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The case for Gabe Marks to stay at WSU

SOMETIME BETWEEN NOW and Jan. 18, the deadline for underclassmen to declare for the NFL draft, Washington State wide receiver Gabe Marks will decide whether he’s going to go pro early. The money, and the measure of financial stability it provides, is a hard thing to turn down. There are also reasons, compelling ones, that argue for Marks to stay for his senior year.

Marks could enhance his draft prospects the same way WSU wideout Jason Hill did.  As a junior contemplating going pro early, sources told CF.C back then that Hill received word the highest he was likely to go was in the fourth round (and quite possibly later). Hill improved his stock by returning to WSU and enterting the draft as a senior -- he was a third-round pick.  But my guess is that is not Marks’ only consideration.

Marks could also enhance his draft prospects by doing the same thing he did this past offseason, putting on some additional ‘good’ weight. That in turn could enhance his prospects for staying injury-free as a senior, something the NFL scouts are no doubt looking at with the 6-0, 190-pounder -- not because of the Apple Cup injury but because of how many times this season he got up slowly after a play. But I don’t think that’s the biggest thing either.

NFL draft guru Rob Rang projects Marks to go in the fifth round (see related story below). But even if Marks were to go as high as the third round this year, next year’s draft looks more appealing for wide receivers -- this year’s NFL draft class at wideout is stacked and unusually deep, Rang tells CF.C.  Marks’ draft stock could rise significantly on that one factor alone.  Again, I think this is a consideration but not the biggest one.

Marks could finish his WSU career as the most prolific grabmaster in the 101-year history of the Pac-12 in 2016.  Marks has 99 grabs this season and 222 career catches, with the Sun Bowl to come.  Nelson Spruce holds the all-time Pac-12 record with 294 receptions.  Marks, given what he did this season, could break Spruce’s mark around Week Eight next year with Luke Falk feeding him the ball, and then proceed to pile on catches on top of it. Marks would also add myriad WSU program records to the ones he already holds. That’s closer, but not quite it. 

So what is it? What is the biggest thing compelling Marks to stay?

I think what Gabe Marks wants – what he wants most - is to be the guy who helped lead Washington State back to the Rose Bowl. 

Marks didn’t like it one bit when the Biletnikoff Award committee left him off its finalist list. But he didn’t like losing to Stanford more.  When he caught his 14th TD pass this season, he made a beeline for the ESPN camera to say in no uncertain terms GameDay should have come to Pullman this season. “You would think College GameDay would have a little more loyalty to us considering all we time we've flown that flag behind them,” Marks said weeks earlier to Sports Illustrated.

Yes, Marks bristles when he doesn’t get his individual due -- but what really ticks him off is when Washington State doesn’t get the credit Marks thinks it deserves. 

Washington State playing in the Rose Bowl for the first time since 2003, with “Falk-to-Marks” having become part of the national college football lexicon, would take care of that nicely.

RELATED STORY: NFL prospects for Marks, Dahl, Vaeao & more


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