When Utah starting defensive end Derrick Shelby went down with a season-ending knee injury against TCU, it was a big blow to the Utah defense. At least it seemed like it at the time. However, thanks to junior walk-on Christian Cox, the Utes' defense has hardly skipped a beat. Cox has started the past two games at left end and come up with eight tackles and two sacks. On the season, he leads the team in sacks with five and in tackles for loss with eight. "We miss Shelby, but between Christian, Junior Tui'one and Nai Fotu, we've been able to hold down the fort," said Utah coach Kyle Whittingham. "Christian has been a valuable asset for us. He's a self-made guy. He's got to where he's at through sheer determination and hard work."
It's not like Cox has come out of nowhere, this year at least. He played in every game, and got a lot of reps at both defensive end positions and ranks 13th on the team in tackles. "I've been able to play all season," he said. "(Starting) has given me more opportunities to make plays. I credit it to my coaching. It's been a great transition."