Mississippi State's Cox turning pro

As expected, Mississippi State defensive tackle Fletcher Cox confirmed Tuesday he was giving up his senior season to enter the NFL draft.

Cox, who led all SEC defensive tackles with 14.5 tackles for loss this season, is rated No. 20 by ESPN's Todd McShay in his latest breakdown of the top 32 NFL prospects. Cox closed out his college career by collecting two tackles for loss, including a sack, and blocking a field goal in Mississippi State's 23-17 win over Wake Forest Friday in the Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl.

Cox said in a statement: "This is a chance for me to do what I’ve always dreamed of, play in the NFL. I appreciate everything Mississippi State has done for me to help me get to this point. The coaches, fans, staff and everyone there have been amazing during my three years in Starkville.”

Underclassmen have until Jan. 15 to enter their names into the draft. South Carolina receiver Alshon Jeffery is also expected to come out early.

Others to keep an eye on are Alabama running back Trent Richardson, Alabama cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick, Alabama linebacker Dont'a Hightower, Georgia safety Bacarri Rambo, Georgia tight end Orson Charles, LSU cornerback Morris Claiborne, LSU defensive tackle Michael Brockers, LSU defensive end Sam Montgomery, LSU receiver Rueben Randle, Mississippi State cornerback Johnthan Banks and South Carolina cornerback Stephon Gilmore.