By Matt Popchock
Jeannette safety Demetrious Cox (6’1″, 186 lbs.), the No. 7 prospect in America at his position according to MaxPreps, verbally committed to Michigan State during the 6:00 P.M. newscast on KDKA-TV Monday.
Although Cox was recruited locally, he seemed to have his heart set on the Big Ten, a conference which certainly has strong ties to his school. Within the Big Ten, he was also offered by Iowa, Penn State, Ohio State, and Wisconsin, in addition to the Spartans.
In case you missed it, here’s what Cox had to say to our own Bob Pompeani:
Cox was one of the most highly-regarded defensive players in the WPIAL as a senior, and in 2011 he also quarterbacked the Jayhawks to the Interstate Conference title and first WPIAL Class AA Final appearance since 2007, when fellow Big Ten recruit and local legend Terrelle Pryor led them to state gold (Pryor spent last year in the NFL as a backup quarterback for the Oakland Raiders). He gained nearly 2,000 all-purpose yards, including 1,180 on the ground, and led the team in scoring with 23 TD’s.
With Cox roaming the secondary, Jeannette ranked No. 6 in its classification with just 12.6 points allowed per game, and enjoyed the 16th perfect season in program history, which is the most by any WPIAL team. He made both the Post-Gazette Fabulous 22 and the MaxPreps U.S. Air Force Small Schools All-American Team as a defensive back, ranking No. 133 overall on that site–interestingly, three spots behind South Allegheny tight end and Penn State recruit Jesse James, another great player from Class AA.
The sexual abuse scandal at Penn State soured Cox on the idea of joining James in Happy Valley. Not that new head coach Bill O’Brien couldn’t have whipped him into shape, but right now Michigan State actually seems like a better fit. Cox, whether he plays immediately or not, can be a key contributor to a defensive unit that is already well-peopled and well-schooled.
MSU head coach Mark Dantonio is a reputable mentor. He deserves a lot of credit for helping turn the program at Cincinnati around, and as was the case with the Spartans, the defensive-minded Dantonio has made them a tough team to score against. That was the driving force behind the Big Ten divisional championship they won this past season.
Michigan State’s pass defense allowed 177 yards per game in 2011, ranking No. 10 in the entire FBS (Division I). The Spartans ranked sixth nationally in overall defense. Cox can only make both better. A proverbial bull in a china shop, he can be Dantonio’s own Troy Polamalu: someone who can help with pass coverage, but also be an effective run blitzer.
In the meantime, while waiting to “Go Green,” Cox was selected as a member of the East team in the inaugural Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl at the beginning of the month, and he has also been playing out his last season as a forward on Jeannette’s basketball team.
Cox is averaging around 17 points a game for the Jeannette boys, who entered Tuesday 6-3 in AA-Sec. 4, good for third place, and 10-6 overall.
(Follow me on Twitter: twitter.com/mpopchock)