Against run, Gilman's Cox is stopper

December 02, 1990|By Sam Davis Defensive Player of the Year THE SUN'S 1990 ALL-METRO FOOTBALL TEAM

When Gilman coach Sherm Bristow gets request for tapes of standout linebacker Jamal Cox, he sends the video of the Greyhounds' season-opening, 31-12 loss to then-nationally ranked DeMatha.

Most times, when a coach gets a request for game film, he sends games his team dominated, not the other team.

But against DeMatha, Cox, The Sun's Defensive Player of the Year, was a one-man wrecking crew, and despite the lopsided score, he caught the attention of DeMatha coach Bill McGregor.

"I thought he was an outstanding player," McGregor said. "He was all over the field. It was our opener and their opener. I thought he went side to side with great intensity. He's a heck of a football player. I was just telling the Stanford coach [Dennis Green] about him. He is a great high school football player."

Cox, 6 feet 2, 221 pounds, says he doesn't remember much about that game because of the outcome. "I don't think I played that well," he said. "They were sort of marching up and down the field on us."

But that would be the last time a team would handle Gilman's defense that easily. Gilman allowed just 68 points in its final eight games, going 7-2.

With Cox leading the way, Gilman tied Poly for the Maryland Scholastic Association A Conference title and finished No. 4 in The Sun's final top 20 poll.

Cox had four interceptions, was in on a team-best 158 tackles, including a remarkable 57 percent of opponents' running plays from his middle-linebacker spot. As a fullback, he rushed for 400 yards and was the lead blocker for Ed Trusty, who ran for 1,216 yards and scored 17 touchdowns.

No running back ran for more than 100 yards against Gilman all season, including Forest Park's Obie Barnes Jr., Loyola's Brad Hoag, Cardinal Gibbons' Eugene Marshall and Poly's Frank Johnson, all of whom gained 800 yards or more this season.

That statistic is a direct tribute to Cox.

"In our scheme of things, he matched up with all up with all the key offensive personnel of our opponents," said Bristow.

Cox made a name for himself as both a thinker and a hitter. Ask Forest Park's Barnes, who took one hard hit from Cox that drove the Foresters star back nearly 20 yards out of bounds onto the track that surrounds the field.

Ask Poly quarterback Albert Tyler, who was shaken up and had to be taken out of the game for a few plays after Cox met him shoulder pad-to-shoulder pad at the goal line to keep Tyler from scoring on a two-point conversion.

"He was clearly seen by all our kids as our best player," Bristow said. "Defensively, he was a rock-solid, hard-hitting, aggressive linebacker who made all the key hits and all the big plays."

Cox, who also starts for the school's basketball and baseball teams, also called defensive signals for Gilman. He worked closely with longtime Gilman defensive coordinator Nick Schloeder.

Schloeder, who has been coaching in the Baltimore area since 1955, may have paid Cox his biggest compliment when he compared Cox to Baltimore Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke and Baltimore State's Attorney Stuart O. Simms at similar stages. Schmoke played quarterback at City, and Simms was a running back at Gilman.

"He [Cox] is a remarkable young man," said Schloeder. "We've had some wonderful linebackers, but he is the best linebacker we've ever had in this last decade. He is as good as we have ever had. I can't say he is the best ever, but he is awfully good."

So far, Cox, who is vice president of the school's student athletic association, has committed only to a visit Georgia Tech. Several major colleges, including Virginia, Southern Cal, Penn State, Syracuse and Nebraska, are making their pitches.

"He's been contacted by everybody," said Bristow.

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