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Rios relishing in fifth year of eligibility

By Garrin Marchetti
On October 3, 2012


     In life, anything can happen. Things may be going great one minute, but everything can go bad in the next.

   Sports are a lot like life in this regard. Athletes go through a lot during their playing careers, and Michael Rios, a fifth-year senior wide receiver on the Marist football team, has certainly seen good days and bad days.

   Last season against Bucknell, Rios suffered a hamstring injury and was forced to leave the game. The injury was worse than expected, and Rios missed the remainder of the season.

   Fast forward to Sept. 22. The Red Foxes were playing conference foe Davidson, at home, in their first PFL game of the season. The team had lost two straight games and needed a victory to get back on track. They needed someone to step up.

     Michael Rios was that someone. He caught eight passes for three touchdowns and set a new program record with 244 receiving yards.

     He had come a long way from his injury, but the journey back from injury - not to mention his journey to Marist - was certainly not an easy one.


     From Florida to New York


     When Rios was five years old, his family moved to Miami, FL.

     Rios played baseball growing up, but switched to football in high school because his older brother played. Rios started out as a running back, but did not get much time on the field until his senior year, when the coaching staff at Belen Jesuit High School moved him to receiver.

     Once the season started, college scouts from around the country started to turn up at Belen Jesuit games, inquiring about this 6'2'' receiver who seemed to appear out of nowhere.

   "I wasn't planning on playing football in college before my senior season," Rios said. "Only after I talked to some scouts did I realize that I might be able to play at the next level."

   Rios explained that there were about ten schools that recruited him during his senior year. In the end, Marist showed the most interest.

   "I wanted to get away from Miami a little bit, try something different, and Marist seemed to want me a lot, so it was the perfect situation," Rios said.

   The decision to come to Poughkeepsie may have been easy, but the transition proved difficult at first.

   "It was definitely not easy," Rios said. "The weather obviously was totally different; here, there are four seasons, as opposed to back home there is only really one. And culturally too, being around people who grew up in different environments than me. It was hard at first."

     Coming into an entirely different setting can be intimidating for any college freshman. Luckily for Rios, he had someone on the team that took him under his wing: former Marist standout James LaMacchia.

   "I talk with him [LaMacchia] after almost every game. He taught me a lot of the little things I had to do to get better," Rios said. "He was such a smart player, knowing exactly what to do in certain situations. He was one of my mentors, and I still use what he taught me today."

     Using those lessons, Rios climbed his way up the depth chart. At the start of the 2011 season, he was one of the top receivers on the team, and primed for a big year.


                 The Comeback


  When Rios got hurt, missing games was something he had not been used to. Up until that point in his career, he had only missed two games.

     "It was so tough, because I was watching us [the team] lose games where I know, if I were out there, I could help the offense out. I remember the first home game after my injury; I had to leave the bench because I was crying. It was struggle."

     Despite the struggle of the injury, Rios today says that he has become stronger because of it.      

     "I realize now that it [the injury] was a blessing in disguise. It was very tough, but it made me tougher in the long run. I'm happy that it happened," Rios said.

     Because he got hurt so early in the season, the NCAA granted Rios a fifth year of eligibility. Rios says he feels blessed to be able to have a second chance, and the Davidson game served as a culmination of his hard road to recovery.

     "I work very hard for football. It's my craft," Rios said. "I work on it every single day, whether it's physical or mental. Last year was miserable, and to have the game that I had, after everything I went was awesome."

     Rios has several goals that he would like to see happen for both himself and his teammates.

     "I would really like to get over 1,000 yards and 10 touchdowns this year," Rios said. "I would also like for us [the team] to win the PFL championship."

     Rios' injury proved that life has its bad moments, but his comeback shows that life can have its good moments too.

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