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UCLA football: Marcus Rios taking his comeback slow

October 10, 2013|By Chris Foster
  • Marcus Rios spent more than a month in the hospital last winter as doctors tried to eradicate a rare fungal infection.
Marcus Rios spent more than a month in the hospital last winter as doctors… (Al Seib / Los Angeles Times )

If UCLA cornerback Marcus Rios had his druthers, he would be in the lineup Saturday against California.

Caution, though, is the word.

Rios spent the past year battling a fungal virus in his sinus that nearly killed him. He returned to the Bruins in September and has suited up for two games. He was in full pads in practice Tuesday.

However, the chances of him playing this season are slim.

“He’s making progress,” Coach Jim Mora said. “It’s slow, but it’s steady. He missed a lot of time. He spent a lot of time in the hospital. He’s anxious to get back out here. But the first thing he has to do is get out here and practice, make it through a normal practice without having any setbacks.”

Rios has checkups to make sure that the fungal infection hasn’t returned. He has been given a clean bill of health thus far, but his strength and stamina are the concerns.

Rios lost 50 pounds during his six-month ordeal. He has gained much of that back, but still looks like a twig in uniform.

“We want Marcus out here, we love him,” Mora said. “He’s a heck of a player. But the most important thing here is his health. I don’t want to put him in a situation where he is going to get hurt because he is not ready. So we just have to patient. It’s hard for him, because he is dying to play. We have to protect from himself a little bit.”

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