Connor Cox details rise in football; guiding Fighting Scots wide-receiver room

Category:  Sports
Wednesday, December 1st, 2021 at 10:01 AM
Connor Cox details rise in football; guiding Fighting Scots wide-receiver room  by Nate Steis
Photo by Sherry Magill

EDINBORO - The game of football may have been one that Connor Cox started in just the eighth grade, but the gridiron has become a place he wants to take his career. 

It took only five years of playing the game for him to go from first-year football player to starting varsity quarterback, team-captain, and an All-County Honorable Mention. Despite some success as a high school quarterback, baseball was his number one sport for many years. 

Travel baseball consumed his life growing up and was his primary sport, heading into his college days. After talking with the Westminster College football coaches after committing to play baseball for the Titans, he decided he would give college football a chance as well. 

He would go from practice team player in his first few weeks to one of the best offensive players to play football for the Titans in their storied history. However, the wide-out did not do this as a big framed wide-receiver or as someone who continually took the top off of the defense. What worked for him was watching small, fundamental receivers who came before him so he knew how to get open, find the soft spot in coverage, and attack the football in the air.  

“My mentality was I just needed to go make the play,” Cox said. “I just told myself I was better than the person trying to make the play on defense, and that worked for me. It would have been nice to be a freak athlete and be 6’3”, but I was not blessed with that. I watched a lot of Ryan Switzer when he was at North Carolina and Julian Edelman to see how they found success as small receivers.” 

At 5’10”, what Cox lacked in size, he made up for in heart. His desire to play and improve was something that helped him become a focal point in the Titans offense in both his junior and senior seasons of college. He went from catching nine balls as a freshman to finishing his career with the most receptions in the history of Westminster football with 151. 

He also sits in second place for the most receiving yards in program history (2,169), has the second most receptions in a season in program history (65), is second in program history for touchdown grabs in a season (12), and has the second most receiving yards in a season in program history (964). In his final two seasons of college football, Cox would catch 118 passes for 1,740 yards, and 14 touchdowns. 

Three times he would earn All-Presidents Athletic Conference (PAC) honors while earning a letter in each of his four seasons with the team. He fulfilled a goal he had to play college baseball as he was a two-year member of the Titans baseball program. Overall, he played in 52 games and made 38 starts as an outfielder. He collected 28 hits, scored 16 runs, and had 14 runs batted in. 

While he went to college to play college baseball primarily, burnout from playing hundreds of games throughout many summers finally caught up to him. This and a loss in the Maryland state baseball playoffs in the state semifinals in extra innings and in walk-off fashion was enough for Cox to decide to walk away from the game after two full seasons. However, the largest overarching reason for leaving college baseball was he fell in love with the grind and the camaraderie that is Westminster Titans football. 

“It is a tough road being a Westminster football player,” Cox said. “It’s a winning atmosphere, culture, and tradition. Playing there can be really intense and detailed. However, it is an amazing culture that expects to win. Coach Bentzel and his staff have done a great job there.” 

Cox finished up his degree in Criminal Justice Studies from Westminster in May 2020 and hoped to fulfill a dream of working as a state police officer and later in the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), but COVID-19 had other plans in mind for him. What he did was re-evaluate his goals and what truly made him happy. 

He returned to Leonardtown High School and served as an assistant football coach for one season, but he felt like something was missing in his life. This something was the feel of college football and being in a college town. After a call from his college offensive coordinator Rich Demaio, the current offensive coordinator for Edinboro, it was decided that Cox would head back to school and would enter the world of coaching. 

Presently, Cox serves as the Graduate Assistant Wide Receivers coach for the Fighting Scots and has enjoyed the leap from coaching high school to making a difference in a Fighting Scots football program that won its final three games of the 2021 season. 

“Everyone knows there’s a hierarchy you have to go through in college coaching,” Cox says. “Everyone was a GA or at the bottom of coaching at one point. There have been some really long days, but also some great experiences that will help me come out of Edinboro with a master’s degree and enter the world of coaching full time after that.” 

Without the help of Indiana University of Pennsylvania Asst. Head Coach, Recruiting Coordinator, and Wide Receivers Coach Mike Box, Cox does not believe he would have become the wide receiver he was or had enough knowledge to enter the college ranks as a coach. Box was a former coach for Westminster in Cox’s first three years as a Westminster football player. 

“Him and I have a great relationship,” Cox said. “He really taught me everything I know and from watching him coach, I knew what kind of role model and coach I wanted to be.” 

Cox credits his parents Terri and Sean Cox for being two of his biggest mentors and supporters throughout his playing and now coaching career. 

Cox will graduate from Penn West in May 2023 with a Master of Arts in Communication Studies degree. Now, he continues to prepare for the Fighting Scots 2022 spring football season while enjoying the Baltimore Ravens and Penn State football games. 

It was an unlikely rise in college football for the Maryland native, but regardless, Connor Cox is hopeful his rise in football is only just beginning. He has big plans for his coaching career. 

Nate Steis, Sports Editor and Graduate Assistant | @EdinboroNow  

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