Right from the start Mark Dennis, who had played on two conference championship teams at Washington High School, was on target for major things in the world of big time football.
As a 6-foot-5, 275 pounder at the University of Illinois, he was quickly put on the two-deep offensive line chart in the first week of his freshman year, the 1983 season, by coach Mike White.
After four years of being a vital part of the lllini forward wall and two bowl games, there came 10 seasons in the National Football League with the Miami Dolphins, Cincinnati Bengals and Carolina Cougars.
Playing for John Venturi at Washington, Dennis played on teams that won the then Mid-State 10 in 1981 and the Mid-Illini Conference the following year.
The Champaign News-Gazette, Chicago Tribune and Chicago Sun-Times selected him to their all-state teams and he also was included in the Adidas prep All-American team.
He was a four year starter at Illinois, played in the 1983 Rose Bowl game and the 1984 Peach Bowl game. In his four years, the Illini went 27-18-1.
He was regarded as having excellent pass blocking drills by the lllini and he also excelled in the classroom, making the Big Ten All-Academic team.
Drafted in the eighth round by the Miami Dolphins, he played seven years for coach Don Shula, one year for Cincinnati and Dave Shula and wound up his career with two years in Carolina for coach Dom Capers.
He played for Miami against Buffalo in an American Football Conference title game and for Carolina against Green Bay in a National Conference title game. He retired after the 1996 season.