Utah State facing a Juan Diego linebacker on New Mexico
It's going to be an all-Juan Diego week.
I wrote about the walk-on journey of senior Jamie Markosian today, and his brother, walk-on freshman Nick Markosian. The Aggies have relied on the Soaring Eagle to produce some of the program's starters: Markosian, Jake Doughty, Keegan Andersen, Jaron Bentrude among them.
But what about New Mexico? Turns out they have their own middle linebacker from Draper: Freshman Dakota Cox.
Only months after signing with the Lobos, Cox has made a splash in Albuquerque as the only Utah player on the team roster. He's started three games and has 29 tackles.
"When I signed, I put in my head that I didn't want to redshirt," he said. "I just worked off that mindset, that I knew I wanted to start."
Cox said initially, the game sped by him. He was caught a bit off-guard in his first college action.
"It took me a couple plays to get really into the groove," he said. "I was really starstruck with the vibe and the crowd. It's such a great feeling to be out there."
But so far, the latest Juan Diego alum starring at the DI level has adjusted to the learning curve. In his recent game against Wyoming, he had nine tackles. Coach Bob Davie said in his press conference this week that Cox is playing every snap.
Still, he has a long way to go to catch up to Doughty, leading Utah State in tackles this year with 83. His 11.9 wrap-ups per game are fifth in the nation.
The two never played together, but Doughty played with Cox's older brother, while Cox played with Doughty's younger brother. Doughty hasn't watched any film of Cox since he got to the college level, but he got an eyeful of the first-team all-state linebacker when he was still at Juan Diego.
"He was a great player, great vision, great technique," Doughty said. "That's kind of cool when kids from your high school go different places like that. We don't watch too much of the defense, but I hear he's doing pretty good."
The Soaring Eagle, one of the most consistent programs in the state over the years, has produced its share of football players for being one of 3AA's smaller schools, albeit a private school. Cox may have a new home in New Mexico, but he's still very proud of where he came from.
"All those guys at Utah State, it's great to see, especially coming out of Juan Diego," Cox said. "You don't expect a lot of that, so it's big for Juan Diego and it shows it doesn't matter how big your school is."
Kyle Goonkgoon@sltrib.comTwitter: @kylegoon