DAY 9 PART I - Notebook: Marks goes nuclear

PULLMAN -- The Cougs performed at a much higher level Friday, much to the pleasure of head man Mike Leach. The defensive backs were having a hard time staying with Rickey Galvin, more NFL scouts were in attendance, as was one of the Cougs' verbal commits. And although just a few days into his collegiate career at WSU, it's clear that receiver Gabriel Marks is really, really good.

When asked whether Marks has the ability to start for the Cougs as a true freshman, Mike Leach didn't beat around the bush.

Marks may start for this team.

"Yeah, he's played really well," Leach said. "He's had more work than a lot of guys and hasn't really fatigued much. He's a skill level ahead of some of the guys we already have."

Sophomore quarterback Connor Halliday couldn't concur more, agreeing that Marks is a sight to see.

"Gabe came in as one of the most polished route runners I have ever seen," Halliday said, echoing earlier thoughts from Jeff Tuel. "The sky is the limit for his potential."

Marks put on an absolute clinic Friday at the z-receiver spot, beating virtually every cornerback on the roster for at least one score, all the while dropping zero balls.

Marks beat senior Daniel Simmons twice for scores, juniors Damante Horton and Nolan Washington once, and he beat sophomore Tracy Clark twice as well. To top it all off, Marks finished his outstanding afternoon by hauling in a 50-yard touchdown over freshman corner Ray Ford and junior safety Deone Bucannon in tight coverage.

In total, the explosive split-end caught seven touchdowns on the day.

FOR MARKS, transitioning from high school football to college football has been an adjustment, but it's one he says fits his skill set nicely.

"I've always liked catching the ball ever since I was a little kid," Marks said. "I take pride in it, it's just fun to me, it's what I like to do."

Not only does Marks display a big game, but he may show off an even bigger mouth. The young playmaker makes it no secret when he makes a big play. Indeed, Marks has quickly become known as a trash talker, and a good one at that -- much to the chagrin of the defensive backs in camp.

When asked about the young wideout, the savvy veteran Simmons tensed up, showing obvious frustration. Not much was forthcoming though, as Simmons and the rest of the defensive backfield haven't had too much success against the talented newcomer.

Although verbal jabs were exchanged all Friday afternoon, and every afternoon for that matter, Marks doesn't think it gets in the way of his relationships with players off the field.

"We're all friends," Marks said. "It's just camp, we're working through the days of camp. You gotta do something to get through practice and stuff, we go out and have fun with it."

Marks added having such a preseason All-America receiver candidate like Marquess Wilson at his side through camp has been a huge advantage.

"I watch Marquess every day," Marks said. "I'm always in the background snooping and listening to what (he and outside WRs coach Dennis Simmons) are talking about. He's helped me a lot."

ALTHOUGH MARKS AGAIN grabbed the practice spotlight, several other players had very nice days as well.

Galvin, a sophomore, has taken the slot receiver role assigned to him and run with it.

Galvin has been exceedingly quick in and out of his cuts, and we are yet to see a defensive back stay with the shifty, hybrid WR/RB in one-on-one situations.

Since moving over the to the slot Galvin has had lot of success at the position, and contrary to what many might think of the 5-8, 176 pounder, he appears to have some of the best hands on the team.

Elsewhere on the field, sophomore receiver Kristoff Williams was back on the field after missing a few days with an undisclosed injury. Williams ran with the second and scout team offenses today.

From the sidelines it didn't appear any major injuries were sustained on the field Friday afternoon, though fighting through the dog days of summer, everyone is a little banged up at this time.

--Junior linebacker Darren Markle was on crutches today, but was able to ride the stationary bike in a very limited capacity.

--Senior offensive lineman Taylor Meighen began the day on the field, but after individual drills removed his pads and rode the stationary bike for the remainder of the afternoon with an apparent leg injury.

--Sophomore defensive lineman Kalafitoni Pole was in uniform, but rode the stationary bike all afternoon.

--Senior receiver Andrei Lintz did not participate in practice today. Lintz had his right knee taped and rode the stationary bike all afternoon.

--Freshman running back Teondray Caldwell did a few running back drills, but was not in uniform and rode the stationary bike the majority of practice.

--Freshman wideout Dominique Williams remains sidelined with a cast on his left hand.

--Junior offensive guard Niu Sale remained out of pads and did not participate all afternoon.

--Freshman nose tackle Xavier Cooper did not practice and was in a walking boot.

--Junior offensive tackle Rico Forbes appeared toward the end of practice with his knee in a brace and taped up, walking with crutches. Sources told on Thursday Forbes may be lost for the season with a torn ACL..

  • The Cougs' practice had several visitors Friday, one towering over the rest. Washington State verbal commit Cody O'Connell observed for most of the afternoon. O'Connell is listed at 6-8, 350 pounds -- and he is every single bit of it. O'Connell, who will be a senior at Wenatchee High this September, already seems to already have a body built for the Pac-12.

  • Also viewing today's practice were scouts from the Oakland Raiders and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Both scouts watched a majority of the quarterback/receiver drills, as well as the scrimmage toward the end of practice.

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