Steelers 2013 Third Round Draft Pick – Oregon State WR Markus Wheaton

The Pittsburgh Steelers have selected Oregon State wide receiver Markus Wheaton with their third round pick of the 2013 NFL draft.

Todd Haley press conference audio:

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MARKUS WHEATON
Wide Receiver
Oregon State University Beavers
#2
5:11.0-182
Chandler, Arizona
Chandler High School
Mountain Pointe High School

OVERVIEW
A challenge that was accepted by Wheaton and cornerback Jordan Poyer prior to the 2012 season thrust the Beavers into the national title picture, as they approached the midway point to their regular season schedule undefeated, but an upset loss to Washington saw OSU produce a 3-4 mark during the second half to finish with a still impressive 9-4 record.
That would send the seniors “packing” with their first winning campaign, erasing the “bad taste” of a 5-7 mark in 2010 and a 3-9 finish to the 2011 campaign.

After two losing seasons, it looked like OSU was missing a key ingredient to success – leadership. Both Wheaton and Poyer stepped up and more than capably filled that void.
The receiver proved that without question, he is the finest athlete among the pass catchers in the Pac-12 Conference – a strong statement, considering projected early round draft picks Keenan Allen of California and Robert Woods of Southern California also reside in the league.

Yet, Oregon State’s main deep threat had to perform with defenses constantly placing more than one opponent on him, knowing that while he may not score in bunches, he is still a threat as a “table-setter” any time he touches the ball. Wheaton would go on to set the school season (91 receptions) and career (227 catches) records in 2012, as he also ranked second in the conference with an average of 7.00 receptions and third with an average of 95.69 receiving yards per game.

Until his senior campaign, and despite his blazing speed and incredible ability to avoid defenders in the open field, the Oregon State staff rarely “called his number” when it came to producing big plays in the red zone. This saw the split end record the tenth-best pass catching season in school history with 73 receptions as a junior, but he found his way into the end zone just one time and was limited to three catches inside the red zone in 2011.

With his verified 4.36 speed and 136 receptions through his first thirty-six games at Oregon State, Wheaton could have opted to leave the university and enter the 2012 NFL Draft, but he was determined to eliminate the “losing atmosphere” that had hovered over the program during his sophomore and junior campaigns. His stellar 2012 performance helped the receiver place eighth in Pac-12 Conference history with his 227 catches, a mark that also ranks tied for eighth in the nation among active NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision performers.

With James and Jacquizz Rodgers no longer around to carry the “banner” for the OSU offense, it was time for Wheaton to step forward in 2012. He served as one of four team captains for his senior season, as the split end took on the challenge and more than capably filled the leadership void. “I felt like without Quizz or James to carry our team, I had to take that on,” Wheaton said. “I feel like it was my senior year and I had to be a leader. I had to put a lot of pressure on my back.”

Wheaton not only put a lot of pressure on his back, he worked diligently throughout the 2012 off-season to bulk up and add needed strength to his lanky frame. Blessed with the speed and second gear to elude any defensive back that dares to challenge him on deep routes, he knew that he had to be more successful in escaping the jam and getting into his route in order to succeed as the team’s primary target.

Being the only deep threat and go-to guy was difficult in the past. The opposition knew it and double-teamed him constantly. It was a physical battle just to get off the line, let along going into the air to grab a ball. “The biggest thing was the physical part of it, to add muscle on that frame to take the pounding,” receivers coach Brent Brennan said. “Because he’s so athletic, he makes a lot of plays up in the air. And we are demanding of him blocking and being physical.”

Wheaton bulked up in this offseason from 178 pounds in 2011 to 182 entering 2012 fall camp, and didn’t even go home in the summer for a time like usual. He also created a sorely needed connection with quarterback Sean Mannion, who was thrust into the starting role just prior to the 2011 season opener, leaving little time for the duo to form much of a relationship last year.

“You can see it when you look at him,” Brennan said of Wheaton’s dedication. “His body has changed. He added some good muscle to him. It started in the spring where he was super competitive. He wanted to win every play.” Combine the desire to reach the next level individually and as a team with the leadership void, and Wheaton was ready to reach his potential.

And the professional scouts noticed the marked improvement in his playing production and confidence level. “Our expectations are high, but there’s nobody who worked harder in the offseason than Markus Wheaton,” Oregon head coach Mike Riley said prior to the 2012 campaign. “Physically, he continued to grow and change himself. He looks great, is running well and caught a million balls from Sean in the summer. He’s an example of the work ethic of this team. He’s truly leading this team. He’s primed for a great year.”

That “great year” saw the Beavers win their first six games to begin the 2012 season. OSU, which began playing college football in 1893, has had only one other campaign where they won their first six games, happening in 1907. The 1933 squad went undefeated through their first seven contests, but two of those games ended with ties.

Wheaton, who has been a longtime contributor since his freshman season, whether as a pass catcher, or carrying the ball out of the backfield, has been the primary reason for the offense’s success. He utilized his speed as a deep threat and an occasional ball carrier and kickoff returner to rise through the “draft ranks” to be considered one of the elite pass catchers eligible for the 2013 draft event.

Wheaton further cemented his status with the cream of the crop at the receiver position with impressive, and in some instances, eye-opening performances in practices leading up to the 2013 Senior Bowl. Looking to make up for a “pedestrian showing” vs. Texas in a 31-27 loss at the Alamo Bowl, where he was held to a season-low three catches for 37 yards, the split end was being compared to the Pittsburgh Steelers’ speedy Mike Wallace by professional scouts and coaches in attendance down in Mobile.

Wheaton frustrated any defensive back that tried to cover him throughout the North squad’s practices leading up to the all-star game. He was much more patient running his patterns in Mobile, as one of his past flaws was running too fast, at times, which caused him to have to adjust and come back for the ball.

