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Gold and Black Illustrated Volume 28, Digital 5

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GOLD AND BLACK ILLUSTRATED VOLUME 28, ISSUE 5 24 and Uplift. In other words, Knox purposely surrounded himself with driven, intellectual men who similarly valued being a strong man, a serious student, handling adversity well and helping others. Two of Knox's line brothers are headed to med school, and the other two already have graduated, Knox said. Knox will graduate in May. "Once you're in that circle, you don't want to be left be- hind," Knox said. "So that's why I work so hard at what I do — it's because I can't be a failure. I have to make the most of my opportunities because somebody made the sacrifice in order for me to be in the situation that I'm in. Just mess- ing up the opportunity is like giving the big middle finger to the people who put so much into me." So he never surrenders. He pushes more weight. (He's largely considered, pound for pound, the strongest player on the team with his max bench press of 450, his max squat of 525 and power clean of 285.) He finishes conditioning strong, every time. He grinds out runs on the field, somehow popping out of dead-end plays, somehow bouncing off a line of defend- ers to pick up key yardage, consistently. ("You heard of X-Men? He's the Juggernaut: Once he picks up momen- tum, he can't be stopped," Phillips said.) He devotes appropriate time to schoolwork. He arrives on time to meetings. He organizes food drives for the homeless, hosts events to raise money for charity, visits nursing homes, puts on step-show events. He inspires with how he overcomes challenges, wheth- er they're injury-related, depth-chart shuffling or, more se- riously, being 600 miles away when his father had a stroke last year. "He's a tough individual," Hunte said. "Some of the things I watched him go through, it's just crazy for a young man like himself to be able to bounce back and to be able to stay positive through- out all the things he's gone through. I was there when he got the call about his father having a stroke. The way he was able to keep his head up and continue to be a great teammate as well as be there for his family, it's something I look up to. Even dealing with his ACL injury. With D.J., it's hard to see him at a down point because he's the one who brings excitement to our group and everybody around him. "Being able to respond the way he's done over the past few years is unmatched, dealing with so many obstacles that's been put in front of him. Being able to put his head down and continue to grind it out, you look up to those type of things. He's younger than me and he came in a year lat- er than me, but the things I watched him go through and being able to overcome, he definitely has inspired me." The game after Knox learned of his father's stroke was Purdue's trophy game against Illinois in Ross-Ade Stadium. Not surprisingly, he delivered a vintage Knox play in the midst of it. On a fourth-and-short in the first half, Knox took a pitch from David Blough and tried to bust outside. He was grabbed by a defender soon after crossing the line. Then, an Illinois safety came flying in to deliver the finishing blow, as Knox turned his back to absorb it. But this wasn't a slow-motion play: Knox's legs never stopped moving, even running toward the goal line with his back turned, before spinning off everyone. And then he slipped another defender and raced into the end zone for a 33-yard score. In the end zone, he dropped to a knee and said a prayer, mind focused in Georgia, on his ailing dad. After the victory, Knox celebrated more dramatically, hoisting the Cannon Trophy in the air and, later, being hoisted himself by lineman teammate Eric Swingler. His teammates knew the circumstances under which Knox had just produced 85 yards rushing on a season-high 14 carries. Did Knox want more carries then? Of course. And in every other game of the season. But he knew he couldn't 1241 Cumberland Ave, Suite B West Lafayette, IN 47906 Phone: 765-497-0197 A Fee-Based Investment Advisor located in the Purdue Research Park 25+ Years of Investment Management Experience Bill Banker, President Purdue University Alumnus '85 Purdue Baseball Alumnus '81-'85

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