WSU Fall Camp Day 18: Could Marks redshirt?

PULLMAN— The Cougars practiced for only about an hour on Thursday afternoon in Martin Stadium, working on various drills and ending with the team period. It was typical work for the Cougs, but the news of the day was anything but ordinary. Immediately after practice, questions surfaced about wide receiver Gabe Marks’ playing status for 2014. And there was some possible insight …

Marks, the Cougs' leading receiver last season who caught the second-most passes in program history, was present with the receivers on Thursday after spending time on the scout team on the previous day. However, he did not wear a helmet for the majority of practice.

And he did not participate in the team period, either.

Mike Leach said it is a possibility the Cougs might redshirt Marks, but nothing has been definitively decided on that matter.

I asked outside receivers coach Dennis Simmons about Marks. He said the junior is a part of the outside receivers corps and then maybe offered a slight hint as to why the possibility of redshirting him is being considered.

“Obviously we’ve wanted him to get back 100 percent healthy, and that’s what we’re working toward now,” Simmons said. “The kid is obviously an incredible talent and he’ll factor in when that time comes.”

WSU, of course, releases zero injury information under Leach so it's unclear what Marks might be dealing with. Marks was limited this spring with a groin injury, tweeting in April he had undergone successful surgery before removing the entry. He has been a limited participant throughout this fall camp as well.

Meanwhile, Teondray Caldwell took reps with the first-team defense on Thursday, and he looked comfortable there. Working alongside Taylor Taliulu, he seemed to be in the right place on plenty of plays, hitting the turf trying to intercept a ball thrown by Connor Halliday on one play. Caldwell came up short on that attempt, but smacked the ground in frustration as if to say that he will get it on the next chance he receives.

But Caldwell’s inclusion with the 1s doesn’t mean he’s necessarily a leading candidate to start.

“I think the biggest thing is trying to evaluate what he can do, and how quickly he’s picking it up,” Leach said of Caldwell running with the starters. “It’s just kind of checking in on his skill set, but also, he would definitely have a shot to be a “1” if he picks it up good and he’s the best one.”

Caldwell had a big hit on receiver John Thompson yesterday after the ball fell to the ground on an incompletion. He has caught the attention of outside receivers coach Dennis Simmons with those kinds of tackles, and Simmons is hoping that continues in games.

“He’s a physical player,” Simmons said of Caldwell. “You saw that when he was on the offensive side of the ball. He’s not afraid of contact so having an in-the-box safety like that. We saw the effect that (Deone) Bucannon had on opposing teams when we watched him lay some people out. If he can continue to play that physical, as he’s done so far in practice, in games, it’s going to be a big plus for our football team.”

Freshman wide receiver Calvin Green took almost all the reps at the H receiver position on Thursday, begging the question of where redshirt senior Rickey Galvin was. I did not see him on the sideline, nor was it apparent that he was taking reps with the first or second offenses during the team period -- however, Leach said after practice that Galvin did well.

“Rickey’s done some good things and had a great fall camp. Calvin is, for a young guy that came in last January, has picked the system up and adjusting and adapting,” Simmons said.

During the team period, the defense played energetically. In addition to Caldwell’s near-interception, Darryl Monroe and Daquawn Brown each almost had interceptions of their own, but they fell out of their hands and to the ground for harmless incompletions.

“I thought he forced two balls, but other than that, he played pretty well. He moved the team pretty good. I thought he moved the team real good,” Leach said of Falk’s day.

Indeed, Falk found Drew Loftus for about a 20-yard score near the end of the team period.

Simmons said that Brown has played very physically for a cornerback who is of a smaller stature, and that Tracy Clark has been impressive with using his experience to anticipate and jump routes.

Halliday also bounced back from the mistake he almost made to Caldwell. He threw touchdowns to Tyler Baker and Jamal Morrow against the second team defense, and he connected with Vince Mayle against the first team for a long touchdown as well.

Mayle had to do a lot of the work himself on his reception, though, as he caught the ball and then turned upfield to weave through the first-team defense for the eventual score.

Simmons has been pleased with how both Mayle and Dom Williams have performed at the X receiver position. Williams made a sweet spin move to elude Caldwell on a completion from Halliday during the team period. Simmons said both players have had a great camp and that it is reasonable to expect both to play against Rutgers.

“They’ve complemented each other, and they’ve competed with each other all throughout camp,” Simmons said. “It’s a plus. You go into a game and not really have to worry about personnel on a particular play because you know with either one of them out there, there’s an opportunity of something good happening on the football field.”

With all the depth at the receiver position, the Cougars plan on rotating just as much as they have in the past, with an emphasis on putting their best four on the field at a time, and rolling with their best eight, Simmons said.

  • Cody O’Connell, Nick Begg and David Bucannon were limited in practice.

  • Senator Michael Baumgartner was present at practice today and talked with Coach Leach afterward.

    Primarily taking reps with the 1’s
    QB: Connor Halliday
    RB: Theron West, Jamal Morrow
    X: Vince Mayle
    Y: River Cracraft
    H: Calvin Green
    Z: Kristoff Williams
    LT: Joe Dahl
    LG: Gunnar Eklund
    C: Riley Sorenson
    RG: Eduardo Middleton
    RT: Cole Madison

    E: Destiny Vaeao
    NT: Kalafitoni Pole
    T: Xavier Cooper
    BUCK: Kache Palacio
    WILL: Tana Pritchard
    SAM: Cyrus Coen
    MIKE: Darryl Monroe
    CB: Daquawn Brown
    CB: Tracy Clark
    FS: Taylor Taliulu
    SS: Teondray Caldwell

    Primarily taking reps with the 2’s
    QB: Luke Falk
    RB: Gerard Wicks
    X: Dom Williams
    Y: Robert Lewis
    H: Calvin Green
    Z: Isiah Myers
    LT: Devonte McClain
    LG: Sean Krepsz
    C: Sam Flor
    RG: B.J. Salmonson
    RT: Jacob Seydel

    E: Darryl Paulo
    NT: Robert Barber
    T: Daniel Ekuale
    BUCK: Ivan McLennan
    WILL: Chester Sua
    SAM: Mitchell Peterson
    MIKE: Jeremiah Allison
    CB: Charleston White
    CB: Patrick Porter
    FS: Darius Lemora
    SS: Isaac Dotson

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