Cox Starts Next Chapter

Kennard Cox has been forced to grow up fast. Most people would look at a young man with two children and think that it would hinder him, but not Cox. His two young children have motivated him to get his degree and become a better man.

Buffalo Bills seventh-round draft choice Kennard Cox is a man of many faces.

There's the father, a man who has worked at a wide variety of jobs since he became a dad at 14.

There's the delightful personality, which includes letting his hair grow long into dreadlocks because he doesn't like to cut it.

There's the student, who graduated last year with a degree in communications.

There's the historian, the player with a good sense of his alma mater's football history after working in the University of Pittsburgh's sports information office and watching his cousin Torrie play for the Panthers from 1999-2002.

And there's the football player, who moved from wide receiver to cornerback and excelled as a two-year starter with 98 career tackles and helping Pitt produce the third best passing defense in the country last season.

"I enjoyed myself," Cox said of his college days. "I learned a lot and became a better man . . . I appreciate the support of everyone from the chancellor on down."

It's resulted in a chance to become a professional football player.

"It's an honor. I'm glad the Bills gave me a chance that I can play the game for a couple more years," he said.

Buffalo was one of five teams that showed some interest in Cox before he was selected with the next to last pick in the draft, joining Cleveland, Dallas, Green Bay and Miami.

But Cox is not disappointed he didn't have the chance to select his own team as a free agent.

"The good upside is that the Bills have only three [rookie] corners, so I got the majority of reps in mini-camp," Cox said. "I just appreciate going to camp and learning. It was a good process for me.

"This is not like college. If you don't know your playbook you'll be in trouble."

But, as mentioned above, Cox has always been a hard worker. Having to support a son at an age when most athletes are concerned about their Pony League statistics forces such conduct.

"After having a kid at 14 I got my mind right," Cox said. "It's a challenge. You can't say I'm a bad guy because [my son] made me a better person. He got me up. He makes me more responsible."

Becoming a professional football player, of course, would allow Cox to better care for his 8-year-old son, Quanard, and 2-year-old daughter, Kanaria.

"I want to give my kids what I didn't have growing up," Kennard said. "You can't make up time but you can try to be more responsible."

Perhaps the first sign of responsibility Cox showed at Pitt was when he moved from wide receiver to cornerback.

"Being young I was like ‘I don't know,'" he remembered. "But Coach [Paul] Rhoads taught me how to play the position.

"I felt improvement every year. Not just physically but mentally."

Part of that mental improvement came working with Pitt's sports information department, with duties including compiling statistics, looking up "last time it happened" historical data, and media relations.

"I learned a lot about the tradition at Pitt," Cox said. "It's amazing how many bowl games they've been to and all the All-Americans."

With this background, it is not surprising that Cox has become a great Pitt booster.

"The team is on the rise. Even though they'll be missing two great tackles next year there's a lot of talent coming back," he said.

"I can't wait for the season to start! I think Pitt will do well, as well as myself!"


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