The senior also demonstrated excellent field vision, drawing “oohs-&-aahs” from the crowd during one practice, after he somehow managed to come up with an over-the-shoulder catch, followed by another pass play where he made a quick adjustment with his body to get to an underthrown ball. Throughout the week, he also demonstrated that while he might only be 182 pounds, he was quite effective at hurling his body around and stalking second-level defenders while blocking for his running backs.

Wheaton found the end zone a career-high eleven times with his receptions in 2012, and also continued to “set the table” for the rest of the offense, as he came up with crucial receptions that led to nineteen other OSU touchdown drives and on three possessions that resulted in field goals. On the ground, seven of his twenty carries have paved the way for more OSU touch-down opportunities, chipping in while scoring twice on reverse.

In addition to his success on the gridiron, Wheaton has also excelled for the OSU men’s track & field team. Even though he was attending football spring camps, he posted a 22.36-second timing in the 200 meters at the 2010 Pac-10 Conference Championships with minimal training. At the University of Washington “Last Chance” Indoor qualifying event, he was clocked at 6.82 in the 60-meter dash.

In 2011, Wheaton ran a 6.86 60-meter dash for the indoor team at the UW Finals and 6.96 in the same event at the Husky Classic. For the 2011 outdoor squad, he was timed at 10.75 in the 100 meters to finish in Oregon\’s Twilight meet. Back on the track field for the 2012 indoor schedule, he ran 7.01 in the 60 meters at the UW Invitational, followed by a 10.58 showing in the 100 meters at the Oregon Twilight. He also ran the second leg on OSU’s 4×100 relay team that registered 41.78 at the 2012 Oregon Preview.

Prior to his arrival on the Oregon State campus, Wheaton played football alongside his brother, Marquese, for the Mount Pointe High School Pride squad. As a 144-pound wide receiver and defensive back, he made twelve catches for 286 yards (23.83 ypc) and three scores. He also blocked a field goal and recorded eighteen tackles to earn All-Region honors.

In 2007, Wheaton arrived back at Mountain Pointe High School, checking in at 155 pounds. The team struggled to a 4-6 record under head coach Phil Abbadaessa, but the two-way player paced the Pride with 315 yards with four touchdowns on 43 carries (7.33 ypc), as he also caught 23 passes for 476 yards (20.70 ypc) with six scores and averaged 23.69 yards on thirteen kickoff returns. The All-Region and All-Class 5A Central League selection also posted 49 tackles (21 solos) with an interception, returning a blocked punt 10 yards and a fumble recovery 24 yards.

As a senior, Wheaton transferred to Chandler High School. Under the guidance of Wolves head coach Jim Ewan, the team ranked 14th in the state of Arizona with an 8-4 record in 2008. The All-Fiesta League and All-Division V choice recorded fifteen tackles with three pass deflections. He averaged 10.22 yards on nine punt returns and 27.0 yards on ten kickoff returns. He toted the ball 29 times for 304 yards (10.48 ypc) with two touchdowns on the ground, adding four more scores behind 37 grabs for 736 yards (19.89 ypc).

Rated the state of Arizona’s sixth-best athlete by Super Prep, Wheaton was listed as the nation’s 41st-best player by Rivals.com, as that recruiting service joined Scout.com in awarding the youngster three-star prospect status. With his brother enrolling at Southern Mississippi as a defensive back, and with an uncle, Kenny Wheaton, a standout corner-back during his playing days at the University of Oregon (1994-97), “family ties” did not sway Markus when it came to choosing a university from his scholarship offers.

Wheaton enrolled at Oregon State University in 2009 and saw extensive action as a true freshman. Asked why he chose OSU, Wheaton simply replied, “it\’s hard to explain but it just felt right at Oregon State. Like you get that special feeling about a school and that\’s what it was for me at Oregon State.”

What the Beavers coaches found out in fall camp was that Wheaton was by far the fastest player on the squad. They had originally planned to red-shirt him, but he would go on to appear in twelve games. “I\’m quick and have great speed. I also have pretty good hands and just get out there and do whatever I need to do,” the freshman stated in 2009. “I\’m trying to get a little bigger and get off the line better. I need to be more physical when fighting for the ball.”

Wheaton caught eight passes for 89 yards (11.13 ypc) and scored once on eleven carries while totaling 79 yards on the ground (7.18 ypc) in 2009 as a reserve flanker, but did earn his first career start at split end vs. California. As a sophomore, he again played in twelve games, starting eight contests at split end. He finished with a strong second half, catching 38 of his 55 receptions in the final six games, as he collected 675 yards (12.27 ypc) with four touchdowns.

Even though he had just 27 carries, Wheaton was second on the squad with 220 yards (8.15 ypc) and two scores, setting up a touchdown drive with a 52-yard punt return, as he also gained 81 yards on four kickoff returns. Forty of his receptions produced first downs, as he had key grabs during sixteen touchdown drives while also attaining field position for the Beavers during six possessions that ended with field goals.

As a junior, Wheaton was named to the Biletnikoff Award Watch List, an award given annually to the nation’s top receiver. The All-Pac 12 Conference honorable mention led the Beavers with a career-high 73 receptions for 986 yards (13.51 ypc) and a score, adding 190 yards on 25 carries (7.60 ypc). He amassed a team-best 1,176 all-purpose yards and came up with 58 first-down catches, converting 22 third-down tosses.

An All-American and All-Pac 12 Conference selection, Wheaton was again named a member of the Biletnikoff Award Watch List in 2012. He finished the season with a school season-record 91 receptions, as his 1,244 receiving yards rank sixth on the OSU annual record chart ands his eleven touchdowns are the second-highest total by a Beavers player in a campaign. He showed excellent tackle-breaking ability for a player of his size, picking up 473 of his aerial yardage after the catch.

Wheaton also proved dangerous carrying the ball, scoring two more times while rushing for 142 yards on 20 carries (7.10 ypc) to finish with 1,402 all-purpose yards. He closed out his career with a streak of at least one reception in 36 consecutive games, the longest mark for any Pac-12 performer.

