Overview: Dakota Cox is a senior who played linebacker for the University of New Mexico. He was a three-time team captain. He also made school history by leading his school in team tackles for all four years in college. He is a great tackler who also has a high football I.Q. During his college career, he had a total of 403 tackles, 20.5 tackles for loss, seven sacks, and three interceptions.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Dakota, during which time he told me more about his background, his personality and his overall love for football.
C: For the people who do not know your story, how did you wind up choosing the University of New Mexico?
DC: In the summer of 2012, which was the summer before my senior year, my Dad and I did a cross country trek in which I attended 9 football camps in 13 days in pursuit of my first scholarship offer. The University of Cincinnati was one of those football camps I attended. After that camp I was offered a full ride scholarship. I committed to Cincinnati a few days later. During my senior season I got a call from Coach Cosgrove at New Mexico and he said that he just wanted to tell me that they really liked me down at UNM and that they would be there if anything happened with Cincinnati. A few days later, a piece of mail from New Mexico showed up at my house, it was a full ride scholarship. The scholarship was the only piece of recruiting mail I ever received from New Mexico. Still committed to Cincinnati, my senior season ended and a few weeks later I found out that the head coach at Cincinnati, Butch Jones, had accepted a job offer as the Head Coach at Tennessee. Not knowing what would happen with his absence and a with a new coaching staff being hired at Cincinnati, I decided to pursue my other scholarship offer from University of New Mexico. I took a visit to UNM and I flipped my commitment from Cincinnati to New Mexico the night I got home from my visit. I signed my Letter of Intent with the Lobos February of 2013 and the rest is history.
C: How do you plan on making yourself stand out and noticed by NFL scouts?
DC: Pro Day was a great opportunity to showcase my skills in front of a few NFL scouts. Putting up great times and scores, I am confident that what I did at Pro Day will supplement the four years of film as a starter at UNM that I have to back it up. Leading the Lobos in tackles four years straight, I believe that I can stand out to scouts as a very productive player that can be a great contribution to any team in the NFL.
C: What would you say are your strengths and weaknesses?
DC: I think one of my biggest strengths is that I pride my self on playing 100 miles per hour all the time and giving 100% effort all the time. That is something that my Dad instilled in me even at a young age. I believe that playing fast and physical are also strengths that accompany my game as a Linebacker and allow me to be the player I am today. I believe that one of my other strengths is my unique leadership abilities that allowed me to be voted a 3x Team Captain of the UNM football team. I also believe that leadership could also be thought of as a weakness for the sole fact that there is always many ways that I can be a better leader, and I look to continue to build on the things I have already learned in the past and continue to become a better leader to everyone around me.
C: What separates you from the other players at your position?
DC: Like I had mentioned before, I am a guy that gives 100% effort every play and I play whistle to whistle all the time. I think that another thing that separates me from others is my football IQ. I take pride in spending many hours in the film room trying to perfect my game which allows me to expand my knowledge for the game of football. I believe that football smarts combined with the effort that I give on each play is what helps separate me from others at my position.
C: When did you first fall in love with playing football?
DC: I first fell in love with football when I started playing pee wee football in third grade. It was something about the physicality and the comradery of being apart of a team that made me really made me love the sport. Ever since my first year of football in third grade, my love for the game has only grown.
C: Which current or former NFL player do you think you resemble and why?
DC: I believe that the way I play resembles the former Miami Dolphin Middle Linebacker, Zach Thomas. Thomas played with intensity all the time which allowed him to make plays all over the field. He was also a very smart football player with a high football IQ and loved studying the game of football. I believe that the way I play combined with being a smart football player most resembles Zach Thomas.
C: Who is the toughest player you’ve ever faced in your college career?
DC: A player that I had the opportunity to go head to head with many times was Jay Ajayi, who played Running Back for Boise State and now for the Miami Dolphins. He is a running back that was both physical and fast and could do some special things when he had the ball. I definitely think that he was a guy that jumps out to me a one of the toughest players I’ve had the pleasure of playing against.
C: How do you prepare for game day? Do you have any game day rituals?
DC: I don’t really have too many rituals, more of just doing the same routine of things every game. One ritual I do have though is that every game day, a little while before the game, I would head out to the field and walk around, feeling the turf or grass, and really just take everything in. After that I head back inside to the locker room and put on my pads and my eye black, always the same way, and get ready to play the game.
C: What is the most inspirational or powerful thing a coach has ever said to you in your college career?
DC: A quote that has been told to me by many coaches but has seems to be the one that always resonates in my mind is “Play every play like it’s your last”. This quote which is very widely used by many coaches, has made me look at the game of football differently. Every time I step on the field I try to take it all in and realize how blessed I am to have the opportunity to play the sport that I love. Although it is a well known quote, it is something that always gets me pumped up to play a game and will always be one of my favorite quotes.
C: What should people reading this interview know about you?
DC: I am a guy that will give the most effort I can all the time. I am someone that was not highly recruited coming out of high school and had to give dedication and hard work every day in order to get to where I am now. I am very disciplined and I know what it takes to be a great football player. I am a Linebacker that plays with intensity, drive and the will to win. I have a tremendous passion for the game and I do not take that for granted. I am a smart football player that will put the extra time in to everything I need to in order to be a significant contribution to any team that I am apart of.
Locker Room Update would like to thank Dakota Cox for taking the time to speak with us. We wish him the best of luck as he continues his journey as a professional football player.
You can check out his highlights here.
Christa is a syndicated New York Jets beat writer and acts as the primary talent scout for Locker Room Update, where she interviews college football players from around the nation. You can follow her author page on Facebook here for the latest updates.