January 3, 2012 10:00:00 AM
STARKVILLE -- Mississippi State junior defensive tackle Fletcher Cox has decided to forego his final year of eligibility to declare for the National Football League Draft.
The 295-pound defensive lineman from Yazoo City made the announcement officially Tuesday afternoon.
"This is a chance for me to do what I've always dreamed of, play in the NFL," Cox said in a university statement. "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.
According to a New York Times report, Cox received a second-round draft grade by the NFL Draft advisory committee after filing the paperwork last month. ESPN.com draft analyst Todd McShay has Cox in the first round of his latest his projected mock draft.
"I enjoyed wearing Maroon and white," Cox tweeted Tuesday afternoon.
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 33-yard field goal in the Bulldogs' 23-17 victory over Wake Forest in the 2011 Music City Bowl last week.
"Our goal is to develop young men to put them in a position to achieve their goals," MSU coach Dan Mullen said in the university release. "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."
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