CAREER NOTES
Wheaton appeared in 49 games for Oregon State, starting 30 consecutive contests at split end…Hauled in a school all-time record 227 passes, ranking third on the career chart with 2,994 yards receiving and sixth with sixteen touchdown receptions…Added 631 yards with five scores on 83 carries (7.60 ypc), 68 yards on three punt returns (22.67 avg) and 81 yards on four kickoff returns (20.25 avg)…Scored 126 points as he recorded two solo tackles with a fumble recovery, also tallying 3,774 all-purpose yards on 346 touches, an average of 77.02 yards per game and 10.91 yards per play…His 227 grabs rank eighth in Pac-12 Conference history and topped the previous school mark of 222 by James Rodgers (2007-11), joining Mike Hass (220; 2002-05) and James Newson (213; 2000-03) as the school’s only 200-catch performers…His 2,994 yards receiving is the third-best career total by a Beavers performer, surpassed by Mike Hass (3,924 yards) and James Newson (3,572)…Gained at least 100 yards receiving eleven times, tying Sammie Stroughter (2004-08) for third in OSU history behind Mike Hass (19) and James Newson (16)…His sixteen touchdown receptions rank sixth on the school career-record list…His 73 catches as a junior rank tenth on the OSU season-record chart, as his 91 grabs as a senior tied the school mark first set by James Rodgers in 2009…Wheaton’s 986 receiving yards in 2011 placed eleventh on the school annual record chart, and his 1,244 yards in 2012 placed sixth on that list…Wheaton is one of only ten players in school history to record at least ten receptions in a game more than once, and one of three with at least four contests that reached the “century” mark (ten vs. Oregon in 2010, eleven vs. Arizona State in 2011, ten vs. Arizona and twelve vs. Nicholls State in 2012).

2012 SEASON
Wheaton received All-American second-team accolades from The NFL Draft Report, in addition to being named third-team by CBS Sports and honorable mention by Sports Illustrated…The team captain and Biletnikoff Award candidate added first-team All-Pac 12 Conference recognition, as the split end started all thirteen games, extending his starting string to 30 consecutive contests…Along the way, he also extended his streak to 36 consecutive games with at least one catch, the longest by any active player in the Pac-12…The senior went on to set a school season-record with 91 receptions, tying Dwayne Jarrett of Southern California (2005) for ninth on the conference season-record chart and breaking the previous school annual mark of 90 catches by Mike Hass in 2005…His 1,244 receiving yards placed sixth on the OSU season-record list and 27th in league annals…His eleven touchdown catches are one shy of the school season-record of twelve, set by James Newsom in 2002…Scored two more times on twenty carries for 142 yards (7.10 ypc), finishing with 78 points…Added two solo tackles while also recovering a fumble…
Paced the Beavers with 1,402 all-purpose yards…Ranked second in the conference with 7.00 receptions per game, third with an average of 95.69 yards and tenth with 107.85 all-purpose yards per game…Generated 473 of his 1,222 aerial yards after the catch…Had at least 100 yards receiving in five contests, tying Sammie Stroughter (2006) for fifth on the OSU annual record list…Had at least seven receptions in nine contests, including in each of his first four contests, as he pulled down at least ten balls twice…Scored at least one touchdown in eight games, producing three multiple-touchdown performances…Wheaton made eight catches for 87 yards and recovered his own fumble, as OSU prevailed in a 10-7 decision over Wisconsin in the season opener…In the UCLA clash, he generated 150 yards on nine receptions that included a touchdown, adding 10 yards on a fly sweep. It marked the 25th consecutive game that Wheaton caught at least one pass and his 150-yard effort marked the seventh time he had gained over 100 yards receiving in a game, matching Robb Thomas (1985-88) and James Rodgers (2007-11) for fifth all-time in Oregon State annals…Wheaton finished the Arizona game with a career-high 166 yards on ten receptions in a 38-35 win. His 166 yards topped his previous career-high of 150 receiving yards that he established the previous week vs. UCLA…With starting quarterback Sean Mannion sidelined vs. Brigham Young, Wheaton quickly established a “connection” with back-up QB Cody Vaz, who hadn\’t taken a snap since 2010, or started a game since he was in high school. The split end scored twice while snatching five balls for 66 yards, adding another touchdown on a reverse to stake the Beavers to a 42-24 triumph…The senior scored twice on four receptions for 108 yards vs. Arizona State, marking the third game that Whaton produced multiple scores as a receiver during 2012. He also added 57 yards on three carries vs. the Sun Devils…Followed with eight grabs for 100 yards and a score vs. Stanford…Scored via a reception and on an end-around carry, posting his fifth 100-yard receiving effort for the year, as he amassed 123 yards behind a career-high twelve receptions vs. Nicholls State. The only Beavers to ever catch more passes in a game were
Mike Hass (14 vs. Arizona State in 2004), Shane Morales (13 vs. Stanford in 2008) and Jacquizz Rodgers (13 vs. Arizona in 2009).

