MHS senior Willie Cox has committed to play football for the Hardin Simmons University Cowboys next season.

Cox a two year letterman at MHS was the recipient of the Panther Fighting Heart Award this season for his play at nose tackle. He also was an all-district selection.

Cox will play for Cowboy head coach Jimmie Keeling, a West Texas legend. Coach Keeling helped bring football back to Hardin-Simmons in 1990, after a 37 year absence, and has posted an 135-39 record. His teams have won 10 conference titles, played in 18 playoff games and he has been named conference coach of the year six times. Keeling ranks 10th among active Division III coaches in career winning percentage and is 20th in career wins. Last year’s 8-2 record marked the program’s 14th straight winning season.

“This job is about the kids, if you don’t like being around young people then there is no reason to be in coaching,” said Keeling. “We want to win a lot of football games, but on top of that we want to produce young men that are going to represent the school and themselves.”

In 1995, Keeling was rewarded for his 30 years of excellence in high-school coaching when he was inducted into the Texas High School Coaches Association Hall of Honor. Keeling posted a career high school record of 196-91-11.

In July of 2003, he received the Head Football Coaching Award by the All-American Football Foundation.

In 1990, Keeling was chosen to revive the Cowboy program, which hadn't played a football game since 1963. The Cowboys went 3-6 with a team comprised of almost all freshmen the first season. The next year, the Cowboys challenged for the TIAA title in 1991, going 5-5. Keeling guided the next five Cowboys squads to the playoffs, including a NAIA Division II semifinal game against Westminster (Pa.) in 1993.

“I really look forward to playing football at Hardin Simmons,” Cox said. "And I am excited to able to compete in a winning program."

Cox plans to major in Law Enforcement and hopes to become a trooper for the Texas Deptartment of Public Safety with a goal of someday becoming a Texas Ranger.