Gabe Marks had just finished adding to his Washington State University legacy on Saturday night before he got temporarily stonewalled.
An Apple Cup question came up after the game. When told his greatness might not be seen in the same light in Seattle as it is in Pullman, the outspoken native of Venice, California, paused to consider the statement.
“Really? They don’t know about me?” Marks said. “Not as much as I think they do, probably.”
The thought slightly offended him. Who in college football doesn’t know Gabe Marks and his prowess as a receiver?
“The people here know about me, so that is cool. I mean, that is what matters,” Marks said. “I don’t really care about what people from Seattle think, because there is a school over there we don’t really care for.
“They have a nice stadium, and I am going to go over there and run some good routes, and see what happens.”
With a personality to match his production, Marks is one WSU receiver Cougars fans will not soon forget.
The redshirt junior already holds three school records: most career catches (215, well ahead of Michael Bumpus’ 195 from 2004-07); most single-season touchdown receptions (14 this season, breaking previous tie with Jason Hill’s 13, set in 2005); and single-game touchdown catches (four earlier this season against Arizona).
With two games remaining, another mark — Vince Mayle’s single-season record of 106 catches, set last season — is still within reach. Marks has 92 receptions.
And if Marks chose to stick around one more season and forego the NFL Draft, he could end up taking most of the significant receiving records with him.
“It’s kind of like every week, (the defensive players) will be sitting over there and see the ball go up there and we’ll go, ‘Huh?’ ” WSU safety Isaac Dotson said. “But Gabe comes down with it.
“I don’t know how he does what he does, but I like it.”
By now, many know Marks’ background. He was 9 years old when his father, Michael, was shot to death in Los Angeles in 2004. He picked up football as a way to cope with the family tragedy, and developed an insatiable work ethic.
He was coach Mike Leach’s first blue-chip recruit to WSU in 2012. Even in his first fall-camp practice, Marks was making tough catches and racking up touchdowns against veteran defensive backs — and yelling to those who would listen that he could not covered by one player.
Yet, his style is rarely offensive, but fun-loving. Very calculated, he displays a keen sense of humor, and does not shy away from answering a question honestly.
“I am from Venice, man,” Marks said. “That is how I do it. I am not into that (cookie-cutter stuff). It is how I was raised. It is how I grew up. If someone asks you something — if someone wants to do something — you answer it. You don’t ask any questions, you just answer the questions — answer the call.”
Marks caught 49 passes as a true freshman in 2012, then backed that up during a monster sophomore campaign with 74 catches for 807 yards and seven touchdowns.
But Marks ran into difficulty in 2014, starting with an arrest after a bar fight in February. He pleaded guilty to an assault charge, was put on probation and served community hours.
He missed spring football with an unspecified illness then was surprisingly redshirted that fall.
Marks said he did not pout, or take it personally. Instead, he said he listened to the counsel of Leach on how to deal with life’s tough moments.
“I learned a lot, just to keep going, keep attacking (the issues), even if you feel like you are not having a good day, or it becomes too easy and you’ve reached where you want to go,” Marks said. “You just keep hitting the rock, and you will be fine.”
All Leach would discuss about Marks’ tough year was that “a bunch of stuff hit him at once.”
“He sort of just gradually, continually battled through it,” Leach said. “A couple months in (to his redshirt season), he dedicated himself to improving his skills as a player — working extremely hard as a player. And he had an offseason where he was extremely hungry for improvement and that example rubbed off on others as well.”
Marks hauled in his record-setting 14th touchdown pass from backup Peyton Bender in the fourth quarter of the Cougars’ 27-3 victory over Colorado on Saturday night.
After the catch, Marks went directly over to an ESPN cameraman to address how the ‘College Game Day’ crew should have come to Pullman for WSU-Stanford a few weeks ago, not Temple-Notre Dame.
“I was like, ‘Hey, you know, we’re pretty good. You guys should have come down here. That would have been a lot of fun,’ ” Marks said. “I was feeling pretty good about it (Saturday night). We were in the white helmets, the white pants and the white cleats and I had just made a play. So, why not?”
When asked about his WSU career, Marks called it “more interesting than normal.”
“College is kind of like that. You go to school here, you are going to get into some (stuff), you know,” Marks said. “It is life, growing up and stuff like that. Weird things happen. You have adversity — ups and downs.
“I had to learn to just deal with it and keep moving on. Every day, the problems don’t stop just because you are having a good season. You’ve just got to learn how to work through it.”