INDIANAPOLIS — Marquess Wilson understands he has some explaining to do.
Considered a potential first-round draft pick heading into the 2012 season, the former Washington State University player was suspended indefinitely after nine games for violating unspecified team rules after reportedly walking out of an intense workout last November.
Days later, Wilson quit the team and released a statement in which he claimed that under first-year Cougars coach Mike Leach “physical, emotional and verbal abuse (is) being allowed in the locker room and on the field.”
Wilson later sent a text message to Washington State athletic director Bill Moos, stating that no physical abuse occurred that he observed while he was on the football team.
“I didn’t really recant it,” Wilson said. “I was just trying to clarify it, and try to clear it up for everybody, to let them know that I wasn’t trying to say that they were physically hitting us. That’s all that I was trying to do with the text message that I sent to Mr. Moos.”
Wilson’s allegations led to an investigation by the school and the Pacific-12 Conference. Both probes cleared Leach and his coaching staff of any instances of abuse.
Now, Wilson is attempting to pick up the pieces and rebuild his draft status this week at the NFL Scouting Combine.
Wilson will have to clearly explain his side of the story to NFL personnel executives and coaches who wonder about his toughness, honesty and ability to handle adversity.
“Looking back at it, I wouldn’t change my mind,” he said. “I stuck with it, and I’ll still stick with it if I ever had to go back. So that’s just the way I feel.”
And what is he telling NFL coaches and personnel executives about the incident?
“I’m just going to tell the truth, and hopefully they can see it through me, and see my character through that,” Wilson said.
Wilson said he has had informal conversations with Dallas, Miami, the New York Giants and Buffalo in his first few days at the combine.
He measured in at 6-foot-2 and weighed 194 pounds, and says he hopes to answer questions about his speed by running the 40-yard dash in the in the low 4.4 seconds range.
There’s no arguing that Wilson has the physical ability to play in the NFL. He set Washington State’s single-season receptions record in 2011 with 82 catches for 1,388 yards and 12 touchdowns.
“Just being able to run down the ball and tracking it in the air and getting it at its high point” Wilson said, when asked what he feels like he does well.
Wilson will not participate in Washington State’s pro day, and instead will compete in Eastern Washington’s pro day March 6.
After being considered a possible first-round selection just six months ago, Wilson is now ranked as 26th best receiver in this year’s draft by NFLdraftscout.com, and projected as a sixth-to-seventh-round pick.
But if he performs and handles his interviews well, Wilson believes he can repair his draft status.
“It’s crazy,” he said. “It’s a lot of work, but I mean it will be worth it in the long run. You just deal with it and man up, and you have to go along with everything and perfect it.
“I’ve gone through harder stuff,” said Wilson. “This isn’t the hardest thing I’ve had to go through.”
EWU WR SET TO SHINE
Another receiver with questions to answer is Eastern Washington University product Brandon Kaufman. It’s rare to see athletes from Football Championship Subdivision schools (formerly Division I-AA) declare early for the draft, but that’s the decision Kaufman made after his junior season.
A two-time All-American for the Eagles, Kaufman looks to follow in the footsteps of former teammate Taiwan Jones, a running back who was drafted in the fourth round by Oakland in 2011 after leaving school early.
In 42 games over four seasons at EWU, Kaufman caught 221 passes for 3,731 yards and 33 touchdowns.
Kaufman measured in at 6-5 and 216 pounds, and hopes to address questions about his speed by running in the low 4.5s this week.
“It’s huge,” said Kaufman about the opportunity to compete at the combine. “We get down in this gear, and we’re all wearing the exact same thing. It doesn’t say Miami. It doesn’t say Florida State. It doesn’t say Ohio State on anything. It doesn’t say Eastern Washington on anything.
“We’re all athletes. We’re all doing the same thing. And I feel like now is the time to prove that I’m equally as good, if not better than a lot of these guys.”
Seahawks team physician Dr. Stan Herring wants to get the word out about concussions.
Herring is a member of the NFL’s Head, Neck & Spine Committee, and participated in a demonstration of the league’s sideline concussion protocol Friday in an effort to raise more awareness about concussion issues in all levels of sports.
Herring also was an advocate of the Lystedt Law, a concussion law adopted by Washington state in 2009 that requires the removal of any student athlete suspected of having a concussion from a practice or a game, and prohibits them from returning to action until they are given medical authorization.
“What I hope that this does, is across all sports, boys and girls, raises awareness that concussions are a brain injury,” Herring said. “They’re all potentially serious. And that attribution of bravery associated with this injury can be tragically misdirected. And that what we really want to do is help all providers approach this in an organized fashion, understanding that the diagnosis is challenging.”Eric D. Williams: 253-597-8437 eric.williams @thenewstribune.com blog.thenewstribune.com/seahawks @eric_d_williams