Back home in Franklin, Mississippi Valley State wide receiver Paul Cox had discipline instilled in his household at an early age.
After all, his dad, Paul Cox Sr., is a master sergeant in the U.S. Army and his mom, Monica Cox, works at the clerk of courts for the St. Mary Parish court house.
“They always talked about discipline, discipline, discipline,” Cox said. “When I was younger, I never understood why my family was so hard on me.”
It was his family’s discipline that molded him into the man and football player he is today, Cox said.
At seven years old, he recalls playing flag football in Morgan City, where his grandfather constantly told him to never quit, never stop, and to be the fastest person on the field.
After playing at Patterson High under Timmy Minton, Cox decided to play his college football outside of Louisiana.
Despite interest from schools like Louisiana Tech, Nicholls State and Louisiana-Lafayette, Cox turned to Mississippi Valley State, in Itta Bena, Miss.
“It was great experience being at a local school,” Cox said. “The fans were always great, and the stadium was always packed. But me and my family thought Mississippi was the better option. It allowed me to go out and explore.”
Since arriving on-campus for the 2008 season, Cox and the rest of the Delta Devils have struggled to win. Over that span MVSU is 6-29 - with only two Southwestern Athletic Conference wins. They’ll try again Saturday as Southern visits.
Last season the team couldn’t even play at their stadium after it was deemed unsafe. The Delta Devils had to travel around 45 minutes for every “home” game. Cox said the local support has been tough, especially considering that MVSU is the smallest school in the SWAC.
So far this season at Rice-Totten Stadium, the team has pulled in a combined attendance of 5,989 in two home games.
However, even with the team’s struggles, Cox remains a bright spot for the Delta Devils.
“Cox has done a good job for us,” Mississippi Valley State coach Karl Morgan said. “He’s a talented guy, and he’s a good guy off the field.”
As a junior last season, Cox finished with 21 receptions for 520 yards and five touchdowns - leading all SWAC receivers with an average of 24.8 yards per catch. Now a senior and offensive team captain, Cox is already closing in on his production from last season in just four games.
Cox is currently second in the SWAC in receiving yards (323), third in yards per catch (17.9) and sixth in receptions (18).
The 6-foot-5, 205-pound receiver - who said he runs a 4.5-second 40-yard dash - had the most complete game of his career last week, Morgan said, in a 43-34 loss at Prairie View. Cox caught six passes for 137 yards and two touchdowns.
“He’s the guy that really is our go-to guy on offense,” Morgan said. “We definitely will try to get the ball to him, and he makes things happen after he gets it.”
With self-described explosiveness, and NFL size and speed, more than half of the NFL’s teams have sent scouts to watch Cox practice, including the Buffalo Bills and New Orleans Saints, Morgan said.
The last time a Valley player was drafted by the NFL was 1992, when the Indianapolis Colts selected cornerback Ashley Ambrose in the second round and running back Ronald Humphrey in the eighth round.
It’s a long that many college athletes don’t experience. But with discipline and skills, Cox may get a shot.
“That’s my dream,” Cox said. “That’s my ultimate dream, but I have a lot of work to do to get there.”