimal separation between him and defensive backs.
All Wilson has done through the first four games of his career is dominate opposing secondary's. He currently ranks eighth in the nation with 458 receiving yards. Against Oklahoma State, Wilson made a splash in his debut with four receptions for 108 yards and one touchdown.
Wilson is on pace to shatter freshman receiving records at Washington State. Through the first three games of the year Wilson had four receptions of 40-plus yards—more than any Cougar all of 2009. He is just the second freshman ever to post multiple 100-yard receiving games. Phillip Bobo did it three times in 1990.
What's been most impressive is Wilson's deceptive speed coupled with his size and jumping ability. In high school Wilson cleared 6'8" in the high jump. At 6'3" he has caused opposing teams problems defending the deep ball. He has simply out-jumped double teams, as was the case in the UCLA game when he hauled in a deep pass from quarterback Jeff Tuel for 50 yards.
At a combine in high school last year Wilson ran a 4.67 40-yard dash. It's obvious he doesn't have lightning speed, but what he doesn't have he makes up for with quick route running, big hands, and long arms.
In my opinion his ability to go up and get the football amongst a crowd is second to none in the nation. His intermediate routes have been even more impressive. He has shown great elusiveness, oftentimes creating separation that mirrors a dominate player.
Tuel's development has clearly helped in Wilson's success so far. After zero stability at the position a year ago, Tuel has taken advantage of his consistent starts. Tuel has surpassed his 2009 performance five games into this season. Optimism is high in Pullman, as these two will continue to work together over the next two-plus years.
While only a freshman, Marquess should catch scouts and GMs' eyes across the country. His presence at Washington State will lure many in the NFL to take notice. His success early in his career was unexpected, giving him years to develop into an NFL receiver.
His accolades will mount as he matures at the wide receiver position. Wilson is proving that ranking high school players is absurd. The Cougars fan base has become accustomed to these losing seasons, but one must remain optimistic, as Wilson has instilled stability at a position that can win games. The sky's the limit for Marquess as he embarks on a journey that should prove entertaining and dominant.