One to watch in 2010: WR Markus Wheaton

Markus Wheaton was one of eight true freshmen on the Beavs to see playing time in the 2009 season. The cousin of former Oregon Duck star Kenny Wheaton, he hails from Chandler, Ariz. and possesses a unique blend of speed and athleticism -- so much so he is expected to be an integral part of potentially the best receiver crew OSU has seen since 2000.

Some close followers have questioned whether or not Markus Wheaton was utilized enough to warrant burning his redshirt year and potentially hindering that first year development so vital in OSU's system. An injury to Darrell Catchings — who was supposed to be the starter at flanker — helped press Wheaton into action and the freshman was forced to learn on the fly.

After NCAA Clearinghouse troubles forced Markus to miss weeks of fall practice, Mike Riley stuck to his guns and Wheaton ran for four yards on one carry and caught two balls for 13 yards in OSU's opener against Portland State. Wide-eyed or not, his career began.

When called upon to catch or carry, Wheaton delivered, albeit that wasn't often. Wheaton wrapped up his first season as a Beaver with 79 yards on 11 rushes (7.2 ypc) and 77 yards on seven catches (11 ypc).

The former Chandler High star showcased soft, reliable hands and a burst upfield with the ball, one that OSU has been accustomed to witnessing with former and current Beaver greats Sammie Stroughter and James Rodgers.

Wheaton is being groomed to take over the fly sweep duties from James Rodgers after his graduation in 2010. And Wheaton finished the 2009 season nicely, scoring his first collegiate touchdown against Washington State on a great cut-back move off the fly sweep from ten yards out.

As Wheaton catches on to the subtleties of Riley's offensive machine, the already impressive averages should only be bolstered with more touches and a greater role. Also, look for Wheaton to make a splash in the return game, whether it be kicks or punts. His kind of athleticism should see the field as much as possible. labeled Wheaton a three star receiver and the 67th best player at his position in the nation. His 4.45 time in the 40 has only been glimpsed so far through his brief contributions in '09.

THERE'S MORE OF 2009 yet to come, with the Las Vegas Bowl and a pivotal matchup with No. 14 BYU in a little over a week's time. But with a young OSU squad losing few players to graduation, it's also not too early to start looking forward and some of the reasons why the Beavs will be among those forecast to challenge for the '10 conference crown:
One to watch in 2010: LB Kevin 'Unga

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