WIDE RECEIVER: WSU Fall Camp Preview

PULLMAN -- Armed with a bona fide All-America candidate and a bevy of potential game-breaking wide receivers, Mike Leach's "Air Raid" offense would seem to fit perfectly with WSU's 2012 roster. The Cougars are going to rack up yards through the air this season. Here's CF.C's wide receiver breakdown headed into fall camp.

Personnel/Stats
X – WR
Marquess Wilson: Third-year junior. Topping a sophomore campaign in which he captured WSU single-season records for receptions (82) and yards (1,388) would be an incredible feat. A CBS Sports 2012 preseason first team All-America pick, and a second team All-Pac-12 selection in 2011, Wilson's growing reel of highlight grabs is going to become a lot longer with Jeff Tuel throwing the ball 50 to 60 times a game.

Dominique Williams: Second-year freshman. Known around campus for a flattop hairdo that evokes memories of the early 90's, Williams will see the field this season. The Pomona, Calif. product redshirted in 2011, earning Scout Team Player of the Week honors against UNLV.

Y - WR
Andrei Lintz: Fifth-year senior. The six-foot-five, 250-pound Russian surprised fans and media members by displaying soft hands and a knack for finding weak spots in zone coverage during spring practices. Lintz is the en vogue choice for a breakout 2012 season, though he must secure the ball better after the catch.

Bobby Ratliff: Third-year sophomore. Ratliff grabbed 28 receptions for 348 yards in his freshman season, displaying soft hands and an edge when traveling across the middle. The highlight came when he hauled in a gorgeous double-reverse pass from former prep QB Kristoff Williams in the fourth quarter of WSU's 30-27 overtime loss to Utah.

Mansell Simmons: Second year Freshman. Redshirted last season. Had an eye-opening spring session in 2012 -- a big, smooth athlete who could become the heir apparent at "Y" -- if he continues to develop. Future aside, he could conceivably begin to make an impact this season in 2012 given the right set of circumstances.

Z - WR
Kristoff Williams: Third-year sophomore. Long hailed by the former coaching staff as the only wide receiver that could rival Marquess Wilson's talent, Williams is a 210-pound physical specimen on the verge of a real uptick in offensive production. Williams caught just nine balls in 2011 but has battled injuries his first two years on campus.

Isiah Myers: Second-year sophomore. Myers caught just seven balls in 2011, racking up a modest 76 yards in 11 games. The Florida native's best game came in WSU's 59-7 win over UNLV in Week 2 when he nabbed two passes for 35 yards.

Drew Loftus: Second-year freshman. Despite little media attention, Loftus looked every bit the part of a serviceable slot man during spring practices. Coaches are already high on the Hawaii transfer.

H - WR
Bennett Bontemps: Third-year junior. Mostly a special teams contributor in 2011, Bontemps currently holds down the top H-WR spot entering fall camp. He snatched just three passes for 24 yards last season.

Gino Simone: Fourth-year senior. With just one final shot to live up to lofty expectations coming out of high school, Simone should be especially motivated for his senior campaign. He caught just four balls in 2011 but showed he could be a productive slot man his freshman year when he caught 36 passes for 330 yards. Simone has battled through injuries much of his career.

Blair Bomber: Third-year sophomore. Bomber may be the fastest man among WSU's impressive group of wideouts. After sitting out 2011 with a torn ACL, the burner from Lynden could quickly ascend the depth chart if he continues his recent progression in fall camp.

Big-H Receiver
Max Hersey: Second-year freshman. Hersey will probably serve almost exclusively as a blocker in 2012 and in certain sets, but he has some pass catching skills, too.

Others in the mix:
Henry Eaddy: Second year Sophomore. 5-8, 158.
Brett McDonald: Second year Freshman. 5-11, 184. Daniel McDonald: Second year Sophomore. 5-11, 183.


Newcomers:
Brett Bartolone: 5-10, 176
Rahmel Dockery: 5-10, 169
Alex Jackson: 5-10, 167
Gabriel Marks 6-0, 167

Marks is the type of four-star wide receiver that can come in and make an immediate impact. Tuel said earlier this summer that his newest weapon runs the most precise routes he's seen from a player coming out of high school.

After suffering through numerous NCAA eligibility issues in 2011, Dockery's impact might be felt most predominantly in the return game this season. He still needs to put on weight but could eventually morph into the type of explosive return man the Cougs haven't seen since Sammy Moore routinely tiptoed down the sidelines nearly a decade ago.

Bartolone is a prime candidate to redshirt as well. Culver City High graduate Alex Jackson, on the other hand, could push for playing time if he enters fall camp with a little added muscle. Jackson is from the same high school as former WSU record-setter Michael Bumpus and is regarded by some as among the most touted players from Leach's inaugural recruiting class.

(Robert Lewis is set to grayshirt to allow more time to add pounds to his frame.)

The battles:
Wilson and Lintz are locks at their respective spots entering camp but all other positions remain a question mark. The intrigue surrounding the "H-receiver" battle is especially compelling. Bontemps appears to have the early lead after showing some promise during the spring, but don't be surprised if Simone or Bomber, or even Marks, unseats him before the season opener.

At "Z," Williams has all the physical tools to solidify the starting spot and his physical skill in beating the press is pronounced. He will simply need to avoid the injuries that have plagued the early stages of his WSU career. If the injury bug should bite, Myers or Loftus could move from special teams contributors to the spotlight, though one also wonders if the Cougs would instead borrow from one of the other positions.

Final thoughts and intangibles:
There is no arguing WSU's considerable depth and talent at wide receiver. However, outside of Wilson, all of Tuel's potential targets are largely unproven.

The Cougars would receive a huge boost if Simone can finally dial into an offensive system while avoiding the injuries that have plagued the majority of his career.

Early bets are on Marks to immediately crack the starting lineup, whether it be at the "H" or "Z" spot. Meanwhile, Lintz's performance during spring practices indicated he might eclipse his eight career receptions in the season opener against BYU alone.

In fact, I wouldn't be shocked if the big ‘fella from Mother Russia hauls in 70-plus receptions and 10 scores in 2012. He looked that good this spring, and so did the system he's playing in.


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