Last year, MSU’s defense was impressively stingy, especially the against the run. The Bulldogs ranked 4th in the conference and 15th nationally in rush defense. However last years top two leading tacklers have moved on. Linebackers Chris White (110 total tackles) and K. J. Wright (98) will both play on Sundays this year. Emmanuel Gatling, the other starting linebacker was also a senior last season. That means that there will be three new starters at linebacker for State this season. The starters are still in flux, as the coaching staff is trying out everyone at different positions. If MSU is to maintain or improve on last years stats, these new backers will need some help from Junior defensive tackle Fletcher Cox.
Cox will not be the leading tackler on this years squad but he will be the catalyst in stopping the run. Cox checks in at 6’4″, and just under 300 pounds. When on his game he commands a double team and keeps the linebackers free to flow to the ball and make the plays in the hole. Fletcher is such a gifted athlete that in an interview with Brandon Marcello, HC Dan Mullen said that he would be comfortable putting Cox “anywhere on the field”. Mullen went on with a strait face, “He could probably play corner for us, he’s that athletic.” While the thought of a near 300 pounder playing corner sounds like a bit of a stretch, Cox has been seen lining up at tight end and fullback in goal line formations at practice.
While Coach Mullen has no problem playing Cox anywhere, I know we will definitely see him down in the trenches this season taking on double teams and disrupting the oppositions offensive schemes. Fletcher Cox is a physically gifted beast and will be the difference maker for MSU on D this year, watch for him.