The Apache football program can now add a fourth name to the list of players who have gone on to play in the Pro Bowl. Former Apache Johnny Knox of the Chicago Bears made his debut as a member of the NFC all-star roster last Sunday night to finish up his rookie season. Knox was added to the roster as an injury replacement for fellow rookie Percy Harvin of the Minnesota Vikings. Knox was placed on the team as a primary return specialist but also saw some time on the field at receiver. He finished the game with kickoff returns of 30, 26, 26 and 21 yards in a 41-34 loss to the AFC at Sun Life Stadium in Miami on Jan. 31.Knox became the first Apache since Mitch Berger in 2005 to be selected to a Pro Bowl and the first offensive position player in school history. The experience Knox has gained from playing at TJC and having to work even harder to make a name for himself has made him the player he is today.”No matter what level you play at, they will find you,” Knox said to KTBB Sports Radio. “I just kept working hard and playing at that level and that’s what kept me motivated to help me make it up to this point.”Because Knox’s high school team in Houston didn’t have much success, he initially didn’t have much interest from big name Division I schools. As a result, his route to the top was different than most NFL Pro Bowlers’.”Coming out of high school I had to take a different route,” Knox said. ” Going to Tyler and Abilene (Abilene Christian University) I don’t regret it because they’ve brought me a lot of success to get to this point.”No one was more proud to see him on the field with the rest of the stars than his former position coach Ryan Mahon. “He was an incredibly great kid who was always smiling,” Mahon said. “I was extremely happy for him.”Coach Mahon went on to say that Knox’s Pro Bowl status will also undoubtedly have some influence on future recruits.”He is the poster child of what we try to accomplish,” Mahon said. “He gives us instant credibility because it shows that we can produce that type of player.”After Knox finished up his career at TJC in 2006 as an All-American Second Team player, he went on to play at Abilene Christian University where he continued to break records. Watching him succeed this early in his career isn’t a surprise for his former head coach at ACU.”He always strove to do better and you could always expect the same thing from him every day,” head coach Chris Thomsen said. “He’s a class competitor and one of those guys that’s easy to pull for.”Knox was drafted in the first round last April and was the first Bears rookie to be selected to play in the Pro Bowl since Devin Hester in 2006. He enjoyed a successful rookie season as he was second in kickoff returns with a 29.0-yard average, trailing only the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ Clifton- Smith (29.1). Knox was always a threat when carrying the ball as he had 32 kickoff returns for 927 yards, including the second longest kick return touchdown in Bears history-a 102 yard touchdown in Week 4. Knox also contributed to the offense this season as his 45 receptions tied for third most-by a Bears rookie and tied for the most by a rookie in team history. His six touchdowns tied him for fifth among NFL rookies and he joined Hall of Fame running back Walter Payton as the only other Bears rookie to score a touchdown in four straight games.

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