STARKVILLE - Mississippi State junior defensive lineman Fletcher Cox will forgo his senior season and enter the National Football League draft, the Yazoo City native announced on Tuesday.
"This is a chance for me to do what I've always dreamed of, play in the NFL," Cox said. "I appreciate everything Mississippi State has done for me to help me get to this point. The coaches, fans, staff and everyone there have been amazing during my three years in Starkville."
Cox finished the season with 56 total tackles, including 14.5 tackles for loss and five sacks. He was named Southeastern Conference Defensive Lineman of the Week four times on the season, and was a named first-team all-SEC by the Associated Press.
"Our goal is to develop young men to put them in a position to achieve their goals," head coach Dan Mullen said. "Fletcher bought in to our program and matured during his time here. I've always said that we'll support our players in their efforts to reach their dreams, and Fletcher has a chance to reach his. We wish him nothing but the best and look forward to him representing Mississippi State on Sundays."
Cox finishes his career with 114 total tackles, 24.5 tackles for loss and 8.5 sacks. He played in 36 games, starting 27. He also blocked five kicks during his career at Mississippi State, including a field goal in the Bulldogs' 23-17 victory over Wake Forest in the Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl last week.
From Daily Journal's Brad Locke this morning ...
Mississippi State junior defensive tackle Fletcher Cox has declared for the NFL Draft, according to a New York Times report this morning.
Cox, a first-team All-SEC selection this year, is projected as a second-round pick, according to the report. That projection comes from the NFL, to which Cox submitted paperwork seeking draft feedback. ESPN.com's Todd McShay recently projected him going in the first round.
"I knew deep down in my heart it was time to go," Cox told the Times.
This move is no surprise. Cox had been mum on his decision, but a strong 2011 season – 56 tackles, 14.5 tackles-for-loss and 5.0 sacks – has made him a hot prospect.
Following MSU's 23-17 win over Wake Forest in the Music City Bowl on Friday, Cox said he had a "good idea" of what he would do but needed a couple more days to mull it over.
I'll have more info when I get it. No word yet on whether junior cornerback Johnthan Banks will declare. The deadline for underclassmen to do so is Jan. 15.