2011 SEASON
A member of the Biletnikoff Award Watch List (given to the nation’s top receiver), Wheaton received All-Pac 12 Conference honorable mention, as his 73 receptions not only led the team and rank ninth on the school season-record list, but his average of 6.08 catches per game ranked fifth in the league…Had 120 passes targeted to him (caught 60.83%), good for 986 yards (13.51 ypc), the tenth-best receiving yardage total in OSU annals…Saw the opposition deflect nineteen of the balls targeted to him (15.83%)…Only one of his catches found the end zone, but he came up with crucial receptions that led to fourteen Oregon State touchdowns and during seven other possessions that produced field goals…Had 58 first-down snatches (79.45%), as he converted 22 third-down throws and another on a fourth-down play…Gained at least ten yards with 47 of his receptions (64.38%) that included twelve grabs for 20 yards or longer…Was tackled once for a loss and twice for no gain after the catch…Gained at least 100 yards receiving four times – vs. Sacramento State, Arizona State, Brigham Young and Washington, as he grabbed a season-high eleven balls in the Arizona State clash…Finished fourth on the team with 25 carries for 190 yards (7.60 ypc), as eleven of his attempts resulted in first downs, seven of his carries gained at least ten yards, with two for longer than 20 yards…Had key reverses that led to five Oregon State touchdowns and two more on series that ended with field goals, but was tackled for a loss five times and twice stopped for no gain while fumbling the ball once as a ball carrier…Wheaton opened the season by recording the first of four 100-yard receiving performances for the 2011 campaign, despite seeing the coaching staff switch starting quarterbacks just prior to this game, leaving little time for Sean Mannion to establish chemistry with his receivers. His six grabs for 108 yards helped ease Mannion into the lineup, but the Beavers were upset by the Football Championship Sub-division opponent, 29-28…For the second time during his college career, Wheaton registered at least ten receptions (eleven) in a game, snaring eleven balls for 116 yards vs. Arizona State. For the fourth time during his time with OSU, he gained at least 100 yards receiving (116) in a contest, and his total would have been much higher if an Oregon State penalty did not wipe out a 34-yard catch by the split end in the third quarter…The receiver had his
fifth 100-yard receiving performance for his career vs. Brigham Young, as he tallied 104 yards on eight catches. His fifth 100-yard receiving game as a Beaver broke his tie with Imani Percoats (1999) to take over sole possession of ninth place on the school career-record chart…In a 38-21 triumph over Washington on Senior Day, Wheaton sent the upper classmen home with a victory, as he not only led the team with seven receptions for 125 yards, but also paced the Beavers with 66 yards rushing on just three attempts in a 38-21 triumph. His sixth 100-yard receiving performance tied at OSU tied Robert Prescott (1997-2000) for seventh on the school all-time record list. It was also his fourth 100-yard aerial game for 2011, good for sixth on the OSU season-record chart.

2010 SEASON
Wheaton appeared in all twelve games, starting eight contests at split end (came off the bench vs. Louisville, Boise State, Arizona and Washington)…Led the team and tied for seventh in the Pac-10 Conference with 55 receptions on 90 passes targeted to him (61.11%), as the opposition deflected eleven of those throws and he dropped another…
Ranked ninth in the league while leading the Beavers with 675 receiving yards (12.27 ypc), as 35 of his grab s (63.64%) gained at least ten yards, including eight for 20 yards or longer…Produced 40 first downs (72.73%), as he converted sixteen third-down grabs and made five of his catches inside the red zone…Scored four times for the passing game, as he also had key receptions to set up sixteen touchdown drives and on six possessions that led to field goals…Used mostly on fly sweeps, Wheaton still managed to finish second on the team with 220 yards on 27 carries (8.15 ypc), as he scored twice on the ground and had key reverses that led to eight OSU touchdown drives and three field goals…Produced eleven first-down runs, with nine gaining at least ten yards and four going for at least 20 yards…Twice tackled for losses and twice stopped for no gain as a ball carrier…Set up another touchdown drive with a 52-yard punt return vs. Arizona State and briefly served as a kickoff returner vs. ASU and Arizona, totaling 81 yards on four runbacks (20.25 avg)… The sophomore finished third on the team with 1,028 all-purpose yards, an average of 85.67 yards per game and 11.82 yards per attempt.

2009 SEASON
As a true freshman, Wheaton appeared in twelve games, seeing action mostly as a flanker behind James Rodgers, but did start the California clash as a split end…Did not appear in the Beavers’ second game on the schedule vs. Nevada-Las Vegas, as he collected eight receptions for 89 yards (11.13 ypc), tallying four first downs while converting a pair of third-down throws…Four of his grabs gained at least ten yards, including two for 20 yards or longer…Had timely receptions that led to one OSU touchdown and three field goals… Carried eleven times for 79 yards (7.18 ypc) and one touchdown, as he posted four first-down runs that led to a quartet of Beavers touchdown drives…Recovered his own fumble and was tackled once for a loss and another time for no gain as a ball carrier.

TRACK
In addition to his success on the gridiron, Wheaton also competed in both the indoor and outdoor track seasons for the Beavers…Competed mostly in the sprints, but was also a member of the OSU 4×100 relay team…2010 Indoor Season…Wheaton ran a season-best 6.82 in the 60-meter dash on March 6th to finish second at the UW “Last Chance” Qualifying Meet finals, having produced a 6.96 for first place during the prelims…2010 Outdoor Season…At the Pac-10 Conference Championships (May 16th), the Beaver was entered in the 200-meter prelims (22.36)…2011 Indoor Season…At the University of Washington Qualifier, Wheaton won the 60-meter dash prelims with a 6.91 time and then finished third in the finals with a season-best 6.86 (March 5th)…At the UW Open Meet, he ran 6.97 (second place on February 13th) and the day earlier, he also captured the Husky Classic (2/12) with a final time of 6.96 in the 60 meters…2011 Outdoor Season…Wheaton placed second in the 100 meters at the Oregon Twilight (May 6th) with a 10.75 time, but finished out of the money with an 11.7 showing in that event at the Pac-10 Championships (May 14th)…2012 Indoor Season…On January 28th, at the UW Invitational, Wheaton was fourth in the 60-meter dash (7.01)…2012 Outdoor Season…As a member of the OSU 4×100 relay team, along with Malcolm Marble, Brandin Cooks and Keynan Parker, Wheaton ran the second leg as that team finished second in the event (March 18th) at the Oregon Preview with a time of 41.78…At the Oregon Twilight, he finished second in the 100 meters finals, posting a 10.58 mark…At the Pac-12 Championships in May, he placed fourth in the 100 meters (10.72), while the 4×100 relay team won the event with a 41.71 time (also won the prelims at 40.84).

INJURY REPORT
No major injured reported.

AGILITY TESTS
4.36 in the 40-yard dash…1.47 10-yard dash…2.53 20-yard dash…4.15 20-yard shuttle…
6.81 three-cone drill…39-inch vertical jump…10’1” broad jump…Bench pressed 225 pounds 15 times…385-pound squat…290-pound power clean…32 ¼-inch arm length…
8 ½-inch hands…76 ½-inch wingspan.

HIGH SCHOOL
As a senior, Wheaton transferred to Chandler (Az.) High School, playing football for Wolves head coach Jim Ewan, helping lead the team to an 8-4 record to finish ranked 13th in the state in 2008…Rated the state of Arizona’s sixth-best athlete by Super Prep, he was listed as the nation’s 41st-best player by Rivals.com, as that recruiting service joined Scout.com in awarding the youngster three-star prospect status…The All-Fiesta League and All-Division V choice recorded fifteen tackles with three pass deflections as a senior, as he also averaged 10.22 yards on nine punt returns and 27.0 yards on ten kickoff returns…Toted the ball 29 times for 304 yards (10.48 ypc) with two touchdowns on the ground, adding four more scores behind 37 grabs for 736 yards (19.89 ypc) in 2008…Some of his senior season highlights featured three receptions for 61 yards and a 38-yard score, two carries for 16 yards and a 16-yard punt return vs. Ironwood; a 10-yard touchdown catch with 33 yards on four runs and a 23-yard punt return vs. Dobson; 173 yards behind seven receptions and three carries for 25 yards, including a 17-yard score vs. Desert Vista and 115 yards with a 40-yard touchdown on four rushes, in addition to a 20-yard catch, two tackles and a pass break-up in a 56-0 rout of Yuma…Delivered seven tackles (5 solos) vs. Corona del Sol; two catches for 120 yards and a 68-yard touchdown while setting up another score with a 62-yard kickoff return vs. Mesquite, followed by two tackles, a pass deflection, three kickoffs for 63 yards and five grabs for 106 yards, including a 39-yard score…His senior season ended with seven receptions for 129 yards and 17 yards on three end-around carries vs. Hamilton…Before he enrolled at Chandler High School, Wheaton and his brother, Marquese, attended Mountain Pointe (Phoenix, AZ) High School, playing football as a sophomore and junior for Pride head coach Phil Abbadessa…As a 144-pound wide receiver and defensive back, he made twelve catches for 286 yards (23.83 ypc) and three scores in 2006. He also blocked a field goal and recorded eighteen tackles to earn All-Region honors…That year, some of his better performances came vs. Maryvale, where he caught a 41-yard pass for a touchdown. He had four receptions for 138 yards and a pair of touchdown in a 38-27 victory over Marcos de Niza…In 2007, Wheaton arrived back at Mountain Pointe checking in at 155 pounds. The team struggled to a 4-6 record, but the two-way player paced the Pride with 315 yards with four touchdowns on 43 carries (7.33 ypc), as he also caught 23 passes for 476 yards (20.70 ypc) with six scores and averaged 23.69 yards on thirteen kickoff returns. The All-Region and All-Class 5A Central League selection also posted 49 tackles (21 solos) with an interception, returning a blocked punt 10 yards and a fumble recovery 24 yards…Some of his junior highlights featured 95 yards and a score on eight carries, adding four tackles vs. Chavez; three grabs for 30 yards to go with seven tackles and an interception vs. Sunnyside; three runs for 38 yards and a 28-yard score vs. St. Mary’s; four catches for 80 yards, including a 28-yard touchdown as he also returned four kicks for 101 yards and posted four tackles vs. Horizon before he had six tackles, a fumble recovery he returned 24 yards, two kickoffs for 32 yards and three catches for 38 yards with a 26-yard score vs. Hamilton…Also carried 10 times for 70 yards and two touchdowns with a long of 29 yards while chipping in with five tackles vs. Cibola; adding three receptions for 100 yards and a 72-yard score, a 10-yard punt return, 13 yards on three carries and a trio of tackles vs. Mountain Ridge, followed by seven runs for 78 yards, seven tackles, three kickoff returns for 94 yards and two grabs for 23 yards vs. Corona del Sol…Closed out his 2007 season with four receptions for 126 yards and two touchdowns, including an 85-yarder vs. Basha before he produced nine tackles (6 solos) with a 51-yard score behind two catches for 58 yards vs. Desert Vista and then blocked a field goal try vs. Alhambra.

