Simmons has been in Pullman for less than two months but he already sees the potential.
“The cupboard wasn’t bare by no means with me coming here,” Simmons quipped. “Everyone obviously knows about Marquess and what he can do but I’ve been really impressed throughout the midnight maneuvers with Kristoff Williams and Dominique Williams. It will be interesting to see what both of them can do.”
Kristoff Williams fought through injuries at times in 2011, catching only nine balls for 134 yards and two touchdowns. The former prep quarterback also had a throwing TD in the 30-27 OT loss to Utah in Week 12.
“I think Kristoff’s experience was in a very limited role, but it will be interesting to see what he can with the opportunity to step up and play,” said Simmons
SIMMONS OFFERED SIMILAR high praise for Dominique Williams, who redshirted in 2011. Williams is a tall, explosive target who turned heads on the scout team last year, consistently turning in highlight reel types of plays during the practice week.
Isiah Myers is another receiver Simmons mentioned that impressed him during the Midnight Maneuvers. Myers spent his true freshmen season primarily as a backup and on special teams, with seven catches for 76 yards in his first year.
As for the Cougs’ receiving headliner, Wilson wasn’t able to participate in the Midnight Maneuvers because of what Simmons referred to as an “owie.” Wilson is still nursing the unknown injury but Simmons said the Cougs’ leading wide receiver will be ready to go March 22 for the start of spring ball.
“We really don’t talk about (injuries) so I really won’t go into specifics on what it was,” Simmons said on Wilson’s injury. “You can say we put a band-aid on him and he’s feeling fine.”
Although Simmons hasn’t been exposed to Wilson’s athleticism in person yet, his off field study habits have impressed.
“Marquess is a great kid,” Simmons said. “Every time we’ve met and there’s been a film study, he’s been a very intelligent football player. (He’s) been inquisitive and asked questions. I know the fire is in there as well as the desire to want to be good.”
Simmons said he's made it clear to the receiving corps the importance of consistent, high level effort.
“They all understand that we don’t have any starters… and we live by the Janet Jackson code, ‘What have you done for me lately’,” Simmons said. “We’re all going to come in here work hard and the best four will play, the best two you’ll write about and people will read about a lot.”
SOME FANS HAVE visions of 50-point nights and record breaking yardage totals for Cougar QBs and WRs with Mike Leach’s Air Raid offense being installed. Simmons said it’s not that simple.
“It’s not a magical offense,” Simmons said. “This is what we’re going to do but at the end of the day the players are going to have to execute it. At the end of the day it needs to be Washington State’s offense. Its’ got to be Marquess’s offense, it has to be Kristoff’s offense, it has to be Dominique’s offense or whoever is out there… That’s what’s going to make the magic happen.”
And as much as is riding on this season for the Cougs, Simmons also takes a view of the big picture.
“I think our goal as a staff here is to make sure that this excitement is still here at this time next year,” Simmons said. “That means we’ve won some games, we went to a bowl game and all the things they’ve read about are starting to become a reality.”
The Cougars signed four WRs for the 2012 class -- Robert Lewis, Gabriel Marks, Alex Jackson, and Brett Bartolone. Lewis is projected as more of a slot receiver, but the others are high school talents who made big plays on the outside.
“I’m excited about all of those guys coming in here,” Simmons said. “From an athletic standpoint, they can all come in right now and contribute. At the same time it depends on how well they manage the adjustment from being away from home and adjust to the speed of the game. Ideally, we want to get those guys in here around the 18th of June, right after they graduate, and speed up that learning curve.”
Simmons came to WSU after spending the last two seasons at East Carolina. He was Leach’s WRs coach at Texas Tech during the 2008-09 seasons, and worked with such stars including San Francisco 49ers wide-out Michael Crabtree.