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Auburn quarterback Brandon Cox works out under the eyes of offensive line coach Hugh Nall, left, and head coach Tommy Tuberville.
AP photo by Todd Van Emst
Auburn quarterback Brandon Cox works out under the eyes of offensive line coach Hugh Nall, left, and head coach Tommy Tuberville.

Auburn's old man Cox takes leadership role

By Bradley Handwerger
bhandwerger@decaturdaily.com 340-2462

AUBURN — The joke around the Auburn athletic complex is that Brandon Cox isn't as young as he looks.

Coaches and reporters talk about the Tigers' "32-year-old" quarterback.

In reality, the fifth-year senior is only 24, even though it seems to many that he is as mature a typical 32-year-old.

During his Auburn career, Cox has endured an illness that sapped his energy (myasthenia gravis). As a two-year starter, he has led Auburn to a 19-5 record. And despite being injured all of last season, he met all requests to speak to reporters and never complained, at least not publicly.

Now, as his final set of spring drills are coming to a close, Cox is sounding like the mature leader his team expects.

"Being a senior, being the quarterback, everybody's looking at me," Cox said. "Talking to all the seniors, we're really trying to lead this team like the guys in the 13-0 season did."

He's trying to get back to the form he held in 2005, when he finished with 2,324 passing yards and 15 touchdowns to eight interceptions.

Yet, it's not like Cox's junior season was poor. He finished with one less touchdown and one more interception than his sophomore season, and his passing efficiency was six points better than 2005.

Nevertheless, for the first time since that 2005 year, Cox said he feels nearly 100 percent healthy.

"Comparing how healthy I was in the bowl game to how I felt during the season, I thought I was healthy then," Cox said. "But comparing it to where I am now, I'd say I was about 90 percent."

Offensive coordinator Al Borges sees it.

"He looks like a different quarterback," Borges said. "His drops are so much cleaner. His movements are so much smoother."

So while Borges is looking for a quarterback to win the backup spot, his mind can be clear about his starting quarterback.

For Cox, his job now is to show his detractors that he's the quarterback he was in 2005.

He is looking forward to the 2007 season opener against Kansas State. That's when he can start his campaign to change people's opinions of him.

"You're always going to have people doubting you," Cox said. "Even when we were 13-0, people were doubting us. You can't please everybody. That's what makes it fun, going out there and proving people wrong."

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