For the 2011 season Fletcher had 49 tackles, 12 tackles for loss, 4 sacks, 3 QB hurries, one forced fumble, one fumble recovery, and a blocked kick in 11 games. He was selected to the 1st team All-SEC and 3rd team All-American.
On Monday Pro Football Weekly selected Cox as a 1st team All-American. That’s big. The point of Pro Football Weekly’s list is to select the “most talented players in college football based on considerable feedback from NFL evaluators taking into consideration a player’s pure talent and contribution to his team, and placing an extra premium on draft value in the selection process”.
Cox has already said that if he is projected to be a first round pick than it’s a “no-brainer”. And you can’t blame him for that. Anyone who was offered a multi-million dollar contract after their junior year in college would take it.
If he decides to go to the NFL, he will be sorely missed. What looked like a vaunted 2012 defense will surely take a hit. But is this a good thing for MSU? Alabama, LSU, Florida, Georgia, etc. have players leaving early all the time. Then they hit the recruiting trails and replace them with another top tier athlete. Fletcher Cox leaving early could be a great recruiting tool for State. ‘Hey, Fletcher left early….we’ve got the kind of program that elite athletes want to attend’. And that makes two years in a row State would have a first round draft choice (Derek Sherrod).
Sure, it would be nice for every player to stay all four years and then move on to the NFL. But top recruits want to go where they are around the best, and if MSU can produce players who leave early it is a sign that MSU is school who produces NFL players. If you can do that you don’t have to worry about them leaving, because there will be some really talented players waiting to fill their shoes.