Adam Cox flashed a nervous smile when the dozens of microphones and cameras were shoved into his face before practice Tuesday.
That’s probably because the only things he’seen that up close in the past two years were a face full of opponents’ jerseys and helmets.
Cox, a stout blocking fullback for the Iowa Hawkeyes, has gone from zero to hero in a matter of days. Cox didn’t play a down in 2012, has played three games this season and has yet to carry the ball. But on a team that’s averaging nearly 300 yards rushing per game and boasts one of the country’s leading rushers, No. 37 for the Iowa Hawkeyes is suddenly getting a whole new level of respect and notoriety.
Oops, make that No. 38. Sorry, Adam.
As uncomfortable as Cox might be with the sudden spotlight, the plethora of questions, the invasion of privacy and the like, his play on the field has been anything but nervous. He’s listed at 5 feet 11 inches, but that’s inches generous even with his helmet and cleats on. His stocky stature is perfectly suited for his job of submarining opposing linebackers and opening holes for Mark Weisman, who is third in the nation in total yards rushing with 425. If blocking stats were measured like putts in golf, Cox would be making bombs from all over the place. Cox and Co., which includes the offensive line and fellow fullback and roommate Macon Plewa, have opened holes so big that Wesiman is embarrassed to say how fast (or slow) he is. The Hawks have run the ball 160 times in three games this season and have lost 13, yes, 13 yards.
“It’s not the Mark Weisman story but its kind of like that, some guy who walked on from Chicago,” coach Kirk Ferentz said. “We were never sure he would be big enough. We talked about trying to plug him in at linebacker or something like that. He impressed me as much as anybody in the spring. Whatever he weighs at that point he uses it.”
Like Weisman, Cox is a walk-on player from Illinois who worked his way up the depth chart. Even though he ran the ball a lot at Stillman Valley High School in Chana, Ill., for now, he’s content to do most of his work empty-handed.
“I don’t know what the future holds, but I’ll just work hard now and hope something happens,” Cox said. “I’m fine with what I’m doing now, blocking and hitting people.”
And if the Hawks keep averaging nearly 300 yards rushing per game Cox will need to be fine facing the cameras and answering a whole lot more questions.