Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Former Minuteman Michael Cox drafted by New York Giants

Maria Uminski/Collegian

With only two selections remaining in the 2013 NFL Draft on Saturday, the chances of a player from the Massachusetts football team being drafted looked bleak. By the late stages of the draft, most prospects still waiting on a phone call from a potential NFL employer have started assessing the options as an undrafted free agent.

But with the 47th selection of the seventh round – a compensatory pick, and 253rd overall – the New York Giants made sure that former UMass running back Michael Cox wouldn’t have to sweat out the process any longer than necessary.

“I’m just excited, you know, just to get the opportunity to play in the NFL and for a great team like the Giants,” Cox said by phone Saturday night. “So, I’m just happy.”

Cox, a Dorchester native, is the 26th Minuteman to be drafted professionally and the first since former UMass tackle Vladimir Ducasse was taken by the New York Jets in the second round of the 2010 draft.

Other former Minutemen currently in the NFL include James Ihedigbo (Baltimore Ravens), John Griffin (Jets), Travis Tripucka (Jets), Chris Koepplin (Buffalo Bills), Emil Igwenagu (Philadelphia Eagles), Jeromy Miles (Cincinnati Bengals) and Josh Samuda (Miami Dolphins).

“You don’t see a lot of production but if you look closely at this guy, we are excited about him,” Giants general manager Jerry Reese said of Cox in a post-draft press conference. “He is big, powerful, elusive guy with speed. He has got a lot of things that we like about him.”

For fans, the three-day draft event is a much-anticipated milestone in the NFL calendar that stirs up excitement and interest in new players and the future of the league. For draft-hopeful incoming players, it can often be a stressful experience, especially as the picks start to slip into later rounds.

And though Cox had to play the waiting game, the end result was worth it.

“At first, I thought I was probably going to go a little bit higher,” he said. “And then it kind of started getting to the end of the draft, and I was like, ‘Oh well, looks like I’m not gonna get drafted.’ But then they called me like, last second, and I ended up getting drafted by the Giants.”

Cox said he drew interest from a number of teams during the pre-draft evaluation period, but it was the phone call he was holding out for on Saturday evening that he will remember most.

“I talked to a couple different coaches,” Cox added, “but (Giants coach Tom) Coughlin called me up and was just like, ‘Congratulations on being a Giant and we think you have a great opportunity to make this team.’”

Should he make the Giants’ 53-man roster, Cox will join former UMass standout wide receiver Victor Cruz in New York. Cruz, who went undrafted before signing as a rookie free agent with New York in 2010, blossomed into something of a media darling after taking the league by storm with his breakout 2011 campaign in which he set a new Giants record with 1,536 receiving yards.

While Cox, who spent the 2008 through 2011 seasons at Michigan, never played with Cruz in Amherst, he is still looking forward to connecting with and learning from the trail-blazing receiver in his new NFL surroundings.

“(It’s) a good thing obviously, because I went to UMass, he went to UMass, and it’s always good just to have someone else from your school there,” Cox said. “Just coming from a small school to, you know, him being one of the best receivers in the league, that definitely shows a lot.”

While Cox is grateful for his opportunity, the reality for most seventh-round draft picks is harsh. Catching the eye of a new coaching staff and ultimately making the team is a constant uphill struggle and many draftees don’t end up sticking with the team that drafted them.

The running back situation in New York could make Cox’s path to an NFL career a little easier, however. While 2012 first-round selection David Wilson is firmly entrenched as the team’s starting tailback, the departure of longtime Giant Ahmad Bradshaw during the offseason means Coughlin and his staff will be looking for someone to step up.

And Cox likes his odds.

“I think I have a very good chance,” he said. “But I have to obviously go out there and prove myself and everything. So, I’m gonna go out there and work my hardest and do everything I can to make the team.”

Daniel Malone can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @Daniel_Malone.


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