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Odessa High football coach Ron King remembers the time when Marcus Cannon was pushing people around as an offensive lineman for the Bronchos and thinking, wistfully, that if he could ever find a mean streak in the gentle giant, opposing quarterbacks would be running for their lives.

King, however, never was able to convince Cannon to move from offense to defense and it’s just as well because if he had, Cannon might not be in the same spot he is today.

The redshirt junior is the starting right tackle for TCU, a position he took over last year as the Horned Frogs battled all the way to a bowl game and ended the season with a 17-16 victory over Boise State in the Poinsettia Bowl in San Diego.

This year, Cannon already has been on the road with TCU as it traveled to Charlottesville, Va., last week to defeated the University of Virginia 30-14 in the Horned Frogs’ opener.

“That was a fun trip and it was the first time I’d been to the Virginia,” Cannon said. “They had a lot of fans and they take their football seriously, but we played well, though there are a couple little things that I can improve on.

“We’re looking forward to another good season and getting back to a bowl game.”

In order for TCU to accomplish that goal, Cannon and the rest of his linemates will need to have another stellar season opening holes for the running backs. Last year, the Horned Frogs gained 2,863 yards rushing, averaging 4.5 yards per carry, in compiling an 11-2 overall mark.

The only losses on the season were to Oklahoma and a heartbreaking 13-10 loss to the University of Utah in the penultimate game of the regular season.

“We know that we had a chance to win that game and we’ll get another chance this year,” Cannon said. “Also, BYU is very good this year, so we have to be ready for them, too.”

To get ready, Cannon has been hitting the weight room as religiously as opposing defensive linemen and linebackers.

After a spring season that saw him earn All-Mountain West Conference honors in the shot put, Cannon embarked on a training routine that included plenty of running and lifting during the summer.

So much lifting, in fact, that ESPN named Cannon one of its 10 Workout Warriors in college football.

“That was all right,” Cannon said. “They (ESPN) were talking to (teammate) Jerry Hughes and he said something about me to them, so that’s how they found out.

“This summer it was pretty much wake up, go to class and then go to work out, every day. Sometimes all the offensive linemen would get together and do things so we can improve.”

All the working out left little time for Cannon to travel back and forth from Fort Worth to the Permian Basin, but having his son in Texas and playing close enough to drive to his games is good enough for Cannon’s father, Ebbie.

“He comes home when he can,” Ebbie Cannon said. “He’s having fun and working hard at school and football, so that’s good and to see him get some recognition for what he is doing is good, too.

“Plus, we get a chance to drive to see him play football, which a lot of parents can’t do.”

Cannon, who was a member of the OHS power lifting team in high school, said that he now is bench-pressing 480 pounds and lifted 750 in the squat. “But we don’t really go over 600 in the squats while we’re working out.”

Those are Larry Brown-esque numbers, for those who remember the longtime Dallas Cowboys’ guard ability to throw his weight around.

All the attention and work has improved Cannon’s status in the eyes of the NFL scouts who have started to project players for the 2010 NFL Draft, which Cannon is eligible for since he is a junior.

Cannon, though, is ready to leave that side of the game to the others and focus on what he can take care off.

“It’s nice to think about, but you can’t let it get in the way of what needs to be done on the field,” Cannon said. “I have this season and next season and all it does is remind me that I need to get better.



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