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Washington State has options at receiver
Life after Marquess Wilson doesn’t seem as if it will be an issue for Washington State’s receivers. Then again, they did get a head start.
Aug. 31, WSU @ Auburn, 4 p.m., ESPNU
PULLMAN – Life after Marquess Wilson doesn’t seem as if it will be an issue for Washington State’s receivers. Then again, they did get a head start.
Experience gained by underclassmen last season could pay dividends this year for the Cougars, who return players that accounted for 70 percent of their receiving yards in 2012.
Their top pass-catcher, Brett Bartolone, is back as a sophomore.
And though Wilson led the team in receiving yards last season, the five players who finished directly below him in that statistic are still on the roster – and some of them, such as Dominique Williams, benefited from Wilson’s absence toward the end of last season.
Another year in coach Mike Leach’s Air Raid offense has improved communication, tempo and efficiency.
And even though they haven’t played any games yet, Leach is sure the group has improved from performances that last season moved him to question their toughness.
“They’re tougher now than they were last year,” Leach said. “We’ve got to get tougher yet, but they’re tougher now.”
Outside receivers coach Dennis Simmons likes to say he has five starters at the two outside receiver spots.
So it’s anyone’s guess as to who might run onto the field with WSU’s starting offense on Aug. 31 in Auburn. There are a couple of near-certainties, though.
For one, sophomore Gabe Marks will likely wind up as the starter – or at least play significantly – at “Z” receiver. The ultra-competitive Los Angeles native caught 49 passes for 560 yards as a true freshman last season.
Marks’ performance in camp this season has only reaffirmed the thought that he could be the Cougars’ most dependable outside receiver.
Marks isn’t the only one. Isiah Myers, a junior, is back after catching 42 passes for 438 yards last season, and his camp has been filled with deep routes caught for touchdowns.