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Former Apache drafted into NFL by Chicago Bears

Former Apache wide receiver Johnny Knox was selected by the Chicago Bears in the 5th round as the 140th overall pick in this years NFL draft.

While still wearing the black and gold, Knox grabbed All-Southwest Conference and second team All-American honors as he led the NJCAA in touchdowns and yards-per-catch in 2006.

NJCAA also named Knox the offensive player of the week for his performace in games during the week of Sept. 4, 2006.

After his career at TJC, Knox continued to play football for Abilene Christian University.

Not highly recruited out of Channelview High School in Houston, Knox came to TJC to develop his abilities and improve the awareness of his talent by Division I schools. His greatest asset was speed.

“He comes from a smaller level of competition, but the athleticism and the speed were just too good to pass up,” said Greg Gabriel, Chicago’s director of college scouting.

Knox ran the second fastest time at the NFL combine with a 4.31 40-yard dash.

Draft guru Todd McShay said to expect Knox to contribute on special teams and be involved in sub-packages for the offense, while fellow prospect expert Mel Kiper Jr. called Knox a “good pick.”

Stemming from the addition of players like Jarron Gilbert and other rookies such as Henry Melton, along with Knox, the Bears were given grades of two As and five Bs from their picks in the draft.

General Manager, Johnny Angelo, said pre-draft that if a receiver was taken in the first four rounds, then the team would expect that player to be a factor the first year.

Johnny fell out of that category coming in the fifth, but the expected learning curve has been set by the Bears at about two years for incoming rookies.

“We’re proud of all our athletes…, but [Knox] beat incredible odds to make it as a professional athlete,” said Tim Drain, TJC athletic director. “There was talk back then that Johnny had incredible talent and a good chance to play.”

Knox is not the first player to come out of the Apache football program to make it in the NFL. Currently five other players, including Super Bowl champion Mitch Berger who punted for the Steelers in 2008, are on NFL teams.

TJC has seen success from former Apaches in Super Bowl games for three consecutive years.

Berger became the third Apache to be a part of the winning Super Bowl team, as Pittsburgh Steelers squeaked out the victory with a touchdown pass by Ben Roethlisberger and catch by Santonio Holmes with 35 seconds left to beat the Arizona Cardinals 27-23.

Berger played football at TJC during the 1990 football season. He later transferred to the University of Colorado, where he was the starting punter for three seasons.

He first played in the NFL for the Philadelphia Eagles in 1994. He has spent 14 seasons in the NFL and has made two Pro Bowls and one Super Bowl.

Two years ago, Super Bowl XLII also had a former Apache. Safety Michael Johnson played for the New York Giants, also the winning team.

Three years ago in Super Bowl XLI, former Apache Dominic Rhodes held the running back position for the Indianapolis Colts, again, the winning team.

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