As Cox tells it, he didn't lack for things to do or see while on the Farm.
"It was a great first day. I got up there and talked to Coach Anderson. He's recruiting me, has been to my school a couple of times and is coming back in spring.
"That first day, we met Condoleezza Rice. She talked to us about Stanford and how you can achieve more than you think you can. It was great to hear from her. We went and toured all the facilities and talked about the campus and the academic side of things. That was Friday.
"Saturday, we watched practice and met all the players. We talked to the coaches and sat in on a film session with the linebackers. It was great to hear from them and see how I would fit in. We had a player panel and were able to talk to them for their perspective on things like how they like Stanford to their majors to how they learn to manage time. It was definitely great for my first time up there.
"Another thing is that we had lunch with a few professors in the skybox overlooking the field. That was really cool. I talked to them and heard about programs, and the great things and research they're up to. It was a great time, a great experience and a beautiful campus. There's nothing bad to say. I couldn't find one thing bad to say about it."
As Cox mentioned, Lance Anderson is his main point of contact at Stanford. Anderson has discussed both academic and football considerations with Cox.
"He liked [my film] a lot," Cox said of Anderson. "He said it shows him that I have great ability to play for them at the next level. He's going to keep recruiting me and stay with me. He told me to camp this summer and they'd evaluate me from there, as well as in the spring. The first day, he said I was a great player and we'd like to have you play at Stanford. Hopefully down the road they'll offer, I'm hoping."
More on the offer situation in a moment, but should Stanford ask Cox to the dance, it seems he'd be in a good position academically.
"I have a 3.96 GPA on a four scale," Cox said. "I'm so close to a 4.0. We just ended the quarter and I think I got it up there. I am in the National Honor Society and an honor roll student every year, every semester, so academics are a big part of it for me. School comes first before athletics and my coaches tell me that. … I'll be taking more honors classes, try to score well on the ACT, and have to take APs next year, so it'll definitely be fun to take tough classes. Right now I'm in a couple of honor classes, so I just have to up it, keep it going and not get senioritis."
Now, back to offers. Cox reports interest from Oklahoma, Missouri, UCLA, Washington, Vanderbilt, Duke, San Diego State, Tulsa, Ohio and, before the coaching changes, Arizona and Washington State. Utah and Tulsa have invited Cox to their junior days, and he will also attend the ESPN Nike football training camp on April 1 in Los Angeles. However, when it comes to committable offers, Cox is like Drew Barrymore in that chick flick – never been kissed.
"Currently, I have no offers, but I'm hoping that comes soon and I'm thinking I'm pretty close," he said. "I'm just hoping that first one comes, and other schools will come along when they see that."
Some people are more believers in measurements, combines and tests; some put more stock in on- field productivity. If you're in the latter camp, Cox's high school career suggests he is an FBS-level player. (That he has college football lineage probably doesn't hurt the cause either. Dakota reports his father was USC's starting center from 1981-1985, and has a Rose Bowl ring to show for it.)
"Last year we ended in the second round of the playoffs," he said of his junior campaign at Juan Diego High (Draper, Utah). "We lost to a pretty good team, which is unfortunate because the three years before, we won State. I was part of two of those teams. I was elected captain, so right now I'm leading offseason workouts. During the season, I was First Team All-State and Region MVP, so it was a good season. I had 92 tackles, one sack and two interceptions.
"I'm versatile, and if you watch my film, you can see that I have a good knack for the ball, good play recognition. Coaches tell me that I have great speed to get where the ball is. I'm a hard hitter and have a great passion for the game."
Still, like any football player at any age, Cox continues to hone his craft. This reporter has become a big believer in CrossFit training, which focuses on dynamic exercises stressing functional strength and using one's whole body, such as box jumps and clean and presses, instead of bicep curls or shoulder presses. It was a revelation to learn that Cox is using the same principles to improve his athleticism.
"Definitely the main thing is to improve my strength, my speed – my 40, my side-to-side and shuttle – and improving on attacking the ball more. There's always a way to improve. I'm doing drills reacting to ball to get ready for the college level, just becoming a better player. I'm working out harder and training more. I've become bigger since freshman year, so I have an ability to hit harder and react quicker. Other than that, I'm doing training – CrossFit as well as boxing and football workouts at school, so there's a lot going on.
"I've definitely seen a lot of results from CrossFit. My old maxes in bench, power clean, squat – now I'm repping out at those old maxes. With my CrossFit trainer, I'm doing many different things, not just regular powerlifting. A lot of ab circuits, a lot of burpees. They're rough but they definitely pay off.
"There's other things from squats to cleans to a press circuit. A lot of pull ups and box jumps. It's different angles, working muscles you didn't even know you had. I come back sore in places I didn't know I could get sore. It's great, it's tough, I work hard whole time and can barely breathe after it, but it pays off. There's also boxing so that's reaction time and getting strength.
"In nine weeks, I've seen great increases. I told my trainer I wanted to gain, not lose, weight, and so I'm on a diet plan, eating constantly good food, and I've put on at least nine pounds. That's definitely great. I'm looking to get up to 230, maybe higher [from a current reported weight of 223]. I'm 6-foot-1 and hopefully will get some more there too. My dad is 6-foot-5, so that's a good sign. Another inch would be perfect for linebacker."
If the old adage about hard work paying off holds true, you have to figure Dakota Cox has a bright future ahead of him. The Bootleg wishes him all the best, and will continue to follow him and the rest of Stanford's 2013 recruits – same bat time, same bat channel.
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