Rachel Kirkpatrick

Southside Academy linebackers and big-hitting cousins Kevin Bowie and A.J. Cox have been competitive since their preschool days

Crunching cousins


October 04, 2006|By Lem Satterfield | Lem Satterfield,Sun reporter

Southside Academy linebackers Kevin Bowie and A.J. Cox were separated by only a few feet during a recent practice as they recounted a fierce rivalry that has existed for as long as they can remember.

"I remember when Alvin was turning 3 years old - yes, I call him Alvin even though he doesn't like it - and he started crying because his mother put his hand in the birthday cake," said Bowie, who smiled as looked at his first cousin. "That's the first time I realized he was a little wimp like that."

Cox chuckled but didn't say a word. Instead, he listened as Bowie told yet another story - this one involving the boys as 5-year-olds playing outside. When Cox split his pants, Bowie laughed and teased him, leading to a fistfight.

"A.J. was lucky his mother sent me home," said Bowie, 18. "Or else I might have hurt him."

"He's telling the truth - I was a little wimp - that is, until I realized my true manliness and started beating Kevin up," said Cox, 17, then recalling a recent practice when he knocked Bowie to the ground. "We were doing a drill called `Machine Gun.' No. 31 [Cox's number] hit Kevin in the chest, and, next thing you know, he's on his butt."

Bowie laughed and avoided making eye contact.

"Am I lying, Kevin? If I'm lying, then say it," Cox said. "You know it's the truth."

Jaguars senior Steven Jones has witnessed many exchanges between Bowie and Cox, with whom he played in the Rosedale unlimited league starting at age 13.

"Every week they compared stats, seeing who was better at this or that," said Jones, a two-way lineman. "They've been feeding off of each other that way for as long as I've known them."

Known as "The Hitting Cousins," Bowie will brag to second-year coach Adrian Mobley about being 1 inch taller (6 feet 2 to 6-1), leg-pressing 565 pounds to Cox's 530, and running a 4.59-second 40-yard dash to his cousin's 4.65. Cox will counter that he can bench-press 265 pounds to Bowie's 245, and he carries a 3.0 grade point average to Bowie's 2.9.

"Be it politics, weightlifting or whether Jamal Lewis or Shaun Alexander is the NFL's best running back - they'll argue seemingly forever," said Mobley, whose Jaguars (2-2) meet Baltimore City Division II rival Walbrook (4-0) on Friday night at Poly. "It gets so intense that sometimes you need to blow a whistle. But they've won't get into physical fights - they love each other too much."

Each of the 225-pounders has a goatee that extends upward into sideburns. Cox has a round face, hazel eyes and hair trimmed close to his scalp. Bowie has more of an angular face and dark eyes. Unlike Cox, Bowie has regrown the dreadlocks the cousins shaved off as a requirement of their eighth-grade Junior ROTC program.

Cox is the more scientific of the two, having won awards in elementary and middle school for two of his projects.

"On my bedroom floor, I used to make small cities with Hot Wheel cars and stuff," said Cox, who would like to major in civil engineering in college. "But building volcanoes was always my favorite - I used to like to watch them blow."

Cox said he has a more explosive personality and that "sometimes Kevin has to calm me down."

"I'm a creative person," said Bowie, who once had a folder stuffed with drawings. "There were cartoons of athletes like football players and professional wrestlers. I don't write as much poetry, but I'm still a fan of it."

The personalities extend to the field, where Bowie is creative, and Cox is direct.

Bowie favors San Diego's LaDainian Tomlinson, whom he called "a shifty back who scores lot and makes everything he does look so pretty." Cox wears jersey No. 31, which is also worn by the Ravens' Lewis, "a tough, hard runner no one can bring down," Cox said.

"A.J. is more of a run-stopping linebacker who will run through a brick wall and try to crush everybody on every play," said Mobley. "Kevin is more of a sideline-to-sideline type. He has more of that glamour thing, and is more of a finesse player."

During Mobley's 11 games as coach, Bowie has rushed for 879 yards and 11 touchdowns and passed for 847 yards and eight more scores. Meanwhile, Cox, considered the better linebacker prospect, has totaled 21 sacks and rushed for 553 yards and seven touchdowns.

The tandem made a believer out of Coach Eric Woodson, whose Northwestern Wildcats lost to the Jaguars, 28-18, on Friday.

Bowie rushed for 100 yards and two touchdowns, and passed for 90 yards and a 45-yard score to Richard Williams. Cox made six of his 15 tackles behind the line of scrimmage, had two sacks, recovered a fumble, caused a fumble that was returned 40 yards for a touchdown by Tahja Edmonds, and made the block that sprang Bowie for one of his scores.

"[Bowie] is a hard runner who crushed us last year just like this year. We had trouble bringing him down," Woodson said. "[Cox] was all over the field, shooting the gaps. We couldn't block him."

Until last week, Bowie's best game had been in a victory over Digital Harbor, when he threw two touchdown passes.

But college recruiters witnessed Cox's season-opening effort in a loss to Forestville of Prince George's County, when he rushed for 96 yards, including a 60-yard touchdown, registered a sack and made 12 tackles, six by himself. Schools such as Maryland, Penn State and Syracuse have since requested Cox's videos.

"They put A.J. at nose guard against us and he was a beast," Forestville assistant Evan Murray said. "As a fullback, he ran a touchdown against us, and we have a fast kid who is committed to Maryland who didn't catch him. We have a kid who is ranked the No. 17 tight end in the country, and A.J. ran him down and smacked him.

"I've called [Maryland assistant recruiting coordinator] Jemal Griffin about him," Murray said, "and I've been calling every coach in the country that I know about him. He's a gem that people need to know about."


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