Against the Aggies on a Saturday night, the game commentators said that Auburn fullback Chandler Cox is the guy that nobody talks about and nobody will write articles about the guy. So, here I am wanting to highlight a guy that rarely gets any credit.
When the Auburn Tigers won the national title in 2010 with quarterback Cam Newton, they slipped pretty quickly after that. Then head coach Gene Chizek couldn’t stop the program from falling apart. The coming devastation was easily visible in their opening game when they barely beat a very average Utah State at home. Then, they finished their season with an 8-5 record.
The following season was one of the worst in Auburn history with an embarrassing 3-9 finish. Obviously, they fired Gene Chizek with the program falling apart as it was. Their offensive coordinator in 2010 was Gus Malzahn who left after the 2011 season to take the job at Arkansas State. Malzahn was viewed nationally as one of the up and coming coaches around the country after leading the Arkansas State Red Wolves to a 9-3 record and with his familiarity with Auburn, he was an easy choice.
Everybody remembers his first season at Auburn when the Tigers shocked the nation with a brilliant run. They won the SEC and came within a few seconds of upsetting the favored Florida State Seminoles in the national championship game.
On that super 2013 team, Malzahn inherited a huge fullback by the name of Jay Prosch from Mobile, Alabama. Prosch was a huge 6-0, 260 fullback that was physically ripped to the bone and was an outstanding blocker. The Houston Texans drafted him in the 2014 NFL draft and he’s still on their roster.
Very few coaches on today’s college football teams even use a fullback and a guy like Jay Prosch was a throwback to a different era, only he was much bigger and physical.
On Malzahn’s 2014 team, they really didn’t have a super talented fullback like Prosch and he was apparently determined to get another. He hadn’t signed one in his 2014 recruiting class.
But, he searched far and wide and came up with another in his 2015 class.
Chandler Cox signed with the Auburn Tigers out of Apopka, Florida as a 3 star tight end/H-back. That 2015 recruiting class included two 5 stars in defensive end Bryan Cowart and athlete Kerryon Johnson. Cowart is already gone, having asked for a transfer.
The class also had 16 4 star prospects, and then there were the 3 stars which numbered 9.
The 6-1, 227 Chandler Cox was never going to blow any recruiting services away. But, he did show Jay Prosch type of qualities in his blocking. Apopka, Florida runs a strange offense and Cox was often called to take the direct snap and either hand the ball off, or throw it. He also played the blocking back out of the backfield and he had the size, quickness and athletic ability to get out in front of the runner and come up with the block needed to spring the runner for a big play.
You’d never know it from reading statistics on some internet site, but Chandler Cox moved right into the starting lineup as a true freshman in game one. He is the Auburn fullback, which should be called the Jay Prosch position. Cox is not quite as beefy as Prosch, but he’s slowly putting on the muscle. Listed at 227 as a recruit, he’s up to around 240 now.
He’s actually seen the football a little more than Prosch under Malzahn with his best season coming in 2016 when he carried the football 7 times in short yardage situations and he caught 4 passes.
His biggest use will always be as a blocker and he’s so good that he might have the same shot as Jay
Prosch at an NFL career.
Some coaches are still smart enough to use a fullback. Emmitt Smith, the NFL’s all time leading rusher will give some of his credit to the offensive line and to his fullback, Moose Johnston. At LSU, Leonard Fournette always gave praise to the fullback in front of him, John David Moore. Before Moore, the Tigers used Connor Neighbors.
The Nebraska Cornhuskers always famously used the fullback, and old school coaches like Jim Harbaugh still use one. The Wisconsin Badgers are as old school as they come and they still use a fullback.
But, nationwide, the fullback is a dying position right now.
It’s up to coaches like Gus Malzahn and players like Chandler Cox to keep the fullback position alive and well. The next time you watch an Auburn game, take notice of number 27 in Auburn’s backfield and watch him block for the ball carrier and in pass protection.
He’s really good at what he does.