WHEATON: "This will be a tough, tough one"

SNAGGING A GREAT receiver prospect that had offers from most of the Pac-10 including USC and UCLA is always satisfying for Beaver Nation. But seeing a player whose cousin starred at the University of Oregon, and he wants to play in Corvallis - now that's something special.

Chandler's Markus Wheaton was one of the most highly sought after receivers in the state of Arizona.  He was named the sixth best recruit in Arizona by SuperPrep and the 66th best receiver in the nation according to Scout.com.

With a 39 inch vertical, solid hands and the ability to make plays in traffic Wheaton is a dynamic football player.  As a senior he caught 37 passes for 746 yards (19.9 ypc) and four touchdowns while adding 304 yards and two touchdowns on 29 carries on the ground.

For his exploits he earned All-State honorable mention honors for the second consecutive year while being named a first team All-Fiesta League receiver for the third straight season.

"He had a great highlight video and right away we put him at the top of the list for the type of receiver we would like to get," assistant coach Jay Locey told the Joe Beaver Radio Show.  "He's got speed, the ability to catch and the running ability." 

While the coaches loved Wheaton's highlight tape, head coach Mike Riley immediately recognized the last name and knew they were going to be in for a tough battle with Oregon.  Wheaton's cousin, Kenny Wheaton, earned All-American honors at Oregon and is responsible for "The Pick."

"Right when I recognized the name I thought this will be a tough, tough one when you have those kind of connections," Riley said.

Riley credits offensive line coach Mike Cavanaugh, who is responsible for scouting and recruiting Arizona, for evaluating him early and Locey for staying in contact with him throughout the process.

"Mike and Jay Locey, in particular, did an outstanding job of staying with Wheaton during the entire process," Riley said.  "Markus in the end selected the place he was going to be the most comfortable at and the people he was going to be with."

Wheaton visited Oregon State in December when the team was preparing for their bowl match up with Pittsburgh.  He bonded with his host, James Rodgers, and had a blast when the team went on a paintball outing.

"He came here in December and hit it off really well with our guys," Locey said.

One thing that Wheaton loved about the OSU football team is that he couldn't tell who the superstars where.

"He told his dad, 'The neat thing about Oregon State is you don't know who the superstars are there'" Locey said.  "He had gone to several other schools and he said you could tell who the superstars were by the way they acted."

The three star recruit also said he loved the family atmosphere and the close knit community - a common theme from all of the commits this year.

"It is not too often that an individual can recognize that about a program when just visiting, but some did" Riley said.  "Michael Philipp did, Markus Wheaton did and they verbalized it.

"Everybody's got a nice stadium.  Everybody's got a good weight room.  And most of the universities in the Pac-10 have a good education if you put yourself into it.  What separates it?

"Some of these guys that can take some of these things that are different and say these are what separates Oregon State - I want that guy because he gets it.  He is making a decision based on what's real."

With a solid set of receivers returning for the Beavers Wheaton will redshirt and have a shot at the two deeps as a redshirt freshman.  At the conclusion of the 2010 season four receivers graduate and a starting spot will be up for grabs.  Until then Wheaton has found a home and a team that he loves.

"It just felt good being there," Wheaton told ESPN.com  "It's hard to explain but it just felt right at Oregon State. Like you get that special feeling about a school and that's what it was for me at Oregon State."


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