Home Sports Worth the wait: Richards’ Marquel Porter, a converted QB, catches on for national champion College of DuPage. ‘It felt way better.’

Worth the wait: Richards’ Marquel Porter, a converted QB, catches on for national champion College of DuPage. ‘It felt way better.’

by staff

Even though his playing time was limited in 2021, Marquel Porter was still happy when the College of DuPage football team ended up winning the national championship.

The Richards graduate sat out much of last season and had to wait his turn, appearing in only five games as a wide receiver and finishing with just one reception for 10 yards.

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“It was tough watching them,” Porter said. “But I was happy, too, because these guys were my brothers, so I was happy to see them shine.”

This season, it was Porter’s time to shine.

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The 6-foot-4, 185-pound sophomore came up with a 25-yard touchdown catch Dec. 3 to key the Chaparrals to a 14-12 win over North Dakota State College of Science in Glen Ellyn.

That victory in the NJCAA Division III national championship game gave DuPage the title for the second year in row.

His feelings after the win?

“There’s nothing like it,” said Porter, who led the Chaparrals in 2022 with 25 catches. “It was fun. Last year, I didn’t do much to help win it. The feeling was good, but this year when I contributed, it felt good, too.

“I don’t know how to explain it. It felt way better because I actually did something to contribute to the win.”

Most people remember Porter from high school at Shepard and Richards as a quarterback. He had played that position most of his career, including with the Robbins CalPark Eagles.

Certain games from back then Porter can never forget. In eighth grade, the Eagles lost 4-0, coming up one game short of the Pop Warner national final.

“I was the quarterback,” he said. “And I was tackled in the end zone twice.”

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But fast forward years later, and there was Porter celebrating a TD in the end zone for DuPage (9-2) in the national championship game.

Porter, a Quincy recruit, said the change from calling the signals to catching the ball was not all that difficult.

“It came with its advantages,” he said. “You know what the quarterback wants and what he likes to see. I know the reads of the defenses. I know what to do.”

DuPage coach Matt Rahn said he liked Porter’s size and skills to be a receiver but knew it would be a process.

The 2020 season was canceled due to the pandemic. Rahn pointed out the most his athletes could do was work out for an hour a day.

Richards quarterback Marquel Porter throws the ball against St. Rita during a rainy nonconference game in Chicago on Friday, Aug. 31, 2018.

DuPage is the only junior college in Illinois that offers football, so the Chaparrals have a large roster. Playing time is at a premium.

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It meant the previous two years were not as productive on the field for Porter. But off the field?

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“He was able to transform his body because he was very thin in high school,” Rahn said of Porter. “He put on a lot of muscle in 2020 and 2021. He transformed so much that we put him in the slot.

“Usually, we don’t put big receivers in the slot, but his skills were so valuable to us. He’s developed so much that whether he is playing outside or inside, he’s on it.”

Wide receivers Vince Brown (Rich Central), Gavin Butler (Oak Lawn) and Myles McKatherine (St. Rita) and lineman Damaurius Stewart (St. Laurence) are among those from the Southland on the 111-player roster.

Early on, however, Porter had to adjust to the lack of playing time.

“Last year, I was missing confidence,” Porter said. “I took time to work on confidence and building it up. I also had to work to get better.

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“I feel it was an accomplishment to play this year, but honestly, this is what I expected of myself.”

Jeff Vorva is a freelance reporter for the Daily Southtown.

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