The University of Massachusetts football team went 1-11 in 2012, losing six games by more than 30 points and two others by more than 20. Those are hardly circumstances under which a running back can showcase his skills. Yet, the New York Giants still saw enough from Michael Cox to select him in the seventh round of the 2013 NFL Draft, 253rd overall.
"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," said Giants general manager Jerry Reese. "He’s a big and powerful elusive guy with speed, so he’s got a lot of things that we like about him."
Cox is a 6-foot, 222-pound back who rushed for 710 yards on 198 carries (3.6 yards per carry) with the Minutemen in 2012. He spent his first three years of collegiate eligibility at Michigan, where he carried the ball only 19 times -- none as a junior in 2011.
"That was the main reason I went to UMass to get on the field and get more opportunities to show I could play in the NFL.," Cox told the Daily Hampshire Gazette. "I feel like I have a lot more to do, but I’m happy that I got this far so far."
Cox will likely compete with Da'Rel Scott and Ryan Torain for the final spots in the Giants' backfield behind David Wilson and Andre Brown
"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 there," said Giants Director of College Scouting Marc Ross. "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."
Can Cox make the roster? Scott missed much of 2012 with a knee injury, and has yet to prove after being drafted in the seventh round in 2011 that he can do more than run fast. Torain is a four-year veteran who was picked up mid-season in 2012, but never touched the ball for the Giants. If Cox shows anything as either an inside runner or pass-catcher there has to be a chance he could pass Scott and Torain on the depth chart.