Wilson's prep coach: WR could lose millions

THE HIGH SCHOOL COACH of suspended Washington State football star Marquess Wilson said he hopes the junior rejoins the Cougars this season, but fears he may turn pro. "If he decides to go pro this year, it's going to cost him millions of dollars," Tulare (Calif.) Union coach Darren Bennett said in a telephone interview with CF.C on Wednesday.

"I mean, he could have gone from a first-round pick all the way down to a fourth- or fifth-round pick. You never know the kind of red flags that go up," said Bennett.

Bennett was referring to the fact that Marquess Wilson walked out of a grueling team conditioning session Sunday night. Bennett also said he believes Wilson needs to gain weight and strength before turning pro.

"I think that would be the best thing for him if he gets back on the team," Bennett said. "It wouldn't surprise me if he went out (turned pro). Just from a physical standpoint, Marquess has always had trouble putting on weight. He's a pretty strong kid. He worked real hard when I had him in the weight room."

Asked if Wilson has come home, Bennett said, "I have not heard one word about him coming home, and I hope like hell he doesn't."

Bennett said he has not spoken to Wilson since he was suspended and does not know if he has quit the team. Bennett said he was aware that WSU coach Mike Leach had been critical of Wilson's practice habits since last spring.

"I think Coach Leach sometimes has a tendency to find somebody and kind of pick on 'em so everybody … that's not the right word. I think he was trying to make an example out of Marquess instead of picking on him."

Bennett, who played quarterback at Northern Arizona, said he believes Leach is like many college head football coaches in their first year at a school in that he tries to be particularly tough on players his first year on the job.

"You know how that is; new coach, they're REALLY, really hard ass on you," Bennett said. "They're even more so than they usually are. "They're trying to make an example of a lot of kids. I'll be honest: They're trying to run a lot of kids off. They're not their kids. The more kids they run off, the more scholarships they're going to have to give to the kids they want to recruit. That's very, very common."

Bennett said he's certain Leach is not trying to "run off" Wilson, who is already Washington State's all-time leading receiver.

"I think he was just trying to make an example of him," Bennett said.

Bennett said Wilson "never dogged it" in practice in high school, but – like the vast majority of players – did not always go 100 percent.

"I've been a head football coach for 24 years," Bennett said. "I would say that 95 percent of everybody goes anywhere from 85 to 95 percent in practice. I mean, the games are totally different. Your adrenalin is up, you're playing in front of thousands of people; it's a totally different animal. I mean, I don't think you ever get game speed in practice."

Bennett added, "I've had some horse's asses who've played for me, and he definitely wasn't one of them. He was a hell of a player … (and) he was very humble and modest, and he worked hard. He really worked hard in the weight room. I put a lot of emphasis on that: How had does the kid work in the weight room? That kind of tells me what kind of work ethic a kid has. He worked really hard."

Wilson leads the Cougars in receiving yards for the third straight year. Among active players in the Football Bowl Subdivision, Wilson ranks second with 3,207 receiving yards, second with 17.0 yards per catch, third with 97.2 receiving yards per game, tied for fifth with 23 touchdown receptions, ninth with 5.7 catches per game and 11th with 189 receptions.

Wilson is not projected as one of the 32 picks in the first round of the 2013 NFL draft by ESPN or CBSSports.com.

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