Mark Kozhaya- Born For This Purpose

[author image=”” ]Raphael Haynes, Atlanta, GA @mrcontroversy21[/author]




As we go over the details of the interview, he seems very excited but relaxed after a nice meal with his family. You can tell by his words he’s ecstatic about the interview but if you didn’t pay attention to his words, you would think this is just another day at the office. 

Mark Kozhaya is a senior offensive lineman for Whittier College. He was born and raised in Downey, California by his two parents and he has a younger brother. Sports has always been attached to Kozhaya since a very young age. In the Kozhaya’s household, there was always a game on whether football, baseball, or basketball. Kozhaya was a two-sport athlete in high school playing baseball and football but he never really got deep into football until his junior year. “I played baseball and football my freshman and sophomore year but always loved baseball more than football since I was five”,  explains Kozhaya, ” Once I had to choose between one or the other, I chose football because it was better for my future and that is when I devoted all my time and fell in love with football”,  says Kozhaya.

Kozhaya, standing 6’5″ weighing 315 pounds, displays his athletic ability on the football field. Nimble on his feet, he’s able to use his quickness to make the first block and then pull to block the second interior defender. Although he’s athletic and can move around like someone who’s 50 pounds lighter, Kozhaya believes his agility is not his greatest attribute. “My knowledge of the defense, reading the fronts and breaking down film is my best attribute”, says  the offensive lineman, “I’m also a technician. If the coach says take a six inch step, I’m taking a six inch step or if they want me to place my hand at the chest plate, I’m going to punch it there.” It’s evident on the field that he uses his hands well and able to shuffle or slide his feet to be in the best position. His favorite player to watch in the NFL is Tyron Smith, offensive tackle for the Dallas Cowboys. Yet it’s another player who reminds him of himself, “Joe Stayley, the left tackle for the San Francisco 49ers”, says Kozhaya.

Smith and Stayley are inspirations when it comes to making it to the next level but his father is second to none when it comes to the support. “My day has been there after games to help me out, pick me up after a loss and been to every game whether I started or not” explains Kozhaya. The senior is very appreciative of all the support and understands that is needed when going through the grind of a four-year career in college. There also is one other important part of Kozhaya’s young career and that is his high school head coach Jack Williams. “He really sat me down and said that I can become something special and made me really believe in myself”, exclaims Kozhaya. Because of the support, Kozhaya gives back by helping Williams in the summer by coaching the high school kids during summer practices the last two years.

Because of Williams, Kozhaya’s confidence rose and he believed that he could be one of the greats but his plan took a quick unexpected turn. Kozhaya, got a few looks and interest from division I schools but never received any letters. “I thought in my mind that I would be a D-1 kid, that was my mentality and I would practice and prepare like one but once signing day rolled by, I had nothing” states Kozhaya. It made him sit down and really think about what he wanted to do with his life. He got a call from Whittier College, a division III school, and it made him look at life through a different perspective. “They told me, look you’re going to get a great education when you come here and you can only be a football player for so long but a regular human being is for much longer”, remembers Kozhaya.

Although Kozhaya scored an academic scholarship to Whittier rather than an athletic scholarship, he earned his way into a National Bowl Game invite. The National Bowl is a bowl game for the top players in division II and III schools that will be played on December 4th, 2016 at Daytona Municipal Stadium in Daytona Beach, Florida. Needless to say, Kozhaya was vey excited when he got the news that he was invited to the National Bowl. “I was pretty excited to be looked at and found on a team in southern California which was in a rebuilding stage going 0-9 for these past two season”, says Kozhaya.  “It really lets me know I’m doing something right.”  His main goal is to make it to the next level whether its the NFL, Canadian Football League (CFL), or the Arena Football League (AFL). There will be 11 NFL scouts at the National Bowl so he will definitely get his chance to reach his goal.


The National Bowl will be broadcast live exclusively on The 3 Point Conversion Station/






The National Bowl will be broadcast live exclusively on The 3 Point Conversion Station/

Raphael Haynes

Atlanta, GA

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