You’ve probably heard of Nate Cox before, whether you specifically recall his name or not—he’s the tallest quarterback in college football at 6-foot-9. His height is the first thing that’s called out on broadcasts and it’s something people have commented on since his early days of playing quarterback at St. Thomas More High School. “It does get old but I’ve gotten it my whole life, really with playing football and being tall,” Cox said. “I’m kind of used to it now, but I would say in high school when people first started noticing me, it got a little bit aggravating.” There’s a lot more worth noticing about the Nevada quarterback than his stature, though. He has a solid foundation in multiple offensive schemes, a solid degree of escapability and mobility when the situation calls for it, and brings to the table a solid amount of arm strength. “The best part about my game I would say is definitely my arm,” Cox said. “I can make every throw on the field and I make good decisions. This is my sixth year going into it, so I can’t even tell you how many reps I’ve gotten over these past five years…” He started his career off at Louisiana Tech within a pass-happy offense before transferring to Garden City Junior College, more of a pro-style system. It was there that he was eventually discovered by Matt Mumme, who served as Nevada’s offensive coordinator before he took a job with Colorado State late last year. Mumme extended the only offer Cox received while there and the two quickly developed a close relationship. “I loved having (Matt) Mumme on the staff,” Cox said. “He was the only coach I was talking to a lot when I was at a JUCO. I got to know him and his family really well. He’s a great guy and if my playing career were to not work out for football, I would definitely want to go coach with him or get a GA spot or something like that.” Cox is not the only quarterback that Mumme has been the only one in on—the current Rams offensive coordinator was also the only coach to extend an offer to Carson Strong, who is now projected to go in the first or second round of the 2022 NFL Draft. Strong, up until now, has been the starter for the entirety of Cox’s career at Nevada. While things have certainly remained competitive, they’re close on and off the field. “Obviously, you want to be playing. But at the same time, there’s a guy like Carson (Strong) in front of me, an established starter who is really good,” Cox said. “Me and Carson are really close now and he’s become one of my best friends. Every day at practice, we kept track of stats and all of that. We’d have 7-on-7 stats and our team stats… I was trying to beat Carson in all of those. Just competing, me and him at every practice we were out there competing, whether it was drills or just 7-on-7 and things of that nature.” While Cox obviously hasn’t gotten the same amount of reps as a full-time starter would, he’s made the most of the relief appearances he’s had at Nevada and feels like he’s capitalized well. In 2021, he completed 14-of-20 passing attempts for 158 yards with two touchdowns over three games (Idaho State, New Mexico State, and Colorado State). “Those reps are really valuable. You don’t get a lot of them, which can be frustrating at times, especially if you have to get thrown in there to play,” Cox said. “I feel like I have done a good job of emphasizing those reps that I do get. It’s going to be different this year being the starter, but those reps have helped me out tremendously.” Cox got his first start in the Quick Lane Bowl against Western Michigan, which was a hectic time for Nevada with a large part of the staff following head coach Jay Norvell to Colorado State and Strong opting out. “It was definitely a fun time but it was a different experience. The majority of our coaching staff left, we were scrambling just trying to figure out who we were going to have playing in the bowl game,” Cox said. “Lots of people were leaving and transferring.” It was far from a perfect game for the Wolf Pack as Cox completed 12-of-23 passes for 121 yards with one touchdown and one interception in the 52-24 loss. Nevada put up the majority of its points on the ground with running backs Toa Taua and Devonte Lee recording one rushing touchdown each, combining for 113 rushing yards. Still, there were some bright spots and signs of things to build off of as the team enters a new era, now led by head coach Ken Wilson, who is expected to run more of a zone-read system. “For my first college start, it was a good experience,” Cox said of the bowl game. “It was not what I expected but I feel like we did some good things in that game we’re going to be able to build off of this year because we kind of changed how we were running the offense in that game. There are going to be some things we’re doing in coach Ken (Wilson’s) system that are similar.” Cox is confident in how he’ll fit into the new offense. “Definitely (I feel I could fit in with that),” Cox said. “In the Air Raid, running the ball is not top priority, so we kind of built our team the past two years for pass protection and throwing the ball. As far as my mobility goes, I’m not a big runner. I’m looking to pass first most of the time, but I do like extending plays and making things happen on the ground. This year, it’s going to open the offense up just because if we are running a zone-read scheme, they have to honor two guys, they can’t just send everybody at the back kind of how they were the past two years.” It will be interesting to see how things shake out for both Cox and the Wolf Pack as the Mountain West will see a team different in several aspects than the one that took the field in Reno last season.
- Aug 11, 2022
- Aug 11, 2022