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FOOTBALL: Cox follows lifelong dream, commits to UK

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Peach believes Cox has chance to play despite walk-on status

By John Herndon

Ross Cox has rushed the field many times at Commonwealth Stadium. If everything goes as planned, he won't have to do that again over the next four or five years.

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He plans on already being there if Kentucky records some big football victories.

Cox, an Anderson County High School senior, publicly announced last Thursday what had long been speculated that he was going to walk on to play football at the University of Kentucky.

“I have been going to UK games since I was two years old,” Cox said. “It just seemed like the right place for me to go. I thought about it and thought about it and just couldn't get UK off my mind. They are doing some great things over there.”

Cox will join at least six other in-state players who have announced they would walk on at UK and join what is already rated as a Top 20 recruiting class and perhaps the best in Wildcat history.

Among the top signees are John Hardin lineman Matt Elam, who Coach Mark Stoops signed despite a huge push from Alabama, and quarterback Drew Barker of Conner, ranked among the Top 10 nationally at his position. Barker chose Kentucky over South Carolina.

In a bit of irony, Cox intercepted Barker's final high school pass.

If there was a surprise in Cox committing to UK, it was in that the Associated Press first-team All-Stater did not receive an abundance of scholarship offers. “I had a lot of preferred walk-on offers, but no scholarships,” Cox said after his announcement.

Anderson coach Mark Peach smiled when asked about the lack of scholarship offers for the versatile Cox, who rushed for 665 yards and had 991 yards receiving while leading Anderson to the Class 5A semi-finals. He had 20 offensive touchdowns evenly split between running and catching.

Cox also returned three kickoffs for scores and returned an interception for six points.

“That is a great question,” Anderson coach Mark Peach smiled when asked about the lack of scholarship offers. “Neal (Brown, UK's offensive coordinator) has spoken to me about Ross on more than one occasion. He said they like his versatility and what he can do as a receiver and even as a tight end. He can block well, he runs to the ball and catches the ball well.

“A lot of the things we do are similar to what Neal is doing at Kentucky. There is some familiarity there. They feel he is going to fit their system well.”

NCAA rules prohibit any Wildcat coach from commenting on walk-ons until they are enrolled at the school and have officially joined the team.

As a preferred walk-on, Cox has been offered a spot on the team but will not receive any athletic scholarship money.

Peach believes Cox has an opportunity to be part of what many are predicting as a resurgence of Kentucky football. “There is a long list of people out there who have gone on to great things as a walk-on,” Peach said. “I was watching Georgia Tech last year and their best player by a mile was a young man named Robert Godhigh (who was named to several All-ACC teams). He did not receive a scholarship until his junior year. You watch Georgia Tech and wonder why it took that long for them to give him a scholarship. Sometimes it just works out that way.”

When it came time to make a decision, the love of the Big Blue won out in Cox's heart.

“I think he was like a lot of in-state kids,” Peach says. “He has always dreamed of playing at Kentucky. He has gotten to know Coach Stoops and Coach Brown. This is what he wanted to do.”

Cox just smiled when asked about those big moments in recent Wildcat history.

“I have rushed the field after every big win over there,” he said.

And he hopes to be part of many more.

 

Comment at www.theandersonews.com.