PERSONAL
Public Health major…Participated in the initial “Beavers Without Borders” trip during spring break of 2011, as he traveled to Guatemala to build a house for a needy family…
Son of Katrina and Odis Wheaton…Father played basketball for NAIA Division II Howard Payne University…Brother, Marquese, was a teammate of Markus at Mountaine Pointe High School. He went to Phoenix Community College, earning All-Arizona Community College Athletic Conference honors after recording 39 tackles with three interceptions in 2009. He transferred to Southern Mississippi for the 2010-11 seasons, earning All-Conference USA honors as a senior, when he produced a 41-yard interception return for a touchdown vs. Navy, recovered a fumble vs. Rice that he advanced 75 yards for a score and blocked a field goal that he returned 79 yards for a touchdown vs. Navy in 2011. That year, the field cornerback also sealed a win over Southern Methodist with a pair of fourth quarter interceptions. In 25 games spanning two seasons at USM, he recorded 73 tackles (47 solos) with 2.5 stops for loss, fourteen pass deflections and five interceptions…Their cousin is former University of Oregon standout defensive back, Kenny Wheaton (1994-96).
Kenny was selected in the third round of the 1997 NFL Draft by the Dallas Cowboys, playing for the pokes from 1997-99. In 2002, he played for the Detroit Fury in the Arena Football League before heading north to Canada, where he played for the Toronto Argonauts from 2003-08. Along with his brother Derrek, they attended McClintock High School, where they played varsity football, basketball, and baseball. Derrek went on to play college football at Phoenix College and received a football scholarship to attend the University of Oregon, but was killed on his way home from the Phoenix College football banquet, he was the random victim of a drive by shooting. The Arizona Junior High School Basketball Tournament honors Derrek\’s memory with the Derrek Wheaton MVP Award. At Oregon, Kenny was named the team’s outstanding player in 1996, adding All-Pac 10 Conference honors. In 1994, as a freshman, he led the Ducks with 73 tackles (96 solos) and four interceptions for 157 yards that included a 97-yard touchdown, the second-longest runback in school history. He is tied for the Oregon all-time record with three interception returns for touch-downs, adding five thefts for 128 yards and a 71-yard score in 1995 and two for 95 yards that included a 70-yard touchdown in 1996. His 350 yards via interception returns set the school career-record…Wheaton\’s cousin, Andre Bailey, also played football at McClintock High School and went on to play college football at Mesa Community College before attending the University of Texas-El Paso…Wheaton has also been a long-time member of the university’s “Beavers Without Bordors” group, which consists of current and former Oregon State student-athletes who have taken trips to Guatemala (Spring Break 2011), Macedonia (Summer 2011) and Ethiopia (summer 2012). On those trips the group assisted a building of a house for needy families. There were matching funds, but many of these student-athletes did their own fundraising for the trips…Born 2/07/91 in Phoenix, Arizona.

I am, I'm me. 40 something, retired and a life long Steelers fan.
  • Garrett Hunt

    Was hoping for Demontre Moore but we’ll see how this turns out.

  • Nolrog

    Blazing fast WR to replace Wallace. I like the focus on offense in the last 2 rounds; that should help a lot. Now for some depth at Safety and OL.

  • steeltown

    Nice pick

    Very underrated player, very quick, very dangerous receiver…and no major injuries

  • Nolrog

    Defensive End (or OLB, not sure how he projects) isn’t a position of need.

  • JT

    But, But, But….I wanted Baiiiiilllleeeeyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy.

  • steeltown

    Agreed. I like this kid….. now, Safety in the 4th, Pleassssse

  • PenguinsCup

    Finally one I agree with

  • hergieburbur

    Like the pick, but afraid the safeties will be gone.

  • Guest

    Why did we just draft Antonio Brown?

  • hergieburbur

    We have to if there are any left. After the Thomases, they turn into pretty big projects. Still some guys to look at, but nobody as good as them IMO.

  • JT

    I fear they may have to trade up. Not much left.

  • hergieburbur

    Why? He wouldn’t fit our needs.

  • hergieburbur

    Yeah, and we don’t have much to do it with.

  • steeltown

    Two Thomas’s and two Williams left, right?

  • hergieburbur

    I think so, yeah.

  • LouPGH

    A lot of safety talent left on the board, but that could change quickly. Like this pick, but definitely in the mold of A.B.

  • Garrett Hunt

    BPA

  • Crazy Bone

    Colbert finally lucks into one. Wheaton will be more productive than Bell or Jones next year.

  • steeltown

    ..and Rambo and Wilcox

  • hergieburbur

    We don’t pick the BPA with no concern for need.

  • hergieburbur

    Wilcox is gone. I don’t like Rambo for us for some reason.

  • hergieburbur

    Don’t bet on it. Odds are he won’t.

  • steeltown

    Right… Thomas, Thomas, Williams, Williams and Rambo

  • Garrett Hunt

    DE is a spot it would not hurt to have additional players at.

  • hergieburbur

    There are 4 guys like that I like, 2 that I really like.

  • steeltown

    Oh yea

  • rizzo29

    what a law firm

  • hergieburbur

    DE is way below WR, S, ILB, and TE, although the TE talent I wanted is all gone.

  • steeltown

    Ha!

  • LouPGH

    Right. No more Wilcox though. I was almost expecting one of the Thomas’. Those two and Shawn Williams: I’d be happy with any one of them.

  • hergieburbur

    My list remaining goes:
    P Thomas
    S Thomas
    D Williams
    S Williams
    Rambo

  • steeltown

    Yea I was hoping Shamarko here, but forgot that Wheaton was still out there

  • LouPGH

    Well, there goes Shawn Williams.

  • hergieburbur

    I think P Thomas fits our defense the best out of the non first rounders. But then, as I have said before, I am biased.

  • LouPGH

    Full disclosure: I am a Bengals scout. That is why they took the 1st Round pick from my first mock, the 2nd Round pick from my 2nd, and the 3rd Round pick from my 2nd. Damn, them.

  • rizzo29

    If he,s there I,m loving me some Shamarko

  • hergieburbur

    They are having an outstanding draft.

  • hergieburbur

    I wouldn’t hesitate to pick either one.

  • steeltown

    Yes, either Thomas would be great

  • David Edward

    No joke…I accidentally emailed my draft board to the Bengals and they used it

  • hergieburbur

    I am afraid we have to trade up for one of them.

  • steeltown

    I know… have a feeling we end with DWilliams

  • hergieburbur

    I liked the idea of getting Williams as the second safety we picked. I worry a bit that he will only ever be a depth guy, and we need an eventual starter.

  • David Edward

    A little worried that Steelers are building a skinny WR group, a slow RB group (besides LSH), and a slow OLB tandem (Jones and Woodley). But all in all Wheaton is a decent pick provided that they get the Safety

  • dgh57

    The Bengals are killing us!! They just took SS Shawn Williams!!!

  • LouPGH

    Agreed. I’m still happy with Jones > Eifert, but I liked Bernard > Bell, and we’ll call the 3rd Round a push since we can still get a safety in the 4th Round. If we don’t though, I’ll be pretty bummed. I like Wheaton, but there are more quality WRs left on the board than there are quality safeties.

  • hergieburbur

    That is the key. We can do without an ILB, but we cannot come out of this without a safety.

