The Saints are already loaded at wide receiver, but it appears more talent is headed their way. Apparently Brett Favre isn't the only NFL quarterback that likes to spend the offseason throwing to high school players.
According to Saints Associated Press beat writer Brett Martel, Drew Brees does as well. During his lengthy contract hold out , Brees had been keeping his arm from gathering dust by throwing to members of the Westview Wolverines in San Diego. Only Brees' favorite target was not one of the Wolverines players, but their wide receivers coach, 28-year-old Marques Clark.
Martel describes the chemistry that developed between Brees and Clark, that goes back to 2010. Clark, a California native, played for two years at Division II Henderson State in Arkansas, where in two seasons he caught 91 passes for 1,456 yards and 11 touchdowns. Despite those respectable numbers, Clark was was not invited to any NFL Combine camps and his tryout with a United League football team didn't go anywhere so he returned to California to work at a casino before getting the coaching opportunity at Westvies.
While working with the Wolverine players, Brees also invited Clark to run routes and gradually became more impressed with him; he even draws comparison between him and Marques Colston.
Feeling that Clark slipped through the cracks, Brees got a second opinion from Chase Daniel and Sean Canfield who affirmed Brees' beliefs. Afterwards, Brees contacted quarterback coach Joe Lombardi and Director of Pro Scouting Ryan Pace to get Clark a tryout, which resulted in a contract offer from Mickey Loomis.
As the article mentions, Clark's story sounds very familiar to that of former Saints punt returner Michael Lewis, who never went to college but got a tryout with the team after playing semi-pro football and driving a Budweiser truck. Lewis went from driving that beer truck to becoming the Saints all-time punt return leader and also holds the NFL singe season record for punt return yardage.
The coaching angle also seems slightly familiar to the story of Jim Morris, who coached high school baseball and then tried out for the majors as a promise to his team for winning the state championship. He wound up making his major league debut with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays at the age of 35. As you may know, Disney chronicled his rise to the big leagues in the movie The Rookie.
You have to believe Brees knows a good wide receiver when he sees one. Clark's biggest challenge in fully making his mark are the other great wide receivers that Saints already have on roster, including another guy named Marques .
It's odd how the majority of the Saints wide receiving corps come from colleges such as Hofstra, Ball State, Walsh and now possibly Henderson State; programs that don't get highlighted on ESPN Game Day much.
Despite the strength at wide receiver, the Saints did lose a key member in Robert Meachem to the San Diego Chargers in free agency. While not a direct trade, it would be very ironic if the same city gave the Saints back a player of Meachem's caliber from a high school coaching staff roster.