Dakota Cox didn't need long to think about his first Division I scholarship offer. The more he learned about Cincinnati, the more he loved.
So it made perfect sense to him when he called up head coach Butch Jones on Thursday and said, "I want to pledge my loyalty. I want to be a Bearcat."
And a Bearcat he shall be: Cox, a 6-foot-1, 220-pound rising senior inside linebacker at Juan Diego, will attend Cincinnati in the fall of 2013, and the coaching staff has told him they expect him to compete immediately for a starting spot.
Listening to Cox talk about Cincinnati he attended a camp there during an eight-camp-in-12-days blitz it's hard to think anyone could be more excited. He loves the campus architecture, he loves the sports management academic track, he loves the football program. But he said the most important factor was the coaching staff.
"It really stuck with me that they were the first ones to offer me and that they loved the way I played," Cox says. "When they offered me, I was estatic at that point. And the coach recently signed a six-year contract, so he'll be there for my entire career. That was another big factor."
Cox was a second team all-state linebacker for the Soaring Eagle, recording 92 tackles and two interceptions. He's had significant playing time since his sophomore year, but even as a freshman, coach John Colosimo said he knew the kid would be special.
"He's always really loved football and has worked hard for three years to get to this point," he says. "It's shown in the way he's played. His work ethic is outstanding."
There's a bit of a legacy here: Cox's father, Tom Cox, grew up in nearby Xenia, Ohio, and many family members still live there. Tom Cox played center at USC from 1981 to 1985.
Cox is not the only Division I prospect on his team not even at his own position. Kalei Kauhaahaa has an offer from Arizona and could be in line for more. Cox expects with him and Kauhaahaa anchoring the defense in the linebacking corps and a lot of other talent around them, Juan Diego could go back to winning titles after a second-round exit last season.
"We're just really training a lot harder than usual," Cox says, explaining he's helped set up 6:30 a.m. weightlifting sessions. "We're looking really good this year as a team. We're looking forward to this season."