Aaron Cox (Photo: ASU)
Over the decades, Arizona State has produced several outstanding wide receivers. Yet among that group, only a handful earned a first round selection in the NFL Draft. The most recent member of that group earns the No. 48 spot on our 100-Day Countdown list, not for being a first round selection of the Los Angeles Rams in 1988, but for being one of the most productive pass catchers to ever wear the maroon and gold.
When Aaron Cox first came to Tempe in 1984, he had dreams of standing with the legends that came before him. As he told Jeff Metcalfe of The Arizona Republic, "That was a dream of mine when I first came to ASU. I stood in front of John Jefferson's Hall of Fame display the day before freshman camp."
Lofty goals for sure, but the 5'9" speedster flashed some early signs of his playmaking potential. Against Florida State, he set the school's freshman receiving record with 159 yards in the wild 52-44 loss.
Cox then took a major leap forward in 1985 and claimed a spot with which he'd become very familiar: ASU's leading receiver. Forming a potent duo with Jeff Van Raaphorst, Cox led the team with 43 receptions for 855 yards and six touchdowns, which included a 95-yard strike against USC that is still tied for the longest play from scrimmage. Cox was named a second-team member of the All-Pac-10 squad after that season.
Even though his numbers dropped to 35-695-2 in 1986, he was named to the All-Pac-10's first team, and he saved his best game for last. In the biggest game in ASU history, the 1987 Rose Bowl, Cox caught six passes for 104 yards in the Sun Devils' 22-15 win.
When Van Raaphorst moved on after that season, Cox' production still remained high. As a senior in 1987, he once again was named to the All-Pac-10 first team on the strength of 42 catches for 870 yards and five touchdowns.
In each of those last three seasons, Cox was also named to the AP's All-American team as a honorable mention. He went on to be the 20th overall pick in the 1988 NFL Draft by the Rams, and showed great promised with 28 catches for 590 yards as a rookie. But hamstring injuries prevented him from building upon that form and he was out of professional football by 1994.
His 2,694 career receiving yards are fourth on ASU's all-time list and his speed is illustrated in the fact that among players with 101 to 151 career catches, his 19.8 yards-per-reception is the highest ever. With such a storied career on his resume, he was inducted into ASU's Hall of Fame in 2010.
See the previous entries on House of Sparky's 100 day countdown here