Why Joe Cox Is Not Another D.J. Shockley
Joe Cox is not Matthew Stafford.
He's not going to be Tee Martin, winning a national championship the year after Peyton Manning left Tennessee.
And, by God, he's not D.J. Shockley.
Cox, the fifth-year Bulldog quarterback who sat and watched as Stafford became a Georgia legend, is now at the helm and behind center in Athens.
And while the comparison of Cox to Shockley, who sat for three years behind legend David Greene before leading the Bulldogs to an SEC championship in his only season as a starter, is running rampant in the media and in the fan base, it's not something Cox has grown weary of.
"I don't get tired of it. I hope it happens," Cox said. "He's definitely a guy I look up to, and I hope I have a senior season like he had."
Cox was behind Stafford for all these years—but he was also behind Shockley during that 2005 SEC championship year. The two have stayed in touch over the years, and, as soon as Stafford announced his early departure for the NFL, Cox reached out to Shockley, now a backup quarterback for the Atlanta Falcons.
"He asks about what to expect, and my general thing was just take everything one day at a time," Shockley said in a phone interview. "You can't look at it and get overwhelmed because you only have this one year and you're replacing whoever. You've been playing football your whole life, and you know what to do."
Added Cox: "I've talked to him quite a few times, not to call him to ask him about things necessarily or learn things, but just knowing that there's a guy who went through the same situation I have to go through. It's just good having somebody you can talk to about anything."
Shockley took the Bulldogs to the SEC title in his season, and while it won't be impossible for Cox—whose inner fire and outer leadership burn as brightly as his red hair—to do the same, the odds are stacked against him.
Shockley didn't have to compete for the Eastern Division crown against a Florida team that had won two of three national titles, was the overwhelming favorite to win a third, and boasts arguably the greatest college quarterback, if not players, ever.
Shockley had the experienced Thomas Brown at tailback and veteran receivers to work with, and a Georgia defense that still had its swagger working for him.
Cox has inexperienced running backs; A.J. Green, Michael Moore and a whole lot of unproven talent at receiver; and a defense that's trying to regain its power after an abysmal 2008. Shockley played in plenty of series as a change-of-pace type threat before becoming the starter.
While Cox's heroics in the 2006 Colorado game are well-documented (against a Buffalo team that finished 2-10, mind you), most of his field time since then has been in mop up duty.
In his first season as a starter, Cox is taking Shockley's advice and not thinking too big.
"Personally I just want to be the best leader I can be and I just want to put my team in position to win games," he said. "I don't care, there are no statistics that I'm worried about. It's not something that's ever bothered me or something I've been thinking about."
Cox and Shockley have vastly different playing styles, and Cox likely won't lead the Bulldogs to a title this season. But maybe the two are just a little similar.
"He is kind of like me, a laid back guy, and he's a born leader," Shockley said. "I respect guys that come in, work hard, and put in their time."
And Cox has certainly done that.
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