Playing near his home was a proposition Morgan Cox could not pass up.
The free-agent long snapper played his high school football in west Tennessee and then walked on at the University of Tennessee and played three years of college football on the east side of the state.
Now, after 11 seasons with the Baltimore Ravens, he chose to split the difference and play in Nashville for the Tennessee Titans.
“Getting to play high school ball in Memphis, and college ball in Knoxville, it just seemed fitting for me to come here,” Cox said. “I’ve been invested in the Titans for many years now. … I came to games when I was in high school. I love this organization. This was an easy ‘yes’ for me.”
The hard part was to stick around long enough for the opportunity.
In 2010, the Ravens signed Cox as an undrafted rookie. He earned the job as a rookie and from there the rest fell into place. He missed just 11 games from 2010-20 (nine of them in 2014) and named to four Pro Bowls, including each of the last two.
With the Ravens, he was part of the Wolfpack, a trio of specialists along with kicker Justin Tucker and punter Sam Koch who played nine seasons together and developed into one of the NFL’s most prolific and reliable kicking units.
“It’s a real testament to going day-by-day,” Cox said. “I am a detail-oriented person, especially when it comes to my job. So, improving each day was my goal and my mindset. … I never looked too far ahead, I always wanted to stay in the moment.
“And I believe just stacking those days together has given me this career.”
Snapping didn’t come naturally for Cox. In fact, his first attempt at it when he was 11-years-old didn’t go well, and his youth team moved him along and never asked him to try again.
But he didn’t give up. After high school, he became Tennessee’s starter at long snapper in 2007 and earned a scholarship prior to the start of the 2008 season.
“I am sure there are plenty of people I played with at Tennessee that might not believe I am in this position today,” he said. “I am really proud of the career I’ve had so far.”
As a former member of the Ravens, Cox has a unique perspective on the rivalry between the clubs. He was on the field at Nissan Stadium in January when the Titans’ season ended with a wild card loss to the Ravens. He was also involved when the teams met a year earlier in a divisional playoff game at Baltimore, and Tennessee cruised to a 28-12 triumph.
Rivalry aside, after the Ravens informed him that they would not offer him a contract for 2021, Cox couldn’t pass on an opportunity to return to the state.
“This is such a great team already and just to get to be a part of it is exciting,” he said. “Yes, there is the rivalry, but I’ve been through rivalries before and it just makes the game more appealing.
“I spent 11 years up there and so I know everybody up there. But I am excited about this team, and where we can go. I think the sky is the limit.”
And the distance from his hometown is minimal.