Controversial Washington State Receiver Marquess Wilson Takes a Shot at NFL

By Justine Hendricks
Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports


A rough 2012 season and an acrimonious split with Washington State won’t stop receiver Marquess Wilson from getting a shot at the NFL.

Wilson was invited to the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis next week, where he’ll have the chance to showcase his immense talents in front of pro scouts. It could be a make-it-or-break-it week for the 21-year-old, who cut his junior season short after clashing with the coaching staff.

As a sophomore in 2011, Wilson was a second-team All Pac-12 receiver – and in many conferences, he likely would have been first-team but he was stuck in a logjam of talented Pac-12 wideouts. He was Washington State’s Offensive MVP, setting school single-season records for receptions (82) and receiving yards (1,388) and becoming just the second receiver Cougar in history to have back-to-back 1,000 yard seasons.

Expectations were high for Wilson’s junior year, both because of his abilities and the hope of a high-powered passing offense from new head coach Mike Leach. Unfortunately for Wilson and WSU fans, the reality of 2012 was much less exciting.

Wilson was disciplined for “violation of team rules” and partway through the season, he announced he was quitting the team, raising the suggestion of abuse by the coaching staff.

Leach has been dogged by the accusations of player mistreatment which led to his termination at Texas Tech, but many thought Wilson was crying wolf, attempting to capitalize on the coach’s questionable past.

Though the school and conference began investigating the claims, athletic director Bill Moos immediately jumped to Leach’s defense, suggesting on his radio show that Wilson hadn’t been giving 100 percent on the field.

Wilson later attempted to clarify that he didn’t mean physical abuse and didn’t intend to trash the program. His recent comments suggest that, as many expected, he just didn’t buy in to Leach’s unique way of running a team and talking to players and the media. Leach has always been good for a quote, though his manner got old this year when the team was floundering, but like many coaches, the things he says to players in practice aren’t often fit for print.

Other WSU players said Wilson was targeted more often than many of his teammates, likely because he had the highest upside and the coaches wanted to help him achieve his potential. Instead, they lost him with “motivation” tactics that rubbed Wilson the wrong way.

Now, he’ll have one week to show NFL scouts he’s talented enough to take a chance on and that, despite his ugly break with WSU, he won’t bring any dreaded character issues with him to the NFL – that if he makes it as a professional football player, he’ll act like a professional.

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