Now, Cox enters the 2013 season ready to play and with a year under his belt – even if it seems like more.
"Some of the guys tell me they feel like I've been here forever because it just helps you," Cox said. "It feels like I've got a lot more experience. I'm ready to go now.
"I just know where to be on the field. Now, I don't have to think so much. I can just go and make plays."
Defensive backs coach Harlon Barnett said the biggest difference between Cox this year to now is understanding.
"Knowing what to do, number one," Barnett said. "He's running around and he can get guys on the ground as far as tackling is concerned. So, number one, knowing what to do.
"He's sure of himself and he understands the defense, so that's allowed him the ability to show itself."
Cox enters the season as the backup at free safety – as well in nickleback formations – in the deep MSU defensive backfield. He said battling it out for playing time with veterans like Kurtis Drummond and R.J. Williamson is a lot of fun.
"It just makes it a lot more competitive," he said. "Practice is a lot more fun. It seems like camp is flying by compared to last year. We just come out here and have fun."
Barnett said it's a good battle, specifically between Cox and Williamson.
"They're rotating through," he said. "They're both getting good. They both have improved and it's a battle, which is a good thing. They're doing a good job. They're taking the steps that we were looking for them to take. Put it that way."
Cox said this fall camp helped him realize he needs to be more aggressive in making plays and forcing turnovers, but said it is going well.
"I'm just trying to get better everyday so I can get on the field," he said.