Long Journey May Have a Happy Ending for Cox

Ever since his senior year at Los Angeles Cathedral HS, Rodney Cox has been on a mission to prove doubters wrong. One of the best safeties in the west in 2004 was left with no scholarship offer, and walked-on to ASU. His hard work earned him a scholarship with the Sun Devils, and his fine performance this spring is granting him a starting spot in his last year with the maroon and gold.

In an interview to Devils Digest back in 2004, Rodney Cox was certain about his future impact with Arizona State. "I don't want to sound conceded or anything like that, but I'm confident in my abilities," he said. "I don't mind walking-on, opening some eyes, and proving myself. I'm motivated to show all those schools that they made a mistake not offering me a scholarship…that's OK, I'm ready to go to Arizona State and do what I have to do."

The 6-1 215 safety didn't redshirt his freshman year, a rarity for a walk-on. His special teams play was too invaluable for the coaches to let him stay on the sidelines. Consequently, he was able to shed the walk-on label after one year and get a full ride. An injury forced him to redshirt his sophomore year, and the following year he still wasn't able to crack the rotation at safety.

As a junior, mainly due to an injury suffered by starter Josh Barrett, Cox was thrown into battle often. He started the last two games of the 2007 season and was frequently inserted as reserve. Consequently, he collected 22 tackles which was three more than his total number of tackles his first two years.

"Starting last year gave me a confidence boost and coaches told me just to keep working hard and good things will happen," he said. "I believe good things happen to good people."

By the coaches' request, Cox was ordered to slim down from his last season's playing weight of 225 pounds down to 215. He believes he's faster than last season, even though he hasn't been officially timed yet. "When the weight goes down the 40 time goes down too," he claimed smiling.

Cox stated that the defense, on the heels of a fairly successful 2007 campaign, is currently playing with more confidence. Nonetheless, even though this group has been giving the offense fits for most of the spring, he and his teammates won't feel complacent. "We know we have to get better all the time," he noted, "keep on working hard and try to be the best defense in the nation. To do that you have to get better all the time."

These days he and the secondary are starting to contend with ASU's new passing game which features four wide receiver sets. The recipe for success, according to Cox, is to maintain focus. "We just read the quarterback, read our keys and read the ball," he explained. "If we do all that we'll be alright."

His strong play these days, doesn't affect Cox's cheerful demeanor. His personality allows him even to be stress free over the strong competition at the safety position, keeping in mind that hard work will be rewarded.

"You have Jeremy Payton, Jarrell Holman, you can never sleep on guys," he said. "If I'm not having a good practice and they are, then they will move up in the depth chart. We're always making each better, and if Jeremy makes a good play I will congratulate him. If Jarrell makes a good play I will congratulate him. We show a lot of love to each other."

Many seniors feel a strong of urgency to produce in the last stint as a Sun Devil. With the uphill battle Cox has fought for several years now, no one would blame him for having those sentiments. But the safety is extremely pragmatic in nature, and simply has the desire to play well regardless of his eligibility status.

"I'm just playing ball, doing what I need to do and making plays," he said. "I'm just playing and working hard. All coach asks for is for me to make plays, so that's what I'm doing. Nothing else."

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