UNLV Football:

Notebook: UNLV’s C.J. Cox still healing, trying to make up lost ground

Junior running back missed much of Ely trip with knee injury, now trying to move back up depth chart

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Steve Marcus

Running back C.J. Cox (3) is pushed down by Isaiah Shivers (90) during the first scrimmage of the spring season at Rebel Park on Friday, March 26, 2010.

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During the Rebels' 11-day trip to Ely for training camp, redshirt freshman Bradley Randle began to pull away from the pack of running backs contending for the starting job.

True freshman Tim Cornett continuously showed improvement and the speedy 6-foot-1 back, most likely, will play this fall.

Senior Channing Trotter struggled some with his consistency, but still is in the thick of the race.

Junior C.J. Cox, for the most part, was a spectator.

Cox had a solid spring and entered the fall atop first-year coach Bobby Hauck's depth chart, but a tweak of his right knee suffered before the team even boarded the bus to Ely has caused him to surrender ground helplessly.

"You've just got to go with it," he said after Tuesday's afternoon practice at Rebel Park. "Some things you can't control. You've got to try and get back to your best every day. I'm not (100 percent), but I'm going to try and practice through it, get through practices and see how it feels."

An outsider would look at Cox's career at UNLV to this point and think he's been cursed, in a way, by injuries.

After getting 54 carries as a freshman while backing up current Pittsburgh Steeler Frank Summers, Cox was a logical leading candidate to fill the void left by Summers heading into the 2009 season. However, injuries in fall camp last year left him in the dust for a bit while Trotter emerged.

Trotter went on to rush for 541 yards and nine scores in Mike Sanford's final year at the helm, while Cox's 50 totes and 173 yards came as a back-up.

Now, he's fighting for position with the aforementioned trio.

"There'll be four guys active," Hauck said of his running back corps. "If a guy performs, he's going to keep his turn. If somebody plays better, he'll move up. It'll be week-to-week, for sure."

The two extra days of rest upon returning to Las Vegas were enough to get Cox back onto the field, and he's been a full participant in practice each of the past two days.

Coming into the spring, Hauck said everyone was starting with a clean slate. Cox's early work in front of the new coaching staff was impressive, and if there's any chance of him making up the ground he's lost, now is the time."

"The only thing I can control is what I show right now — what I bring to the table now is what's going to matter," Cox said. "(Doctors) said it could be longer than what it is now (or) shorter than what it is now. It just depends on how fast it heals.

"Even if it hurts, I just have to get back on the field."

Still mum on redshirts, quarterbacks

Don't expect any news on a starting quarterback for the Sept. 4 opener against No. 12 Wisconsin until early next week.

The same goes for a final list of which newcomers the program will redshirt.

Junior Mike Clausen ran the No. 1 offense Monday as the Rebels practiced for more than two hours in the sweltering heat and rare humidity. On Tuesday, senior Omar Clayton assumed that role, and the race still appears to be tight.

As for the freshmen and junior-college transfers, there are some guys on the field whose fates for the 2010 season are clear. Some are still up in the air.

"We'll go another week before making any firm decisions," Hauck said Monday. "But we're going to try to redshirt most of our (first-year) guys. There will be a good number of them redshirting."

Injured linemen

After hurting an ankle in Saturday's scrimmage to cap the Ely trip, sophomore offensive tackle Shane Watterson will be out for a few weeks.

Ahead of him on the depth chart, the anchor of UNLV's o-line — senior tackle Matt Murphy — appeared to tweak his left ankle during Monday's practice. After icing it for the rest of the afternoon, he was wearing a walking boot Tuesday.

Weekly Bobby Hauck Chalk Talks scheduled

Members of the newly relaunched UNLV Rebel Football Foundation and all fans are invited to a series of Chalk Talks this fall with Bobby Hauck.

The Chalk Talks will be breakfast buffet meetings at Big Dog's Café on the second floor at 6390 W. Sahara Ave. They replace the booster luncheons from recent years. At each session, Hauck will review film, discuss strategies and take questions leading up to each home game, beginning at 7:30 a.m. Thursday, Sept. 2.

Rebel Football Foundation members can attend for free, while the public can join in for $15 per person.

Sponsorships are still available for $1,000 and include a table of 10 and opportunities to distribute company materials. For more info, contact George Smith at (702) 654-8460. To join the Rebel Football Foundation, visit www.RebelFoundation.com.

After Sept. 2, scheduled dates for the Chalk Talks are as follows: Sept. 23 (New Mexico), Sept. 30 (UNR), Oct. 28 (TCU), Nov. 10 (Wyoming) and Nov. 16 (Air Force).

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  1. This backfield appears to be pretty deep. I love the open competition and I think that will bring out the best of these players. This discipline and attitude is exactly what this program has needed. Hopefully it translates to wins. See ya Saturday!!!!