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Tuesday, August 18, 2009
Markus Wheaton is going to play for Oregon State

By ESPN.com staff
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller

CORVALLIS, Ore. -- Markus Wheaton seems a bit impatient. He's just been asked for the 3,657th time about his cousin Kenny Wheaton, an Oregon legend best known for his 97-yard interception return against Washington in 1994. 

The funny thing to the reporter is that Markus Wheaton is a freshman receiver for -- wait for it -- Oregon State!

Ha!

Markus Wheaton didn't supply the "Ha!"

"It didn't have anything to do with Kenny at all," Wheaton said. "I was going to go to Oregon but a couple of their coaches got let go, the ones who were recruiting me."

It's not that Wheaton isn't in the mood for a redundant interview topic. It's that he can hear something calling his name.

His playbook.

See, with Darrell Catchings out for the year with a hand injury, Wheaton's strong first days of camp have pushed him up the depth chart and made him the first option to step into the starting lineup at split end.

Only he's got to learn the Beavers offense. Quickly.

"When I'm not out here, I'm on my playbook," Wheaton said. "I'm going to go in right now, watch some film and look at the plays. Go to dinner. Look at the plays. Go home. Look at the plays. That's all I do now until I get it down."

Wheaton, who hails from Oakland, says the game is faster in college, but it's the plays that are giving him trouble.

The physical side hasn't stumped him yet. While he carries just 167 pounds on his 6-foot frame, Wheaton's speed and agility both before and after he gets the ball in his hands make him look like he belongs athletically.

"He just floats. He's a very smooth athlete. He's very gifted," coach Mike Riley said. "Now it's just a matter of putting all those gifts into our offense."

Which means Wheaton has to learn the plays.

"It's rough trying to learn plays," he said.

The plays are the thing.

When asked if he's nervous about running onto the field with the offense on Sept. 5 vs. Portland State, Wheaton shakes his head.

"I'm not thinking about that now," he said. "I'm just trying to learn the plays."