By Brad Locke/NEMS Daily Journal
NASHVILLE – As they prepare for Mississippi State’s upcoming bowl game, a big decision looms before both Fletcher Cox and Johnthan Banks.
The juniors have filed paperwork with the NFL seeking feedback, and there is the possibility that both could leave for the pros after this season, which ends Friday against Wake Forest in the Music City Bowl.
Neither was keen on talking about it after Tuesday’s practice.
“I’m not going to talk about that,” said Cox, a defensive tackle who has received the NFL’s assessment. “I think it’s personal, and if I feel like I should let the media know, then I’ll just talk to Joe (Galbraith, media relations director) or coach (Dan) Mullen about it.”
ESPN.com projects Cox as a first-round pick, and if that’s the kind of information he got from the NFL, he could be gone.
“So if it says you’re going to be a first-rounder, you probably should leave and go,” Mullen said Monday. “It’s a lot of money, and that’s life-changing money.”
Cox said that he’s not made up his mind on whether he’s going or staying, and he won’t do so until MSU is done with its season. Banks, a cornerback, said he’s not thinking about the NFL at all right now.
“It ain’t tough blocking out that stuff,” he said. “Because you pretty much know what you’re going to do, so it’s a decision – if you want it, you want it. I ain’t worried about that, I’m worried about winning this football game.”
Cox has made 49 tackles, 12.5 tackles for loss and 4.0 sacks. Banks, who played at East Webster, has five interceptions and an SEC-leading 14 passes defended.
Cox appears to be more NFL-ready than Banks. He plays tackle but at 6-foot-4, 295 pounds has the range and athleticism of an end.
“He has the NFL potential, and I wish the best for him,” MSU offensive lineman Quentin Saulsberry said. “I think he’ll do very well in the NFL. He’s one of those guys that he’s always got his motor going.”
Banks and Cox have both had to deal with the NFL questions from fans and media for a while now. That sort of thing can get annoying, but cornerback Corey Broomfield had a positive outlook on it.
“It’s better asking them questions about the NFL than asking them questions about suspensions and other stuff.”