PEORIA, Ill. - When Marques Cox first put on a football jersey at Peoria High he didn't resemble the 6-5, 295-pound lineman he is today.
"I was bow-legged," Cox said. "Coaches were worried about me running. I didn't look like an athlete."
Now Cox is the cornerstone of the Lions offense line. A player with Division 1 college aspirations after these playoffs. The Lions travels to Country Club Hills Hillcrest in a Class 5A playoff opener Friday.
"I'm enjoying this moment," Cox said. "You don't really get this moment back. It's my last go, my last year playing for Peoria High."
While Cox is hoping to make some 2017 playoff memories the next few weeks, he will never forget the end of last season. In November he helped Peoria High win the state championship.
Then on Dec. 28, his birthday, he had major knee surgery.
"I'm glad I had it, I'm glad it happened," said Cox, who has a torn ACL. "God has his own plan."
Cox says football has changed him since he first came to high school. And he's thankful for the opportunity to play at least one more game in his prep career.
"Football is about a team effort," said Cox. "And everything that makes your team better."
He is a national champion. Even if he doesn't feel like one.
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