John Fennelly, Lead WriterThe final day of the NFL Draft was winding down and UMass RB Michael Cox was minutes away from becoming either Mr. Irrelevant or an undrafted free agent.
The Chicago Bears had used all their picks but still wanted Cox, and were angling to sign him after the draft. They were on the phone with Cox talking turkey when another team cut into the call.
“I was literally about to sign (with Chicago). I had the paperwork ready and was about to set that all up,” Cox said as per Matt Vautour of gazettenet.com. “They put me on hold for a second. That’s when New York called and it was Coughlin. He said ‘we’re going to draft you in a couple seconds here.’”
And they did. Cox ended up being the next to last pick in the draft avoiding the Mr. Irrelevant tag, the UDFA market and the honor of playing for the Bears. Instead, he’ll be joining another storied franchise as part of the Giants’ new world order backfield.
Official UMass Athletics Bio: Joined UMass during the 2012 summer as a graduate student after receiving his degree at Michigan … Played for the Wolverines from 2008-11 taking a redshirt season in 2008 …As a Grad Student in 2012: Game-By-Game Statistics….Saw action and started in all 12 games as No. 1 running back … Rushed for 715 yards on 198 carries with five touchdowns averaging 59.6 yards per game … Led the team in total points with 30 … Also made 13 catches for 63 yards … Earned UMass Athlete of the Week and CFPA’s National Running Back of the Week honorable mention with 30 carries for 188 yards and two touchdowns at Miami (9/22), also made ESPN Sport Center’s No. 5 Play of the Day with his nine-yard touchdown run … Had 18 carries at Michigan (9/15) for 81 yards.
Some impressions of Michael Cox:
The Sports Xchange: No. 1 running back for the Minutemen in his lone season following his transfer from Michigan. Has good hands and an initial good burst out of the backfield.
Gil Brandt, NFL.com at the combine: Cox ran the 40 in 4.63 and 4.58 seconds, had a 38-inch vertical and 10-7 broad jump, a 4.09-second short shuttle and 6.87-second three-cone drill. Cox performed 24 strength lifts of 225 pounds on the bench press, and looked good in the positional workout.
GM Jerry Reese after the draft: “We brought him in for one of our visits here and we really like him. I think their team is moving up a division and they were really kind of outmanned this year and you don’t see a lot of production, but if you look closely and do what us scouts do, we’re excited about him. We think he’s got a chance. He’s a big and powerful elusive guy with speed, so he’s got a lot of things that we like about him.”
Scouting director Marc Ross after the draft: “If you look at his stats at UMass, they aren’t that impressive but he gets the ball and there are two guys in the backfield, he’s trying to make everything on his own,” Ross said. “Runs hard, he’s got size, he’s got really, really good hands, excellent hands, got a little burst to him. We had him in for a visit, real good kid. Our coaches were impressed with him so we were happy we’re getting a big, fast guy who runs hard that late in the draft.”
Head coach Tom Coughlin after the second day of minicamp: “The runner (Cox) has looked good on occasion – done some good things.”
OC Kevin Gilbride at rookie minicamp: “When he knew what he was doing and he understood the play, he showed the kind of speed and the running ability you like to see.”
Michael Cox media session 5.10.13 at Giants rookie minicamp:
Q: Is the toughest thing just trying to learn the playbook quickly and then translate it onto the field?
A: Yes, because I just got the playbook last night. I was up so late last night just studying everything, but I think it’s going pretty good.
Q: How big of an adjustment is it going to be jumping up to the NFL?
A: It’s definitely going to be a big adjustment, but I think I should be able to handle it.
Q: What are friends in the NFL warning you about?
A: They tell me just how physical it is and just how big the playbook is.
Q: Did you have any clue the Giants were interested in you at all?
A: I did. I didn’t know if they were going to draft me or not. It kind of came out of nowhere a little bit. I came and visited and met a lot of coaches.
Q: Did that go well?
A: It did.
Q: There looks like some room for you at running back to make the team.
A: Definitely. I just want that chance just to get on the field.
Q: What do you think you have to show them to make the team?
A: I’ve just got to show them my skill set. I’m a big, fast running back and can play and just help the team out.
Giants.com also caught up with Cox that weekend:
What did you first think of when you found out you were drafted by the New York Giants?
RB Michael Cox: A great football team that won two Super Bowls recently.
What did you know about Tom Coughlin?
Cox: I just knew him from TV and stuff and obviously now a lot more. I just knew him from beating the Patriots. I’m from Boston.
Who were the greatest influences in your football career that got you to this point?
Cox: Playing at UMass and everyone there were great for me. I did one season there, so I thought that was a great experience.
If you could model your career after any player – current or former – who would it be, and why?
Cox: There are a lot of players I like, but I like Arian Foster. He’s a great running back I think.