WSU receiver Marquess Wilson has taken a huge step. He's now the guy opposing defenses have to account for in their game plan.

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PULLMAN — Marquess Wilson had a pretty decent freshman year.

The Washington State wide receiver from Tulare, Calif., burst on the scene with a 48-yard touchdown pass from Jeff Tuel in last season’s opener against Oklahoma State. He had more than 100 yards receiving in five of his first eight games and was a consensus freshman All-American.

He finished with 55 catches for 1,006 yards — most ever for a WSU freshman — and six touchdowns. But it was only a prelude to what’s happening in his sophomore year.

In three games Wilson has caught 15 passes. One covered 80 yards, another 78. His 429 receiving yards leads the nation. So does his 28.6 yards per catch, for players with at least 15 receptions.

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Wilson has taken a huge step. He’s now the guy opposing defenses have to account for in their game plan.

Come Saturday, before some 50,000 people in Colorado’s Folsom Field, the Buffaloes will make it their priority to know where No. 86 is.

“He’s real explosive,” Colorado coach Jon Embree said. “He’ll take a screen pass and go the distance or he’ll run by you.

“He’s a guy you’ve got to tackle. He’s a guy you have to be aware of where he’s lined up at.”

So what has propelled Wilson to this level? Ask him and the 6-foot-4, 183-pounder will quietly talk about working harder in practice, focusing on execution, blocking with a purpose. But those are all by-products of learning from his failures.

“I realized what I didn’t do last year, and how that really hurt the team a lot,” Wilson said.

Blocking was part of it. Being pushed off routes another. Things that had their roots in not being strong enough.

“He’s a better overall player,” quarterback Marshall Lobbestael said. “He’s got a year in the weight room, working out with (strength coach Darin) Lovat. And he’s got a year of experience, too.”

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