April 17, 2000
By Steve Jacobson, WSU Sports Information
There is a lot of excitement on the Washington State campus and especially on the football field surrounding wide receiver Marcus Williams.
The 6-foot-5 monster with soft hands has coaches and players eager to see what he will do in his senior year.
How lofty are some of the expectations?
"I don't want to compare him to anybody, but if you wanted to, Randy Moss would be a comparison," said quarterback Jason Gesser. "Same size, close to the same speed. We watch him stretch and he's real flexible and we say 'man this guy is big, he's flexible, fast and he's got the hands.' He has the total package and it's a real big plus to have him out there on our side of the ball."
Williams could only comeback with this straight-faced remark when told of Gesser's comparison, "I would probably say that's true. I have less speed. I'm not a 4.2 (40-yard time) guy, but then I weight about 30 pounds more than him."
The reason for the notoriety is the fact that Williams is one of the leading returning receivers on the team and this year he is comfortable in the offense.
"He's a great player for us," said fellow wide receiver Collin Henderson. "He has a lot of tools. He looks a lot better this year and his routes look better. He knows the offense and understands what he's doing."
The senior caught 28 passes for 443 yards and four touchdowns while playing in all 12 games. He won't take a lot of credit for the year he had, instead pointing to others that helped him.
"I had a lot of help from the guys last year," he said. "Nian (Taylor) was here and Farwan (Zubedi) helped me out a bit. But Nian really helped me out a lot last year. It was a lot to learn, but it became easier as time passed."
During the ninth game of the 1999 season, Williams began to break out and show the fans he was as big as the hype surrounding him. Against Oregon, the ninth game of the year, Williams caught four passes for 71 yards. In the following game against USC, he had a season-best seven catches for 121 yards and one touchdown.
The one thing Williams draws the most recognition from his teammates is the one thing most people wouldn't even notice.
"He's about the best stalk blocker I've ever seen," Levenseller said. "He gets that big body out into people. He's kind of a short-legged tall guy, which is kind of unusual. It makes him real quick and that allows him to stay on blocks."
Henderson, who was the recipient of many wide receiver screens last year will be the first to tell you the long gain on the screen is a direct result of Williams' blocking.
"Not only can he catch the ball and run real well, he can block," Henderson said. "He's a very skilled blocker. Usually I was the one catching (the Bubble Screen) and he would pancake the corner for me and that made my job easy."
One thing Williams has done to ensure that he will continue to be a force both on and off the ball was he gained 16 pounds since the beginning of last season, pushing him to 231 pounds.
"The weight training Dave (Lang) had us on just worked," Williams said. "I can gain weight pretty easily. It just works that if I lift weights, I'm going to gain weight. It's that simple."
Gesser likes having the prospects of having taller wide receivers to throw the ball to in the red zone.
"Him and Milton (Wynn) on the outside, plus we've got a couple guys coming in with good size, so it really helps down on the goal line," he said. "You could look at Marcus, give him a wink on the line, and throw the ball out there and he can go up and come down with it most of the time.
"He brings a lot of versatility to the offense. To have somebody big like that, to have the speed that he has, to have the agility that he has. Even when he's covered you can throw him the ball and he will make a nice grab it with his long arms."
Playing wide receiver is something that is relatively knew to Williams. While attending Berkeley High in Oakland, Calif., Williams only played football two years and spent only one of them as a wide receiver/tight end.
After graduating from BHS, Williams went to the University of Colorado to play wide receiver, but a problem with his transcripts forced him off the football field in Boulder. "I didn't know anything about it, but the NCAA Clearinghouse felt that I should go to JC," he said.
So Williams left and took the rest of the year off, leaving him to ponder three options. Return to Colorado now that everything was corrected,. follow his high school friend to Chabot JC, or go to Laney JC, which is located in Oakland.
"It was convenient for me, it was in my hometown," Williams said of his choice to attend Laney. "I didn't have a lot of access to transportation."
His first year at Laney wasn't a big success as Williams only caught seven passes for 133 yards and two touchdowns.
"Growing up I had real good hands. But my first year at Laney, they weren't there. After that I had to work on them more. They had left me for a minute. I think it was because I didn't go to Laney straight out of high school. I sat out for a year and I think that sitting out for a year kind of messed me up."
So he set out to improve during his sophomore season and he did just that. He was selected by Super Prep Magazine as one of the Top 100 All-American's in the nation after catching 31 passes for 767 and eight touchdowns in seven games.
As Williams prepares for his senior year at WSU, he knows this is his time to shine and help the team improve from the 3-9 record of last year.
"I expect to contribute a whole lot, to make some big plays here and there and hopefully it will lead us to a bowl game," he said. "I think this year if we have close games, like we did last year, I think we will be able to win them just for the simple fact that the team is more together this year. There aren't too many individuals. Everybody seems to be more family oriented this year. I think we will come together more during tough times."
While bowl scouts keep their eye on the Pac-10 and the Cougars, NFL scouts will be keeping an eye on Williams.
"I think there good, but that is in somebody else's hands," Levenseller said regarding Williams' chance to play professionally. "He needs to show scouts what he can do. Us having that opinion never seems to matter. They are going to make their own decisions. He needs to be tenacious on the field, make plays and catch some scouts eyes."
Those are the same things Randy Moss did to catch the scouts' eyes of nearly every NFL team just a few years ago.