Former Cougar standout Gabe Marks was opinionated as ever Friday in addressing some of the concerns he has heard about his game.
One of the most prolific offensive players in the history of the Pac-12 Conference, former Washington State University receiver Gabe Marks was largely left playing defense when he met the media at the NFL Combine Friday.
And as he fended off questions about whether he benefitted from playing in a pass-friendly offense and a criticism that he dropped a few too many balls along the way, Marks did so in a style befitting a Washington Post headline that a few months ago declared that he “might be the most interesting guy in college football.’’
“It’s not quirky, man,’’ Marks shot back to a question that used that word to describe WSU’s offense. “There is nothing quirky about the offense. We just throw the ball a lot. But everyone throws the ball. We run the same routes as everybody. We’re not running like ‘okay, run to the flag pole over there and then turn around at the car and I’ll throw it to you.’’’
Marks, who set the all-time Pac-12 record for most career receptions with 316, continued.
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“Guys are trying to call us ‘system receivers’ like that’s a thing,’’ Marks said. “It’s not a thing. You’ve still got to do it. It doesn’t matter the system that you are in. You’ve still got to catch the ball. Somebody has to catch the ball and score the touchdowns. If you just put some guy out there that couldn’t play, it wouldn’t work. I just get an opportunity to catch more passes — I can understand that. But I’m still getting open. So the whole ‘system receiver’ thing kind of bothers me a little bit.’’
It’s something he’s probably going to have to live with through the draft process, though, as scouts will try to figure out how well his lofty numbers might translate into NFL success.
Mark is also facing questions about his size (6-foot, 190) and top-end speed and has also noticed that a few scouting reports have questioned his hands, such as this line from NFL.com that he “has unusual ball security issues after the catch.’’
“I hear a lot of things about like I drop a lot of balls and stuff and it’s like ‘I can’t count that many (that he dropped),’’ he said. “I don’t know where these things come from that I drop a lot of passes. That’s like the ultimate thing for receivers and it’s like ‘what do you mean?’ My hands are a really important deal to me, you know? So when I hear somebody say that my hands suck it’s like ‘you suck. What are you saying?’’’
As for his speed, Marks knows that a good time could help ease some of the other concerns about his game even if he also seems to think it’s not that big of a deal.
“I’m just trying to be respectable out here with my times,’’ he said. “This isn’t really my forte — it’s not how I make my money. I play football and when we get on the field I usually can get it going or whatever, so I don’t know.’’
Pressed on what he hopes to run Saturday, Marks said “a low 4.5 would be a solid time. If I can somehow muster up the adrenaline to sneak into the 4.4’s that would be like ‘I’m never running again.’ Be like ‘I’m just going to stop running and go home and not play football and just going to go run track now.’’’
Marks also called the questions he hears as par for the course considering the path he has taken to get to the Combine.
He landed at WSU in part because schools such as Oregon wanted him to play cornerback and not his preferred receiver and he then redshirted his second year with the Cougars after having been arrested for assault (pleading guilty to a fourth-degree assault charge) and battling an infection that caused him to miss spring ball.
“That’s been my whole thing,’’ he said. “I’ve just been one of those guys whose got to do it the hard way with everything. I did it in college, went to Washington State. It worked out. So now if it comes to that I don’t get any decent love from any team then wherever I go I guess I’ll have to do it again. …
“I’m at the Combine, one of the best senior players in the country, I had a really good career, Washington State fans like me, you know what I mean? I’ve just got to make another team like me now. ‘’