Chandler Cox is listed as one of the top fullbacks in the country, but his versatility knows few bounds on the offensive side of the football.
Cox — a 6-foot-2, 220-pound recruit — primarily plays quarterback for his high school team in Apopka, Fla. He also lines up at H-back, slot receiver, takes on long-snapping duties and does pretty much anything else that’s asked of him.
“I just play all over the place, wherever the team needs me to play,” he told the Herald-Leader. “If I’m on the field, then I love it.”
Kentucky’s coaches have told him he can play just about wherever he wants if he signs with the Wildcats for the class of 2015.
Cox has scholarship offers from several Southeastern Conference powers. Alabama wants him, as does Auburn. Many recruiting observers consider Florida the favorite, but Cox said there’s no one school that’s sticking out to him at the moment.
He did acknowledge a list of five favorites that includes those three programs, Tennessee and Kentucky.
Cox has developed a great relationship with running backs coach Chad Scott and fondly remembers UK’s coaching staff as the first to notice his potential.
“Kentucky was my first offer, and ever since the beginning Kentucky has always been high on my list,” he said. “They were the first ones to recognize my talents, which is really special to me.
“I love all of the coaches there. Coach Stoops — I know he’s got something going up there. He’s changing the program, and they’re going to be good.”
Cox made his first visit to Lexington last month. He took a tour of the city and the campus — “I loved it all,” he said — and he also got a good look at what’s in store for the future of the program. The new football facilities and renovations to Commonwealth Stadium were a major part of UK’s recruiting pitch, and Cox liked what he heard.
He also got to see the place where a relative blossomed into one of Kentucky’s greatest all-around athletes.
Ellis Johnson — Cox’s great-great-uncle — was the star player of the undefeated Ashland basketball team that won the state title over Carr Creek in four overtimes in 1928, still one of the most famous games in Kentucky’s history.
Johnson later became the first athlete to letter in four sports at UK — football, basketball, baseball and track. He was an All-American for Adolph Rupp in 1933 before becoming the head basketball and football coach at Morehead State, where the basketball arena is named in his honor.
“It’s a big deal for me,” Cox said. “He did big things at Kentucky and then later in his life too. I think that’s really cool.”
Cox still has family in the Ashland area and is looking forward to another visit to UK this summer. His mother didn’t accompany him on his first trip to Lexington, and he wants her to see the place where he could end up playing college football.
He hopes to make that decision sometime before his senior season. The two biggest factors will be a good relationship with the coaches and a chance to get on the field early.
It sounds like UK has sold him on both.
“They tell me I can come in there and definitely make an impact early,” he said. “They would move me all around — H-back, running back, Wildcat quarterback, receiver, tight end, special teams. They definitely have a good plan for me.
“They’re great guys, and they just want to win. And I know that they’re on the right track right now.”
Note: This is the third installment of a new feature that will look at one UK football recruit every week. Check the Next Cats blog next Monday for a story on another one of the Cats’ top targets for the class of 2015.