Dec. 6, 1999
by Jacob Barker Printed in the Duke Football Game Program (November 6, 1999)
Over his career at Clemson, DoMarco Fox has made a name for himself as a hard hitting, versatile defender. This season the senior strong safety from Philadelphia, MS is playing his third different position in four years. While his position on the team has been like a revolving door, his reputation as a hard hitter has been a constant ever since his arrival at Clemson.
Fox attended Neshoba Central High School and ironically it was at quarterback that he earned all-division and second-team all-state honors. While at Neshoba, Fox played against current Green Bay Packer and former Clemson cornerback, Antwan Edwards, who attended near by Starkville High School.
“I played against Antwan every year from seventh grade on. We had a friendly but intense rivalry. We would talk before and after the games but it was not until we both came to Clemson that we became good friends. Antwan and I were roommates for two years at Clemson and now we keep in contact on a regular basis.”
“At first I thought Antwan was going to Florida State, but then a week after I had committed to Clemson he signed with Clemson. When I got to Clemson I knew I was going to have great competition every day in practice.”
Coming out of high school Fox was rated the 19th best overall player in the state of Mississippi. Even though Fox played quarterback in high school, Clemson moved him to defense his freshman year. “Ever since I was moved to defense I have not had any regrets about not being able to play offense. It is a little more difficult this year though when I see the type of offense we are running, ” Fox said with a chuckle.
Fox feels that the key to Clemson’s success in the secondary this year has been its aggressive, no fear attitude. “There is a certain attitude that we have on defense. From our coaches to the rest of our players, we are all one unit trying to accomplish one goal. It is all about emotion and we try to play with great emotion everyday in practice and in the games. It is different than playing on offense and I really enjoy the physical side of playing defense.”
Fox’s physical style has left junior free safety Robert Carswell awe struck on several occasions over the past few years. “The hits he puts on people are scary. He is only about 180 pounds but he hits like he weighs 250 pounds. When he is out on the field he looks like he has been shot out of a cannon. I can remember two hits in particular. One was last season against Terrence Wilkins from Virginia. The second one was this year against Travis Minor of Florida State. Minor was running the ball and when he hit the line Fox was there and punished him. Hits like that really get everyone excited,” said Carswell.
Like Carswell, sophomore linebacker Chad Carson is amazed by Fox’s ability to register the big hit. “I remember one time during two-a-day practices this year, DoMarco hit one of our receivers on a crossing play. He hit him so hard that the receiver had to leave practice with a concussion. After that coach Bowden told DoMarco and Robert Carswell that they were not allowed to hit our receivers until the end of two-a-days. DoMarco is a very physical player and he excels at that type of play.”
Carson also says that Fox’s aggressive attitude makes him a leader not only on the field but off the field as well. “DoMarco is a real intense guy. Whether it is on the field or in team meetings, he is the one that gets in your face and gets you excited.”
As a freshman during the 1996 season, Fox played in all 12 games and led the team in special team tackles with 10. That season he also saw action as a free safety and had his best two games against Georgia Tech and Virginia, both of whom were ranked in the top-25 at the time.
The 1997 season saw the emergence of Fox as one of the best defenders in the country. That year, while playing free safety, he was fourth on the team in tackles and had a key punt block late in the North Carolina game. That block gave Clemson a chance to score what could have been the winning touchdown. Fox was also the key ingredient to a defense that ranked third in the conference against the pass and 32nd in the nation.
In 1998, Fox spent most of the season back at the free safety position. He had a 30-yard interception return and a fumble recovery against Virginia Tech, but his playing time during the last four games was limited due to a knee injury.
Prior to this season, Fox was listed as the 16th best cornerback in the nation and was a first-team All-ACC selection. He was also an honorable mention All-American choice by College Sports News. He went into spring practice this year as a cornerback but by the end of the spring was moved to the strong safety position.
A knee injury prior to the Marshall game and an ankle injury during the NC State contest have slowed Fox a little, but he refuses to use them as an excuse. “When you are playing at this level you have to know how to play with pain. The injuries have slowed me down a little bit, but I’ve just needed to step up a little more and play through those injuries.”
Like his former roommate, Fox has a goal of playing in the NFL one day. “The transition to the NFL is just like the transition from high school to college. You want to see if you are good enough to compete on the next level. I just want to see where I stand with players at the next level. I feel like anybody who plays a college sport should want to go to the next level. It does not make sense to me if you do not want to.”
With his physical style and versatility as a defender, playing at the next level is a very realistic goal for DoMarco Fox. For now though Fox is concentrating on earning his degree and the possibility of leading Clemson back to another bowl game.
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