SAN ANTONIO - The East's top performer during Saturday's U.S. Army All-American Bowl was an improbable one.
Cole Marcoux, a two-star quarterback prospect from The Fieldson School in the Bronx, N.Y., never even dreamed of playing in the prestigious all-star game until he was selected to be a part of a reality television series called The Ride.
"I was at a Football University Camp in Philadelphia last spring working with Tom Martinez, who is a coach for [New England Patriots' quarterback] Tom Brady, and a couple guys pulled me aside and told me they wanted me to be on the show," recalled Marcoux. "I had no idea what he was talking about, but I went along for the ride and it ended up being the best ride of my life."
Marcoux beat out seven other contestants on the show to earn a spot on the East squad. The 6-foot-5, 234-pounder showed up in the Alamo City on Sunday feeling like an underdog.
"The Bronx is a basketball area, and I didn't play football until I got to high school because there is not that much space to play. It was easy to get overlooked," Marcoux said. "I am not sure what I wanted to prove coming out here. I guess I just wanted to prove I can play on this level."
And after a week of practices, during which he struggled at times, Marcoux did just that.
"Cole was better than our other three quarterbacks during a lot of drills, but when we got live during our practices the speed was a little bit too much for him," said East coach George Quarles. "But today, I thought he played very under control. It didn't move too fast for him. I was very impressed."
When Marcoux entered the game for the first time with 11:09 remaining in the fourth quarter, the East trailed 21-0. Marcoux completed both of his passes on his first drive, which was capped off by a 50-yard strike to wide receiver Ivan McCartney.
The East then recovered an onside kick, and Marcoux engineered another scoring drive. He threw a 16-yard touchdown to tight end Gerald Christian and completed a difficult pass to C.J. Fiedorowicz for the two-point conversion.
"Cole definitely gave us a spark," said Quarles. "I wish we would have gotten him in there earlier, it could have been a different game. But he showed a lot of poise, made some nice throws. He hit the receivers when they were open and squeezed a couple tough throws in there, as well.
"I watched him throw the first touchdown and then I watched the second touchdown and I am like, 'Why didn't this kid start? Why hasn't he been out there?'" added East defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd. "He turned out to be the top quarterback. It doesn't get any better than that for him."
Marcoux connected on five of eight passes for 99 yards. One of his incompletions was a beautifully thrown deep pass that was dropped by Markeith Ambles.
"When I first got in the game, I had a million things going through my head. I knew it was a chance of a lifetime," Marcoux said. "After a couple plays, I started to feel normal. I felt that I did well, so I am pleased. It has been an unbelievable week, and this was the perfect way to cap it off."
Marcoux is currently committed to play at Dartmouth. Which begs the question, is he looking for an opportunity to play at the Football Bowl Subdivision level.
"I would welcome interest from any D-I schools, but I am really happy with Dartmouth," Marcoux responded. "The Ivy League would be a great spot for me to be successful. But if any other schools come along and they want to recruit me, I would give them my attention, definitely."
Maybe the ride isn't over for Marcoux.
"I do hope his performance today will lead to something big for Cole," added Quarles.