Today marks just 13 games until the first Sunday of the NFL season, meaning that today's installment of Chicago Bears Countdown to Kickoff continues by looking at the life and career of the best player in franchise history to don the number 13, receiver Johnny Knox.
Johnny Knox Stars in JUCO and DII before joining the Chicago Bears
A native of Houston, Texas, Knox attended Channelview High School, just a few miles away from downtown H-town. There, Knox played on the school's football team and excelled as a speedy receiver. Despite earning Offensive MVP honors in his district alongside being named a First-Team player, Knox failed to garner a lot of attention as a prospect following his graduation.
Knox's best offer came from Tyler Junior College, where the receiver elected to begin his collegiate career. There, Knox worked incredibly hard to crack the team's starting lineup and did so as a sophomore. In his second season, the receiver turned in a dominant campaign, finishing with 886 yards and 11 touchdowns.
His yardage total ranked amongst the top of all Junior College players, and Knox quickly became known as one of the best transfer candidates nationwide. Eventually, Knox accepted an offer from Abilene Christian, a then Division II school located just 350 miles away from his hometown.
At Abilene Christian, Knox began his career as a backup receiver, but slowly worked his way into the team's starting rotation. By his second season, Knox was one of the team's best talents and finished the season with an impressive 1,158 yards and 17 touchdowns (both marks rank within the top four of program history, with his touchdown total serving as the most in a season of all time). During the year, Knox helped the team post an undefeated record en route to qualifying for their first Championship tournament appearance in program history.
Despite their postseason loss, Knox was recognized nationally as a top receiver and was named an All-American player at the end of the year. Knox then decided to enter his name into the 2009 NFL Draft, and was invited to the NFL Combine leading up to the event. There, Knox put on a show of his athleticism and finished with a 4.29-second 40-yard dash alongside a 35-inch vertical jump.
Revered as a rare athletic specimen, Knox was selected by the Chicago Bears with the 140th overall pick during the fifth round, making him the fifth player selected by the team.