  • SteelersDepot

    Haley audio added

  • hergieburbur

    Yeah, they are. I would swap drafts with them in a second.

  • hergieburbur

    Plus, they got Hunt on top of it. Although I wanted Eifert over Jones.

  • JT

    Whether you like Hunt or not, there’s not scenario in which he goes to the Steelers this year. Too many other needs.

  • Dan

    Hmmm… 5’11” I guess he’ll fit right in with Sanders, Gilreath and Brown. They’re all about the same height. Short receivers and a tall RB. I see where we’re headed.
    BTW – espn reports his 40 at the combine at 4.45, but certainly decent speed. Hope he does become Wallace-esque (when he focused more on football than contracts).

  • hergieburbur

    I am not saying we should have picked Hunt, I am comparing the drafts relative to each other.

  • LouPGH

    And they have had 4 picks whereas we’ve had 3, which makes it hard to compare objectively.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000316680897 Michael Hoffman

    You are kidding me right,having two versions of Antonio Brown is not a bad problem at all.Rather nice problem to have

  • hergieburbur

    I’d rather learn that he can run routes than that he has Wallace speed myself.

  • JT

    But they’re not relative at all yet. More picks and different needs. You can’t say one is better than another until the guys actually make a difference on the field.

  • rizzo29

    That sanders draft pick would look good right about now.

  • hergieburbur

    Well, i didn’t start out as a comparison, just saying they are having one of the best.

  • hergieburbur

    Well, initially, I did not say one was better than the other. Nor has the reality of needing to wait a few years ever actually stopped anyone from grading a draft. ;)

  • LouPGH

    Right. I completely agree. I HATE that those guys are in the AFC North. Same goes for the Ravens. …At least the Browns never make me feel badly about who they pick.

  • JT

    EXACTLY! But why should we admit they got good players until we have too…lol

  • Guest

    If you like having two slot receivers who can’t go over the middle, can’t go deep and disappear in the red zone…

  • Guest

    oh yeah, I forgot, parade around like prima donnas after every single catch…get a clue AB, act like you have been there before (that is, making first downs!!!)

  • LouPGH

    Thank you, Bill Belichick.

  • JT

    Thank you St Louis. I would have lost it if Bailey fell that far.

  • SteelersDepot

    Server getting crushed tonight. Sorry for the load times

  • LouPGH

    You wouldn’t have preferred he fall to #115?

  • JT

    Oops! I forgot to include “And the Ravens snatched him”. But yes. That would have been perfect.

  • Guest

    Damn, Rams are having a great draft

  • dgh57

    It’s all on paper for now! Who cares if it’s relative or not. Nothing wrong with comparing drafts!

  • Guest

    Get it…all the good safeties are gone…we will be drafting safety next year

  • hergieburbur

    Phillip Thomas is one of the best fits in the whole draft for us at safety.

    Not to mention that we need TWO. Neither Troy nor Clark are likely to be on the roster in 2015, and one probably not in 2014.

  • Guest

    Yep, they are killin it…so we are #3 in the AFCN again in 2013…mark it down there fans…then we reup Big Ben for another five years and without any weapons…oh well, back to the 1980s

  • Andrew Weatherstone

    Yeah, so he won’t start until 2015 = 3rd place and no playoffs in 2013

  • hergieburbur

    Really don’t get your point there? Not to mention it is only true if Troy stays healthy or we don’t have to play Denver on the road any time soon.

  • LouPGH

    You’re being a bit presumptuous. Let’s wait three years and see.

  • hergieburbur

    Yeah, no need to go all chicken little just because we are having an average at best draft.

  • Andrew Weatherstone

    Troy healthy…yeah right…dude wants to hang in Hawaii instead of training, when are we going to realize that he is not dedicated to his trade like Ike? Wants to train on his own = injured in the last three/four seasons…hmmmmm

  • hergieburbur

    I think you missed my point.

  • Andrew Weatherstone

    Don’t forget, Steelers don’t like to “try” rooks on D, they “have to sit and learn” = wasted $$ and time on draft picks…when are we going to get rid of Steeler pride and try to put in rooks in on D??? Makes me ill.

  • LouPGH

    What are you talking about? Pretty sure every one of last year’s picks beside Spence (injury) and Ta’amu (arrest) saw playing time. DeCastro was projected to start before he went down with a serious injury, and there was talk about Spence before he went down. But you just keep believing what you want to believe.

  • Kolie Oak

    Wheaton reminds me of DeSean Jackson…

  • Andrew Weatherstone

    ok…three years of near misses and no playoffs…ok, if you want to.

  • Stephen Dale

    a medical risk in rd #1, a slow plodder in rd#2 and a short receiver in rd #3 ……a disastrous draft in light of what Cincy & Baltimore are doing………

  • Ahmad

    I love this pick and he was one of the WR’s I would have loved to see taken in the 3rd. Great pick here Steelers.

  • SteelerDave

    Nice sleeper pick. He could become special.

  • steeltown

    We went to the SB in 2010 and then we were 12-4 in 2011.. then ONE bad season.. and all hell is breaking loose… we’re pretty spoiled being Steelers fans to be honest

  • steeltown

    How do you know its “disastrous” no ones played a snap yet… we cant even gauge last yrs draft class yet.. hell its hard to gauge how good Cam Heyward or Cortez Allen will be..

  • hergieburbur

    I just said they sit earlier. You lost me a while back.

  • hergieburbur

    Yeah, I like the Wheaton pick.

  • steeltown

    Agreed

  • JT

    They do pretty well with WRs in round 3.

  • GoSteelerz

    Maybe I have to watch more film, but from what I saw, P. Thomas looked like he didn’t want to be in a contact sport. I want football players on my team, not guys that are afraid to touch or be touched by the opponent! Then again the way the league is heading, maybe this guy’s a prototype! Ha!

