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Dr. Saturday

After fighting off deadly fungal infection, UCLA's Marcus Rios returns to field

Sam Cooper
Dr. Saturday
NCAA Football: Washington at UCLA
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Nov 15, 2013; Pasadena, CA, USA; General view of an alternative black UCLA Bruins helmet on the sidelines during the game against the Washington Huskies at Rose Bowl. (Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports)

The start of preseason camp was different for UCLA cornerback Marcus Rios.

“I haven’t been out here for about two years,” Rios said. “I have been thinking about it for a very long time. I took a moment, took it in and was ready to go.”

Rios, a sophomore, saw some playing time in 2012 before being sidelined with what was believed initially to be a sinus infection. It turned out to be much more serious.

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(via Rivals)

(via Rivals)

Per the Los Angeles Times, Rios actually had a “rare and aggressive fungal infection.” He spent months in the hospital in the spring of 2013 and doctors told him after he was released that they did not expect him to survive the ordeal.

His story was documented on Animal Planet’s “Monsters Inside Me,” which features people who are victims of parasites. Rios said he hopes his comeback story can inspire others who have gone through similar ordeals.

“Anything I can do to help people who go through troubles,” Rios said. “You get depressed, but things can get better if you stay positive. I can embrace what I have been through. I am blessed to be alive.”

Rios rejoined the team last fall, but was in no condition to suit up for the Bruins. He said his weight was down to 130 pounds, but now that he’s off medications, he has been able to get back up to 185 pounds. With the 2014 season rapidly approaching, the former four-star recruit is ready to get back out on the field on Saturdays.

“I have been through enough,” Rios said. “I’m just ready to play ball again.”

His position coach, Demetrice Martin, said Rios is regaining the edge he saw from him back when he was a recruit.

“Fighting back from that illness, enduring something that serious, you have to admire him,” Martin said. “He’s picking things back up. He respects the process. I believe he will be rewarded. Hard work will pay off.”

Beyond just preseason camp, Rios will get his first action back out on the field on August 30 when the Bruins travel to Virginia. His return to the Rose Bowl will come in a week two matchup with Memphis.

For more UCLA news, visit BruinSportsReport.com.

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Sam Cooper is a contributor for the Yahoo Sports blogs. Have a tip? Email him or follow him on Twitter!

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