When you’ve been invited to an NFL team’s rookie camp, being a local guy has its advantages.
Just ask former Raytown South and Pittsburg State receiver Marquise Cushon, who was among the 39 tryout players hoping to catch the Chiefs’ eye this weekend during a three-day tryout.
“Being in Raytown, I stayed only five or 10 minutes from the stadium, so a lot of guys were sleeping the hotel, but I got to stay at home and sleep in my own bed a few nights,” said Cushon, whose mother, LaCresha Kuykendall, is a contruction worker who helped build the training facility he got a chance to practice at over the weekend.
“It was amazing, just coming out here and being on the same ground of some of the legends of Kansas City I grew up watching,” he said. “That part was very special for me.”
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Cushon, a three-time Division II All-American in the triple jump at Pitt State and the Missouri Class 4 state champ in the event as a senior at Raytown South, gave up a promising track career to pursue the NFL.
“It was definitely a big decision … but football is my first love,” Cushon said. “Growing up in Kansas City, the Kansas City Chiefs were in my backyard, and there’s no better feeling than being here right now in this moment.”
The 5-foot-8, 172-pound Cushon — a three-year starter at Pitt State — went undrafted after a senior season in which he caught 40 passes for 483 yards and a touchdown, while rushing 27 times for 257 yards. He also returned 15 kickoffs for 329 yards (a 21.9-yard average) and nine punts for 84 yards (a 9.3-yard average).
He said he chose to attend the Chiefs’ rookie camp over a few other offers because it was his hometown team, and he was happy with how he competed.
“Being from a Division II school, Pittsburg State, going against some of the Division I guys is something that I haven’t been able to do,” Cushon said. “But I’m glad I got to come out here and show my ability versus them.”
Cushon said he hasn’t heard from the Chiefs about a contract, but is dead set on pursuing his NFL dream, which he sees as a vehicle to do some of the nonprofit youth work he’s also passionate about.
“They said they’d give us a call,” Cushon said, “but there’s other teams also interested. The road doesn’t stop. You just keep on grinding and I’m going to keep on being an inspiration to the youth in Kansas City and being a youth leader and mentor.”
The Star’s Tod Palmer contributed to this story.