Sept. 17, 2003
ATLANTA – The defense, it’s often the heart and soul of any successful football team. For the 2003 edition of the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, that has certainly been the case. The group, which has carried Tech to an upset win over 17th-ranked Auburn and a near victory over 10th-ranked Florida State, has been exceptional in the last two weeks and is being led by senior linebacker Keyaron Fox.
Fox, easily the most distinguishable member of the defensive unit, with his flamboyant hairstyle and aggressive playing style, has taken over the leadership role of the young group this year. Through three games, he has already racked up 43 tackles, nearly one half of his career season high of 95, for an average of 14.3 stops per game, a mark that leads both the Yellow Jackets and the Atlantic Coast Conference.
“I feel like I’ve had to take more of a leadership role for our defense this year,” said Fox. “We are young on defense, but we do have a lot of guys that are back from last year and that has helped us to have a lot of chemistry as a group. We all got together in the offseason and worked hard in the weight room to get better and you are seeing the results of that right now. The biggest difference this year has been all of the guys going back and really studying their playbooks and getting the schemes down.”
The studying and chemistry have both certainly paid off in the past two outings, as Tech’s defense has held a pair of nationally-ranked opponents to a total of just 17 points and 481 yards of offense. With that, the Jackets lead the ACC and rank 16th nationally in rushing defense, allowing 72.3 yards per game on the ground, while also leading the conference with 11 sacks and ranking second in total defense (281.0 ypg/22nd NCAA) and scoring defense (13.7 ppg/19th NCAA). Fox feels that the games against Auburn and Florida State have given the defense a great deal of confidence.
“The pressure is always going to be on the defense, because you have to go out and stop people,” said Fox. “We’ve played two of the best offensive teams in the country in Auburn and Florida State, and proved that we can go out and hold them. Auburn was a big confidence boost for us to be able to shut them down. Confidence is everything for this team this year. We have a lot of young guys out there and they are gaining more confidence every week.”
As was pointed out earlier, Fox certainly has many of the makings of a superstar football player, from the flamboyant style to the aggressive on-field demeanor and the single-name recognition, but the area that he probably falls short in would have to be his ride. While many stars can be seen rolling around in their Escalades and Navigators, the College Park, Ga., native stays much more true to his roots and uses his “Harley” to get around campus. While it’s not exactly a true American machine like a full-scale Harley-Davidson motorcycle, Fox’ yellow electric scooter gets the job done.
“I like to call it my Harley,” said Fox. “My mom gave it to me as a present and it’s just my way of getting around campus.”
With the 2003 campaign only in its infancy, Fox and the rest of the Georgia Tech defense have already made a statement about their abilities, with career years apparently in the offing for a number of players. The Yellow Jackets and their fans will fortunately be able to enjoy no fewer than nine more games with Fox leading the way on defense before he hops on his “Harley” and rides off into a likely career in the National Football League. After a great beginning to 2003, a career year certainly would not be bad ending for the man they call Fox, just Fox.