"I finished my last class in June," added a very relieved Todd Cox. "I graduated. I am now eligible to play for Ole Miss."
When will the former Parade All-American arrive in Oxford?
"I spoke with Coach Freeze on Saturday. He told me I do not have to be there until August 1st, but I am pushing to go down a little early so I can find a place to live."
Todd Cox's history is an interesting one. He graduated from Harding Academy is May '05 and signed with the Tennessee Vols after earning scholarship offers from the likes of Oklahoma, Southern California, LSU, North Carolina,Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, MSU, Miami, Florida, FSU, Louisville, and Kentucky.
But that is just where the story begins.
"When I found out I was ineligible, Tennessee wanted me to go down to Pearl River CC. I went down there that summer (of '05) and played in the first two games. But Tennessee did not want me to burn up a year of eligibility, so they told me take a redshirt, so that's what I did. It was a hard thing to do, you know, starting for the eventual national juco champions, getting in the trenches with them, and then being told I need to sit out the year. Well, it really made me kind of question my decision to go to Tennessee. I was getting home sick, just sitting around in South Mississippi and not playing ball, so I decided to transfer to a junior college closer to home. I decided to go to N' West CC. It is only 30 minutes from home. I got there in the Spring (of '06), but since I got there in the middle of the year, they had already used up all of their out of state scholarships, so I had to sit out another year and just work on my grades."
Why did Todd not just walk on at N' West CC last Fall?
"In Mississippi, if you are an out of state player, you have to either be on scholarship or you can not play."
How much eligibility does Todd have left at Ole Miss?
"I will have three years to play three, so I guess you can say there was some kind of positive through that whole mess. Not much, but some (laugh)."
What is Cox feeling now that the journey is finally over?
"It feels great. I am just ready to start playing. It was hell for the two years I was not playing. I am not going to lie. Finally, graduating and knowing I have three years to play for Ole Miss. It is like I am on top of the world knowing I am about to be playing in the SEC next season."
What has Todd been doing to keep himself in shape while he has been out of football?
"I go to my old high school and lift everyday with my cousin, Rodney Alexander (CB/5' 11", 160). He is actually walking on at Ole Miss too. We work out with Justin McClain (FS/5' 11", 200) who is going to be an invited walk on at Ole Miss. All three of us just push ourselves to be in the best shape we can possible be. I am about 6' 2", 215 right now, and I feel like I am in the best shape of my life."
Todd and Coach Orgeron have had a talk about his "invite walk on" status.
"He told me to show up this summer, work hard, and that if any of his players do not qualify out of his last class, that I am going to be the first one awarded a scholarship. That is all I can ask for, a chance."
Has Todd set himself any immediate goals during two a days?
"Well, I know they brought in three more
juco LB's (Ashlee Palmer, Lamar Brumfield, and Tony Fein), so the competition
is going to be tough. I want to make sure I am in the rotation for our opening
game against Memphis. I will need to learn the play book to see what kind of coverages
they run. Once I get all of that down, everything else will take care of itself."
What does Cox bring to the table, as a player?
"I am a speed rusher. I like to get after the QB. I am a blitzing LB. I like to come off the edge and move around a lot. That is pretty much my game, sacking the QB. I play a lot like Rory Johnson did at Ole Miss. I hope I take his old spot."
Todd had one last message for the Ole Miss fans.
"Tell them that I hope they have not forgotten about me. I am going to be a lot of fun to watch on the field next season, and I am going to do everythign in my power to get us back to some bowl games. I want to be a part of that group that got things started again at Ole Miss. That is really my only goal."