FORT WAYNE – There must be something about Rome City. The small Noble County town of 1,400 produces its fair share of tough-minded football players such as East Noble senior receiver Grey Fox.
Rome City has a reputation for being a town of tough kids, so we call the kids from there Rome City Tough, East Noble coach Luke Amstutz said. Grey is like the epitome of that. He is just mean and practices hard and gets after people. He literally is one of the toughest kids I have ever met.
That nastiness has helped Fox produce a 75-catch, 1,117-yard campaign with 13 touchdowns and a Class 4A All-State selection in 2012 and a solid start to this season with 24 catches, 360 yards and four receiving touchdowns and one rushing TD.
I definitely see it as a reputation, said Fox, who attended Rome City Elementary. There is a lot of talent and varsity athletes who come from my hometown. It is just the way we are raised. We have some kind of attitude, you could call it. We all have the same mentality, whether its on offense or defense.
Foxs attitude makes him tough to tackle and sometimes even harder to catch.
There are a lot of kids who will run a route and start to think about how they might get tackled after they catch the ball, but he doesnt care, Amstutz said. He isnt thinking about getting tackled; he is thinking about catching the ball and scoring every time he catches it.
Not blessed with the height of a go-to receiver, the 5-foot-9, 160-pound Fox is more in the mold of a Wes Welker-type at slot receiver who just seems to find the ball.
He has always been smaller than everybody, and he has had to compete to be good in anything because he has an inherent disadvantage being small, Amstutz said. He comes and brings it, though, and he is not afraid of anything or anybody. He just goes full speed all the time.
He compensates by having the best footwork of anybody I have seen or coached. It is virtually impossible to jam him at the line because he has such quick feet and good shifty hips. He is smart. You can put him in a lot of different positions, and he can figure out what to do quickly.
Fox said he enjoys the one-on-one battles with defensive backs.
I just want to make sure everybody knows what I got and what I bring to the table, he said. Getting brought down is like them winning the battle. The way you start off the ball and when you make your cut is a very big part of creating separation, which is important as a receiver.
As much as Fox likes the individual battles, he is more about helping Class 4A No. 10 East Noble (3-1, 1-1 NHC) get wins. The Knights have a conference showdown at home tonight against Carroll (3-1, 1-1).
I see myself as a team player, more than anything, Fox said. I want the best for not only myself but anything I can do for the rest of the team.
College football could be in Foxs future, but because of his lack of height, no Division I schools have come calling. Wanting to go to medical school, Fox said education will play a big part of where he will go to college and football could be a bonus if he can find a place with the right fit.