Aug. 2, 2012
By Matt Winkeljohn
Mike Cox will not be at Georgia Tech today when the Yellow Jackets begin practicing for the 2012 season, at least not in body. The former Yellow Jacket fullback will be there in spirit, however, and not all that far away.
Cox is in training camp with the Atlanta Falcons, with whom he signed in the midst of last season. In Flowery Branch is a former Tech running back who is never asked whether his college offense impacted his transition to the NFL. Cox, who played at Tech from 2004-’07, probably got his NFL break because of the offense he played in for the Jackets.
His college coach, current Buffalo Bills head coach Chan Gailey, took on Cox as a free agent in 2008, when Gailey was offensive coordinator for the Kansas City Chiefs.
“He was an NFL coach, and he called the plays so we ran an NFL offense,” Cox said. “When I went to the Chiefs, and it was the exact same thing we ran at Georgia Tech. It’s carried over to here. It’s different terminology, but pretty much the same offense.”
When Cox signed with the Falcons last season, after former Atlanta fullback Ovie Mughelli was injured, his younger brother Lucas Cox, was on the Falcons’ practice squad. Lucas had played at Tech, too, in the offense of head coach Paul Johnson. Lucas, though, was a big help to his big brother.
“Having Luke there helped me learn the plays,” Mike said. “My nerves won’t be anywhere near what they were that first game. It’s been great having an entire offseason. It’s definitely better than coming in and having to start the first week with the bullets flying. I feel so much more comfortable. I worked out for the Falcons on a Monday, signed on a Tuesday and started [after a bye week].”
Mughelli’s gone now, and Cox is competing chiefly with rookie Brady Ewing, a fifth-round draft choice from Wisconsin (where he was a walk-on).
Lucas Cox, who played for Tech from ’08-’10, is gone as well. He’s punting, passing, running, tackling and deep snapping in Finland. Seriously.
“He’s playing football for the $%^& Spiders,” Mike said. “They fly him over there for free, give him a room, a food stipend, and he’s a starting linebacker, Wildcat quarterback, extra point and field goal long snapper, and punter. He’s throwing touchdowns, and running for touchdowns, and making tackles and sacks.”
Mike didn’t know how to spell the name of the city his brother’s working in, and he wasn’t sure he was pronouncing it correctly. He does, however, think that his brother is enjoying his opportunity. He also said it would be nice to attend a Tech game this fall if his schedule allows.
“I made it down there for a Thursday game last year,” he said. “And I’d like to try to get down there this season if I can.”
Cox isn’t the only former Yellow Jacket in camp with the Falcons. Former defensive tackle Vance Walker, who saw action last season with Atlanta, is there, and wide receiver Kevin Cone, who spent time on Atlanta’s practice squad last season, is there as well. Cone’s a long shot, again, but perhaps not by as much as some would have predicted. He’s bigger still than a year ago, and team officials appreciate his work ethic, speed, and his improved receiving techniques. Comments to firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow on Twitter @mwinkeljohn.