UW Health Sports Medicine 

Billy Marek

Billy Marek

The three-time, first-team, all-Big Ten running back wasn't recruited to play high school football because he had Osgood Schlatter disease (a knee ailment that affected teenagers) and didn't play seventh and eighth grade football.

The 5-foot-8 Marek carried the ball only once as a freshman at the UW, then put together three consecutive 1,200-yard seasons. In danger of falling shy of 1,000 yards in 1974 after missing nearly three full games with injuries, Marek rushed for 704 yards in the final three games, including 304 and five touchdowns in a 49-14 rout of Minnesota. His play earned him Sports Illustrated's national offensive back of the week honors.

Marek was at the center of an April Fool's Day joke played by Wisconsin State Journal columnist Tom Butler in 1975. Butler wrote a tongue-in-cheek piece about moving the Big Ten's leading rusher to the defensive secondary for his senior season. The article ended with the phrase, 'April Fools!' Unfortunately, wire service reporters did not make it to the last line, and called head coach John Jardine's house for confirmation. The AP eventually moved the story on its national wire for about a half-an-hour before the hoax was discovered.

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