Exactly one week ago today, Nate Cox received a text message from a number he did not know.
“This is Coach Mumme from Nevada,” it read. “Give me a call when you have a chance.”
Cox did just that, ringing up the Wolf Pack’s offensive coordinator, Matt Mumme, as soon as he got the message. Mumme had received film of Cox from the junior-college quarterback’s uncle, who used to coach with Mumme. On that initial phone call last Tuesday, which was Cox’s first conversation with anybody from Nevada, the Wolf Pack offered a scholarship to the 6-foot-9 – not a typo – 240-pound quarterback.
“Huge relief,” Cox told Nevada Sports Net on Tuesday morning of getting the offer. “I have been working for it since I was in eighth grade, just trying to get one scholarship, trying to get one school to believe in me. Seeing it pay off was a huge relief.”
Cox took an official visit to Nevada last weekend before committing to the Wolf Pack. He was able to enroll in classes for the spring semester and will be with the team when spring camp begins in March.
“It was out of the blue,” Cox said of Nevada’s first call. “(Coach Mumme) told me they needed a guy to come in because they only had two arms. He called me, and at first I didn’t know if it would be a walk-on opportunity or scholarship, and they said they would offer me a full scholarship.”
Cox will beef up Nevada's quarterback depth as the Wolf Pack returns only three scholarship players at the position from last season, including returning starter and sophomore-to-be Carson Strong, junior Kaymen Cureton and redshirt freshman Kaiden Bennett. Cox began his college career as a walk-on at Louisiana Tech for two seasons before transferring to Garden City (Kan.) Community College. In his one JuCo season, Cox completed 131-of-253 passes (51.8 percent) for 1,891 yards with 12 touchdowns and five interceptions. Cox graduated in December and had been looking to join a school at the next level, that big break finally coming from Nevada.
“This past year was definitely a big learning experience because the offense we ran was different from what I was used to run,” Cox said. “It was under center, a lot of play action, a lot of power. It was good to get that. I hadn’t taken a lot of under-center snaps in high school and college. It was a good experience and as each game went on I was able to learn more and more and really progress.”
The first thing that stands out about Cox is his size. At 6-9, he’ll be one of the tallest, if not the tallest, quarterback in the FBS in 2020. Cox said there aren’t really any disadvantages to his size.
“The obvious advantage is it’s easy to see over the line,” Cox said. “I can see everything on the field. Being my size, a lot of people think I can’t move that well. I think I can move pretty well for my size, so I don’t think it’s a big disadvantage.”
Cox grew up in Lafayette, La., playing football, basketball and baseball (more on that later), and had to wait to get his turn on the field in football at St. Thomas More High. Sitting behind a talented quarterback one year older than him, Cox didn’t get his starting opportunity until his senior season. That year, Cox completed 202-of-323 passes (62.5 percent) for 3,405 yards, 48 touchdowns and five interceptions. The Cougars went 10-3 that season and won its first state championship with Cox providing a 447-yard, six-touchdown effort in the title game win at the Mercedes Benz Superdome. The 447 passing yards in the state title game was a state record.
“I proved I could really make great decision on the field, protect the ball and get it to my guys and let them be players,” Cox said of getting starting chance as a senior.
Without much interest from colleges, Cox walked on at Louisiana Tech, three hours north of his hometown. He appeared in seven games in 2018 for the Bulldogs but didn’t throw a pass, which led to his transfer to a junior college. Cox said he’s a pure pocket passer with good athleticism for his size, adding he didn’t mind the fact Nevada has two young quarterbacks – Strong and Bennett – sitting atop the depth chart.
“I love competition,” Cox said. “Growing up with an older brother, I’m used to competing. It’s definitely in my background and I love to do it.”
While he didn’t throw for Nevada’s coaches during his official visit last weekend, Cox said he enjoyed his time in Reno.
“Coming from Louisiana, it’s quite the different scenery,” Cox said. “I really liked the mountains. The weather was beautiful when I got here. I talked to the coaches and with Coach (Jay) Norvell and they all seemed really nice and genuine guys, and it felt like the perfect spot and the perfect opportunity.”
And Cox is used to playing on big stages. In addition to his state title game at the NFL's Superdome, Cox also played in the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pa., when he was 12 years old.
“That was an awesome experience,” said Cox, a right-fielder and pitcher. “That was really the first time I played in front of a really big crowd. We played the Pennsylvania team, so that was the biggest crowd that year around 20,000. Getting that experience at 12 was definitely a breathtaking moment. It was great to get that first experience out of the way at a young age.”
Sports columnist Chris Murray provides insight on Northern Nevada sports. Contact him at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @MurrayNSN.