When Demetrious Cox was 6 years old, he earned a black belt in karate.
Little did the Jeannette senior know that his outstanding karate skills would help him become one of the most highly recruited football players in the WPIAL this season.
Cox becomes the next on a long list of football players from Jeannette, one of the smallest high schools in Westmoreland County, to be recruited by Division I schools. The list includes in recent years Terrelle Pryor, Jordan Hall, Davonte Shannon, Michael Matt and Adam Locke.
“Karate helped my balance and (helped him) elude tacklers,” Cox said.
Cox, who plays quarterback and safety, has more than 30 offers from colleges, and he said the list is growing. He is being recruited as a defensive back.
“I like playing safety because I can be back there lurking, keeping things in front of me and coming up and making plays,” Cox said. “You also have to be physical.”
When he was a freshman, some Jeannette fans said Cox would be the next Pryor.
Although there are some similarities — like both are dual-threat quarterbacks — Jeannette coach Roy Hall said fans’ comments are unfair to both players.
“If you ask Demetrious, he didn’t want to be compared to Terrelle,” Hall said. “I told him to be himself because they are a lot different.
“I’m glad we have him. He’s one of the best athletes in the WPIAL.”
Cox agreed with his coach on the comparisons to Pryor.
“I’m doing my own thing and I’m trying to make my own marks with my team,” Cox said. “I’ve learned a lot from Terrelle and Davonte when we’ve worked out together. They worked hard and weren’t scared of anybody they face.”
Cox said he has offers from Pitt, Penn State, West Virginia, Ohio State and Maryland. Cox said some of the schools in Florida are expected to make offers.
In advance of the opening day of practice, Cox limited his final decision to 10 schools, including Pitt, Penn State, Ohio State, Michigan State, Wisconsin, Notre Dame, Arizona State, Kansas, Texas A&M and Texas Tech.
Among those left off his list were LSU, West Virginia, Texas, Michigan, Duke, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Arizona and Vanderbilt.
Cox also is an outstanding student, holding a 3.6 grade-point average.
“I’m looking for a school that has good academics because I need something to fall back on after I graduate,” Cox said. “I’m also looking for a program that I can make an impact my freshman year, maybe not as a starter, but come in and compete for a spot.”
Cox said Pryor and Shannon talk a lot about the recruiting process and how to become a better player.
“I was like a sponge,” Cox said. “They told me the recruiting process would be hectic and that a lot of people would be bothering me. I’m not worried about that yet. I want to get my ring first.”
The 6-foot-1, 192-pound had a busy summer. He trained hard, played on a 7-on-7 team called WPA Swag with some of the top players from the WPIAL, went to several camps, including the prestigious Nike Opening camp in Oregon with the best 150 players in the nation and even got to play some basketball.
He also was named Most Valuable Player at a Marine Corp Bowl camp at Gateway High School and has been invited to play in the Marine Bowl All-American game in Phoenix, Ariz. on Jan. 3.
“My summer was all work,” said Cox, who said he was timed in the 40-yard dash in 4.52 seconds. “I haven’t had a break. I just keep going. I definitely have been working on my speed. I run with a parachute and do a lot of sprints.”
At the Nike Opening camp, Cox worked out with Patrick Peterson, who was a star defensive back at LSU before being taken fifth overall by the Arizona Cardinals in April. He also spent time with Cardinals receiver Larry Fitzgerald and former NFL greats Jerry Rice and Marshall Faulk.
“I learned a lot from the NFL players and I ate up as much as I could,” Cox said.
“He’s a hard worker and one of the strongest players on the team,” Hall said. “He’ll play a big role in our success as a team.”
Cox rushed for 621 yards and 10 touchdowns last season. He completed 55 of 88 passes for 698 yards and four touchdowns. He also had three interceptions and finished with a total of 12 touchdowns.
Team comes first in Cox’s eyes. He talked more about team goals than individual ones.
“I have to be a leader,” Cox said. “I expect a lot from my teammates. They might not see as much as I see in them. Every time we do something, they probably hate me because I’m pushing them and trying to bring the best out of all of them.”
And Cox believes Jeannette can have a good season after a disappointing end in 2010.
Jeannette was 7-3 overall, but lost it’s final two games, losing to rival Greensburg Central Catholic for the Interstate Conferencfe title and to Freeport, at home, in the opening round of the WPIAL playoffs.
“Our will to keep going at the end of the game will be the key,” Cox said. “Last year we didn’t finish games. We could have been conference champs and gone deeper in the playoffs. We’re going to push ourselves to be good.”
Top 5 westmoreland games to watch
Sept. 2 — Greensburg Salem at Hempfield
• Fans in the Greensburg, Hempfield and Salem Township areas look forward to this annual rivalry.
Sept. 23 — Gateway at Penn-Trafford
• Penn-Trafford’s John Ruane used to coach and still teaches at Gateway. This year, the Warriors are talented enough to contend for a conference title.
Sept. 30 — Greensburg Central Catholic at Mt. Pleasant
• Since Mt. Pleasant joined the Interstate Conference four years ago, this game has always been tight. These two teams will contend for a conference title, along with Jeannette.
Oct. 28 — Franklin Regional at Greensburg Salem
• This regular-season finale could determine the WPIAL Class AAA Keystone Conference title. It features two of the top running backs in the conference.
Oct. 28 — Greensburg Central Catholic at Jeannette
• For the past 10 years, this bitter rivalry has determined the WPIAL Class AA Interstate Conference winner. This year should be no different.
Top 5 westmoreland Players
Franklin Regional, Junior, RB
• He rushed for 1,339 yards and scored 21 touchdowns last year.
Hempfield Area, Senior, RB
• He scored 12 touchdowns, rushed for 873 yards and caught 17 passes for 130 yards.
Penn-Trafford, Senior, RB
• He rushed for 1,195 yards and scored 17 touchdowns last season.
California, Senior, QB
• He led Class A in passing. He completed 120 of 246 passes for 1,906 yards and 25 touchdowns.
Greensburg Salem, Senior, QB
• He completed 78 of 136 passes for 1,121 yards and 15 touchdowns. He also rushed for 591 yards and scored 5 touchdowns.
2 — Games Monessen needs to play to reach 1,000 games in school history. Monessen’s all-time record is 623-328-47.
9 — How many passes Ligonier Valley defensive back Anthony Tutino intercepted in 2010. It earned him first-team honors on the Pennsylvania Football News Class AA defensive team.
13 — The number of touchdown catches Greensburg Central Catholic wide receiver Justin Kempka had in just 23 total receptions last season.
663 — Is how many games the Jeannette football team has won, which ranks it ninth in the state and third in WPIAL.
665 — Number of football games won by Greensburg Salem since 1894 which ranks it seventh all-time in the state and second in the WPIAL behind New Castle (693).
â¢ School: Jeannette
â¢ Position: quarterback and safety.
â¢ College offers (30): Pitt, Penn State, West Virginia, Iowa, Ohio State, Temple, Syracuse, Boston College, Connecticut, Virginia, Maryland, Duke, Vanderbilt, Purdue, Kansas, Kansas State, Wisconsin, Northwestern, Toledo, Eastern Michigan, Arizona State, Illinois, Akron, Indiana, Michigan, Michigan State, (incomplete list)