Think of Taylor Cox as the anti-Jocques Crawford, and keep your fingers crossed that he remains the polar opposite of the hyped bust when he takes the field Saturday for Kansas University in its football opener against South Dakota State in Memorial Stadium, 6:06 p.m. kickoff.
Crawford came to Kansas as the junior-college player of the year, and he did nothing to lower fans’ expectations when he stated his goal for his first season under a KU helmet.
“The personal goal I set for myself is I would rush for 2,000,” Crawford said in advance of the 2008 season. He was fresh off running for 1,935 yards and 19 touchdowns for Cisco Junior College in Texas.
Crawford fell 1,768 yards short of his stated goal and transferred to Tennessee Tech, where in 11 games in 2010 he rushed for 582 yards between KU-bashing tweets.
Cox comes to Kansas from the College of the Siskiyous in Weed, Calif. You can’t get to Weed from here or from anywhere else. Charlie Weis found his way there, and Cox ultimately followed him to Lawrence. Crawford-like hype got lost somewhere in the woods of Northern California and never made the trip.
Cox rushed for 1,507 yards and 14 touchdowns in 10 games as a sophomore at Siskiyous. He holds the single-game rushing record with 326 yards against College of the Redwoods and holds career records for rushing yards (2,744) and touchdowns (31).
Asked about his record-breaking game, he was quick to point out, “It wasn’t against a very good team.”
Asked if he had set any personal goals, Cox sounded about as much like Crawford as AC/DC sounds like Joni Mitchell.
“Be assignment-correct and just get my jobs done to help the team win,” he said. “I haven’t really thought about statistical goals, as far as that goes. I’m just trying to get all the kinks out in practice so I can play a clean game this Saturday.”
Making the transition from junior college to the Big 12 presents many challenges, from learning the thicker playbook to facing bigger, faster defenders to a more demanding practice schedule and class workload.
“It is a lot to juggle, but it’s what we love to do,” said Cox, who does most of his running between the tackles. “We’re all definitely grateful for the opportunity.”