SCOOBA - Justin Cox is having a lot of fun playing college football.
The former West Point quarterback that guided the Green Wave to back-to-back Class 5A state titles in 2009 and 2010, has gotten off to a good start to his collegiate career in the secondary for East Mississippi Community College.
“It’s pretty fun, making plays and all,” he said. “I just can’t wait to play again.”
In four games this season, Cox is seventh on the team in total tackles and leads the squad and state in interceptions with three. All three came in the season opening 34-30 victory over Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College.
Since then he’s continued to improve in every aspect of the game as a crucial role in the Lions defense.
“He’s been real important for us,” EMCC defensive backs coach Clifton Collins said. “He’s played a big part in all four victories. He’s very talented, smart, fast and makes a lot of plays.”
Cox says the biggest difference in lining up against the likes of Starkville and Oxford compared to the college game is the speed.
“The game is much faster,” he said. “That’s pretty much the main difference. You gotta be a lot smarter too.”
In his senior season under center for West Point, Cox, who initially signed with Mississippi State, threw for well over 1,000 yards and rushed for hundreds more. He has spent the better part of his career reading the defensive packages, and now as a safety, his role is similar only reversed.
“It hasn’t been real hard for him,” Collins said. “Most of the time at quarterback he was looking at the whole defense. It’s same thing when he’s playing safety as he was at quarterback, he’s just reading the offense now.”
Not only his is football IQ extremely high, Collins says he’s most impressed with Cox’ ability to make plays anywhere on the field.
“I knew he could run and jump, but that’s what I’ve been really impressed with,” said Collins.
EMCC, currently ranked No. 4 in the nation in the National Junior College Athletic Association football poll, has one of the most explosive passing offenses in the country, ranking third and averaging over 361 passing yards a game and fourth in total offense with over 500 yards on any given Thursday. Quarterback Bo Wallace has 1,406 passing yards and 10 touchdowns so far this season.
With Cox in the secondary, the Lions defense is equally as impressive, ranked in the top 25 in passing defense, giving up just 160-yards per game on average.
The Lions will look to keep their prefect record in tact when they host Coahoma Community College tonight in Scooba.
While the transition to the college game hasn’t been difficult, one thing Cox learned under West Point head coach Chris Chambless will stay with him as long as he’s on the football field.
“You have to always play hard and fast,” he said. “The same way I played in high school.”
And that means no celebrations after a victory, even if he has three interceptions in one game.
“I just went to sleep,” he said, “I was a little surprised (about the accomplishment). I just had to make plays. The coaches depended on me.”View more articles in: