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Bengals rookie DB teaching kids ‘what hard work can do’

Bengals undrafted rookie Demetrious Cox has never had success handed to him. That’s a lesson he wants to pass on to kids in his hometown of Jeanette, PA.

Big Ten Championship Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Bengals defensive back Demetrious Cox understands the value of hard work. The undrafted rookie out of Michigan State spent much of his college career bouncing between various roles in the defensive backfield before finally earning a consistent starting job at safety in his senior year, in addition to a surprise tap for defensive captain. In his senior year, he played like a draftable prospect, but an arrest in November and a poor season from the Spartans hurt his stock. But, despite the setbacks, he worked his way onto the Bengals’ training camp roster and will be fighting for a practice squad or roster spot throughout the summer.

That level of dedication and determination is exactly what Cox is trying to teach kids in his hometown of Jeanette, PA. That’s where joined the Jeannette Midgets youth football program last week to help inspire and coach up young football players.

“We want to the show kids what hard work can do,” Jeannette youth coach Danny Cooper told “We have had some special kids come through here, but kids need to understand that normal people can make it, too. Things can be rough in this town. You see too many people standing around on street corners. We want the kids to strive for more.”

The youth football camp is about having fun and learning the sport, but Cox wanted to make sure he left the young players with advice and work ethic to live by.

“It goes so fast,” Cox told the Jeanette players. “I was just here. Use this time as a vehicle to get you from here to a successful life.”

Ultimately, this camp is all about building lasting relationships and giving the kids something they can take with them for the rest of their lives. When it is all said and done, everyone has learned something, even the adults in charge.

“When we were here, we were good because we made each other better,” Cox said. “After practice, they'd have to tell us to go home. We didn't want to leave.”

In addition to instilling the kids with his own relentless work ethic, Cox also hopes to teach the young football players about the importance of integrity and respect. The kids come to the camp to learn how to be great football players, but learning how to be great people is just as, if not more, important.

“With this generation, the most important thing I want to say is, don't ever feel like it's the cool thing to do to be disrespectful,” Cox said. “Think about how you would want to be treated, no matter if you're a Cincinnati Bengal or a Pittsburgh Steeler or whatever one day. Know that people are always watching. You don't want to be known as a bad person in that sense.”

As important as teaching kids new skills and new perspectives can be, one of the most important things Cox and others can teach these kids is to have confidence in themselves and each other. Instilling support systems and a sense of community is key to their development at such a young age.

“We're always like, ‘Remember in Midgets when...,'” Cox said. “I remember family members coming down to watch. It was like a big thing to do. It shows how much the community respects their sports here. It creates a bond. So many great athletes have come through here, and you understand that pride that comes with playing here from a young age.”

Whether or not Cox accomplishes his goal of making it with the Bengals this summer, he seems to be doing good things with the opportunity he’s been presented. With that kind of dedication and work ethic, he is bound to continue to find success in his endeavors, a trait he has hopefully passed on to some of the kids in Jeanette.