His 176 career receptions established a school record that took four-and-a-half decades to break. And it was set at a time when freshmen weren’t allowed on the varsity.
Nine U.S. presidents traveled through the Oval Office and more than 20 seasons of West Coast offense had entertained the faithful by the time Michael Bumpus eclipsed the legendary Phantom of the Palouse in 2007.
The fact it took 45 years to break the mark, though, speaks to the power of coach Jim Sutherland’s then-cutting edge passing attack and the sheer brilliance of Campbell, who is pictured above right in one of the most iconic publicity shots WSU ever produced.
Mike Leach’s Air Raid is of course re-writing the books. So much so that Gabe Marks (above left) was asked the other day which of his records he cherishes most and he said, “I love all my children equally.” But then, he added, breaking Bumpus’ mark for career receptions last season “was kind of a big one.”
Indeed. There’s nothing quite like a career record that screams out production the way total receptions does.
GOING INTO THIS Saturday night’s (7:30/ESPN) home tilt with California, Marks owns 288 career catches. He needs just seven more to break the Pac-12 record held by Nelson Spruce (Colorado, 2012-15).
The next-closest guy to Marks on WSU’s top 10 list is fellow senior River Cracraft (at 209 and counting). They are the only teammates in the 101-year history of the Pac-12 with 200-plus catches each.
If Marks maintains his 2016 average of 6.77 catches per game, he will conclude his career with 315 receptions. Not that his current total, 288, isn’t staggering enough.
So here’s the question: Is Gabe Marks the modern-day Hugh Campbell?
Is he setting a record so monstrous that it could stand for decades?
All bets are off with the Air Raid, but here’s the daunting math for anyone eyeing Mount Marks: You’ll not only need to be a four-year starter, but a four-year standout. Marks’ run in Cougarville looks like this:
- 2012: 49 catches
- 2013: 74 catches
- 2014: redshirt
- 2015: 104 catches
- 2016: 61 catches (which projects to 88 for this season)
That averages out to nearly 80 catches per season.
Here is another formidable reason why Marks’ record will be so hard to beat: He and Cracraft came into the program when Leach was just beginning. The roster depth is now far greater than it used to be. No matter how talented, is there even room for a true- or second-year freshman to snag 50 or 60 catches to get the process rolling toward the record?
Moreover, Leach can’t coach the Cougars forever and the odds are his successors won't throw the ball as early and often as he does, makes a receiving record that much more difficult to break.
So I’m going out on a limb right now and say Gabe Marks’ name is going to be sitting at No. 1 on WSU’s career receptions for at least a decade. And by today’s standards, that makes him the modern Hugh Campbell.
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NOTABLES MARKS NOTES:
* In addition to the career receptions record, Marks also owns the WSU record for receiving touchdowns (34) and he needs just 27 more hashes to replace Marquess Wilson atop the career receiving yards list.
* Marks ranks fourth among all active FBS receivers in career receptions and second in career TDs.
* He has eight career games with 10-plus receptions – the most in WSU history.
WSU’S CAREER RECEPTIONS TOP 10:
- Gabe Marks (2012-16), 288 and counting
- River Cracraft (2013-16), 209 and counting
- Michael Bumpus (2005-07), 195
- Dom Williams (2012-15), 192
- Marquiss Wilson (2010-12), 189
- Brandon Gibson (2005-08), 182
- Hugh Campbell (1960-62), 176
- Jared Karstetter (2008-11), 166
- Isiah Myers (2011-14), 165
- Phillip Bobo (1990-92); Jason Hill (2003-06); Vince Mayle (2013-14), 148 each