Marcus Rios prepares return to football after life-threatening infection

Just a few months after fighting for his life, Marcus Rios believes he is ready to play football again.

Last fall, the UCLA cornerback came down with a rare fungal infection, one that spread from his sinuses to the base of his brain.

In February, he went through four different surgeries. He was confined to UCLA Medical Center for nearly a month, and had a catheter pumping antibiotics through his arm for months after that.

Two weeks ago, he finally had the line removed. On Tuesday, he returned to practice for the first time.

“I didn’t think it would come so fast,” said Rios, who played nine games as a freshman. “It ended up happening. I got a call from my doctor saying the medication’s going good. Your body’s responding to it well. There’s no need for a PICC line anymore.”

The removal allowed him to return to workouts unencumbered. He still gets checked by doctors every month, and undergoes an MRI every two to three months. The results are encouraging.

Once withered down to 130 pounds, he said he is back up to 175, and would suit up in full pads right now if coaches allowed him.

“I was ready to go today,” Rios said. “I walked in there, I saw my pads. … I’m ready. I’m hungry. I’m just ready to ball again.”

For another two weeks, he’ll be restricted to strength and conditioning workouts with assistant coach Sal Alosi. Although the staff is trying to ease him back into action, Rios thinks he could return to the field as soon as Oct. 3, when UCLA visits Utah to open conference play.

“I’m definitely playing this year,” he said. “That’s happening.”

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  • Sam C

    Glad to hear the kid is healthy again. Everything after that is gravy.

    • EncinitasBruin

      +1. Great to hear about the recovery. Our prayers and best wishes are with you, Marcus, and we look forward to seeing you on the playing field.

  • Scott

    So happy to hear that he’s doing well and glad he can rejoin his teammates.

  • C.g. Carver

    Marcus, Me & my Queen are not alums but we are season ticket holders (8 yrs.).

    I went through almost the same situation but mine was a finger infection. They wheeled me into ER & the Doc said cut the finger off or he will be dead in less than one hour. They cut & I lived. Now I get to see you play real soon. Short-of makes us related. You know what, we even look alike. God Bless…play hard young man…Go Bruins…the corn-nibs ain’t got jack