Hickman linebacker works through knee injury to keep competing

Thursday, September 22, 2011 | 8:54 p.m. CDT; updated 9:05 p.m. CDT, Thursday, September 22, 2011
Hickman High School middle linebacker J'den Cox, right, participates in defensive drills Wednesday at football practice.

COLUMBIA — A promising football and wrestling future looked in jeopardy during the Hickman football team's loss Friday when junior linebacker J'den Cox was shaken up making an important fourth-quarter tackle.

Three meniscus tears in his knee caused Cox to miss the final seven football games and the first half of wrestling season last year. Despite recovering from the injury, his knee isn't supposed to bend all the way back. Last Friday night it did. 

"When it does bend all the way, it hurts really bad, and that's what happened," Cox said. “It gets tweaked every now and then, and it’s hard to come back from that. My knee will never be 100 percent again apparently."

The old injury prevented coaches from putting Cox back in the game.

"I was trying to show them that I could do stuff, but they didn't want to take the risk," Cox said. "I wasn't too happy about it."

Hickman (2-2) seemed to lose all momentum after losing Cox. Any comeback attempt disappeared in a 10-0 loss to Hannibal. The Kewpies' linebacker and defensive leader said he is fine, though, and he will be back anchoring the defense this week when the team plays at Helias Catholic.

Cox said he thinks the season is about to take a turn for the better.

"I hate to lose. No one likes to lose," he said. "I think we're getting a lot more focused. I can sleep good tonight knowing I have faith in my team."

While Cox has become an important player for the Kewpies' football team, he is also an outstanding wrestler. For Cox, who won state titles in the sport his freshman and sophomore years, wrestling is a big part of his family life.

"My uncle started when he was a little kid," Cox said. "My brother Zach did it when he was like six or seven. My brother Dre did it when he was five, and I started when I was four. So it’s like a tradition."

Cox plans to continue participating in both sports even though wrestling is his true love.

"I just love to do it," he said. "There are kids out there who like the sport, but they don’t love the sport. Even if I didn’t win my two state titles, and even if I had a losing season, I would still do it because I still have that drive to get better."

Cox is only a junior, but college is still on his mind. He won't rule anything out.

"I’m looking to wrestle in college. I’m not going to say I’m counting out football though because that would be stupid of me. I’ll just see where my passion takes me."

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