  • dgh57

    Shamarko Thomas isn’t afraid to mix it up! He’s a thumper and when he thumps you you know you’ve been THUMPED, ha ha!!! I’m aware of his flaws, I’m just saying.

  • http://www.facebook.com/andrew.alberico.73 Andrew Alberico

    I wonder what you fake fans would have said in 1974 when the Steelers drafted a smallish, not fast wide receiver from USC, a 6’5″, 215 lb. defensive end from “mighty” Kent State, a 235 lb. center from Wisconsin, and a wide receiver from that famous football factory, Alabama AM & N. All in the Hall of Fame. Does anyone remember the wailing and crying when the Steelers moved up to draft Troy Polamalu, and then said “I told you so” when he did not play much his rookie season? Steeler fans are seriously uninformed.

  • hergieburbur

    Fake fans? Who the hell are you that you think you can judge someone else as a fan? Jagoff.

    “Does anyone remember the wailing and crying when the Steelers moved up
    to draft Troy Polamalu, and then said “I told you so” when he did not
    play much his rookie season?”

    I remember actually knowing a thing or two about Troy and saying he was one of the best picks of the whole draft. But then, I am just a fake fan, whereas you can be all and mighty with the benefit of hindsight. We know it’s all just conjecture at this point.

  • rob.pghsteelersfan

    It really is too bad Allen didn’t drop a couple more picks. I hope they draft a possession type receiver at some point. S and ILB have to be the next picks. I wouldn’t mind a TE at some point either.

  • rob c.

    I liked this pick and even though I thought that the Bell pick was a reach at the position he was selected, he was the guy they wanted, so I am happy with both picks. I would still like to see them pick up another guy that they brought in with a 4th or 5th round pick, Boyce from TCU, he ran a 4.38 at the combine with a broken bone in his foot, he is the guy that can possibly stretch it over the top and replace Wallace.

  • hergieburbur

    Wheaton is a nice WR though. Many people had him as a possible second. I really don’t think we can afford any more offensive picks with the exception of OL or TE.

  • scott chase

    Not sure what Colbert and Tomlin are thinking at times.
    What was our biggest need first round? TE,to replace our team mvp and pro bowler H Miller. Plus he is a future star,that came from a weak class of TE’s this yr.
    When and if H Miller does return,u have 2 red zone threats and major mismatches in the middle of the field. A big time weakness in the red zone!!!! Sober up management!!! Tyler Eifert of course who i’m talkin about.
    Shoot round 2 we could address the pass rush with stud lb’s like S Moore,A Brown,J Collins,just to name a few,that would’ve been avaliable.
    L Bell -Round 2??? He is a good back and i have all the respect for him,but round 2 really? How many big backs do we need on this roster??
    Way too many rb’s in this draft with same talent level to reach so badly.
    WR Wheaton,a nice sleeper pick with good overall tools. I still think we need to draft another reciever,now that we blew the TE pick. Luv R Swope or C Vernon.
    Need at least 1 safety and CB yet too.
    Don’t waste a pick on a QB either. Free agent ones are probably about as good as drafted ones this yr,plus next yr QB class will be much stronger hopefully.
    Just a frustrated fan blowin off some steam here.

  • hergieburbur

    I don’t see how we can draft another WR. We need another LB, a S, a WR, possibly a TE and a depth guy for the OL.

  • Don

    Are you a Steelers fan? If so, I don’t know why since they’ve caused you all this pain.

  • scott chase

    Obvious problem is we don’t have enuff picks to fill our overall needs! Your right we need an In side backer ,if Spencer can’t come back,plus he is unproven to say the least.
    We need a wr that can be a red zone threat. Burress needs to be cut and lets move man.
    We missed playoffs last yr due to a stagnant offense,as the defense held it’s own and was ranked first again. That being said though,we need big time depth at safety yet too. With Eifert we wouldn’t need 2 recievers,that is another reason that we blew that first pick.
    We pissed around enuff with OL last 3 yrs. Time to stay healthy and step up. Need a CB to,as teams will lick thier chops and play 3 -4 wr sets if that means W Gay has to play. Not a good deal there either.

  • hergieburbur

    Apparently, Wheaton has done pretty well in the redzone.

  • scott chase

    Ya it’s a start. He is not big but he does seem to have a nose for the end zone. Good point! Maybe if Heath was good to go red zone issues might not be as bad. Plus u gotta be able to pound it in once in awhile too.

  • hergieburbur

    Much as I think Bell was a reach, I still wanted him in the 3rd, as he can pound the rock and get in the end zone.

  • scott chase

    Ya 3rd round been better. He looks slow in his high lite films,but he is a patient runner though. No doubt he is talented and was the whole offense for the spartans last yr. So his numbers are pretty darn impressive against teams always keying on him. Hopefully Howling can be a good change a pace back for us and help us in the recieving game a bit.

  • Intropy

    Lester in the 7th or UDFA might be worth a shot as a second pickup.

  • hergieburbur

    Not familiar with him, I’ll have to check him out. I do think Golden or Cromartie-Smith may fill our depth need at safety, but I don’t see them ever starting.

  • rob c.

    I actually like the Polamalu pick, and in 74 I had to read about the draft in the paper the following day, social media was non existent back then.

  • Clint Martin

    Clueless

  • Clint Martin

    He isn’t Wallace at all he can catch the ball

  • Dan

    If he can do more than say “awe shucks” when a db plucks the ball away from him, that will be a step in the right direction.

  • GoSteelerz

    Yeah, Shamarko Thomas, yes, I’ve liked him from the first film I saw of him, but Philip Thomas looked waaaay too tentative for my taste. It’s a moot point, though, thankfully because we got Shamarko int he 4th round!!! :D I couldn’t believe he lasted that long. Now we need to sign Rontez Miles as an undrafted rookie free agent and we’ll be set at safety, with those guys and the versatile Golden in the mix, that would be NICE!