By Charles Goldberg
AUBURN, Ala. – Chandler Cox doesn't get the ball a lot, and he's OK with that.
He has other important jobs, like block for the guys who do, play as hard as he can just outside the spotlight, provide a positive outlook 24/7.
All agree Auburn's H-back does that.
Oh, sure. He wouldn't mind a few more carries.
"If that's what they want to do, they can," he says with a smile.
But his job is to block for the likes of Kamryn Pettway, Kerryon Johnson, Stanton Truitt and Kam Martin; and protect quarterback Sean White.
"I'm going to do whatever I can to help this team," Cox says. "It's not about me, it's not about what Chandler is going to do with the ball. I want to do what is going to help Pettway run the ball, help Kerryon or Kam be successful. That's what is important to me. That's what I get excited about. If they want to give me the ball, that's great, but it's not a big deal."
Cox has five carries this season. He's taken a few direct snaps. Has caught three passes, too. He came to Auburn from Apopka, Fla., where he accounted for 36 touchdowns playing running back, fullback, quarterback, tight end and linebacker. But now, what he mostly does, is selflessly block for others. Team player.
"That's the guy we recruited in high school. He loves the game," said offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee.
Cox said things began to change this season when Auburn played at Mississippi State in Game 6.
"I told myself, 'Chandler, just calm down and just play football,'" Cox said. "And that's what I did. I went out there and just did my thing and tried to focus not really on me personally, but just focus on the team and just know it's bigger than me."
Cox has helped Auburn take the lead in the Southeastern Conference in rushing, and the Tigers will take their powerful running game into Saturday's 11 a.m. game against Vanderbilt in Jordan-Hare Stadium, now as the No. 9 team in the first College Football Playoff standings released Tuesday night.
Cox has accepted his role that often calls on him to block big defensive linemen.
"It's how much heart you have because those guys are big," Cox said. "I'm blocking D-ends. I'm blocking Myles Garrett. I'm blocking him and guys that are just so much bigger and stronger than I am. I'm going to put up a fight and I'm going to do whatever I can to help my teammates."
Auburn blocking H-back Chandler Cox is paving the way. 'I'm going to do whatever I can to help this team win.' Video pic.twitter.com/qZxpQItwb9
— Auburn Gold Mine (@AUGoldMine) November 1, 2016
Now, "what we're doing is awesome. The beginning of the season, I think we struggled with really just trusting each other and kind of just doing our own assignments. That’s something I struggled with, too. I knew the offense was counting on me to do my job, and I was struggling at the beginning of the season doing that. But as each week goes on, I have more confidence. And throughout the games we played — when we played LSU, that was a confidence booster for me."
Still, Auburn will throw him a few footballs and that, Cox said, is "super fun."
"It's awesome to be able to contribute like that, catching the balls, I know that opens up the offense a little bit, and they're able to trust me on the edge. It's fun. I like having the ball in my hands, but I'm going to do whatever I can do to help this team win."
Auburn has won five straight and can have a big finish, but Cox says it's Vandy first and then keep going.
"I try to tell the guys to just stay in the moment because it's easy to look ahead, to look past a team. But we have to focus on one game at a time and don't worry about what outsiders say, because at the end of the day it's our family, it's a brotherhood that we have to stick together."
Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: Follow @AUGoldMine