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Pac-12 Confidential

Bud Withers offers an inside look at the Pac-12 Conference and the national college scene.

November 7, 2012 at 6:30 PM

What should Marquess Wilson do?

Bill Moos, Washington State athletic director, appeared on both KJR and 710 ESPN sports-talk shows Wednesday afternoon, and said he has talked with suspended receiver Marquess Wilson and seemed to leave the door open for a possible return by Wilson. He stipulated that the decision would be up to head football coach Mike Leach, as it should be. But he said he’d go to bat for Wilson if he wanted to return.

I assume Wilson would have to do a lot of repairing, and that would mean a ton of physical punishment. Without knowing his specific reason for leaving the team in Sunday night’s rigorous conditioning drill, I can’t know whether he’d be inclined to endure that.

Wilson is a third-year junior. The pat, easy solution would be, come back, make amends with Leach and the players and stick the season out before heading off to get ready for the NFL draft. Since the suspension carries only into next week — so we know, at least — that means the season would be over for him about 11 days later with the Apple Cup Nov. 23.

I contend it’s far from that simple. Wilson came to WSU at 17 years old, so he’s a young junior. He’s also a guy who has admitted he has trouble gaining weight. When I spent time with him last July in Pullman, I believe he said he weighed about 185.

He’s not a physical receiver. He sometimes has trouble getting releases off the line of scrimmage. That isn’t going to change against some of the physical corners in the NFL.

Nor is it going to be a positive that Wilson split on the Cougars, although he could help heal that vis a vis the NFL if he returns.

The point is, Wilson badly needs a fourth season — if not at WSU, then somewhere else. So if he makes the commitment to return to the Cougars this year, it ought to be with the idea that he’s all-in for 2013 as well.

If not, then the best thing for his future is to transfer, sit out the required redshirt year in 2013, and return for a fifth-year season at the school of his choice as a senior in 2014. By then, he’s two years older, perhaps he’s bulked to the needed 200-210 pounds or so, and he’s a lot more NFL-ready. (That would present the bizarre situation of being the career-leading receiver at one school and then playing for another. So be it.)

And he’s a lot higher draft pick than he’ll be if today, he’s played his last college football.

Moos said on 710 ESPN radio that he thinks Wilson has been frustrated by double coverage, by not starting two straight games, and “I think the frustration just came to a head. He had a little bit of a meltdown.”

As for what he told Wilson in their meeting, Moos said, “This team is lacking leadership and he should have been a leader, and walking out on conditioning after 20 minutes doesn’t give that impression . . . I also told him Mike Leach called that a suspension, and typically, you’d have been kicked off the team.

“In that great kid, there’s leadership qualities. But like with everybody, you’ve got to play for the name on the front, not on the back.”

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